Everyone has preconceived ideas about Taylor Swift at this point, and I’m sure many of you are already judging me for liking her music. I don’t always like her as a person as we seem to have quite a few ideological differences but I really do genuinely love her music, especially 1989 as an album. Over the past year or so I’ve had to defend my taste more than once but it was never really that much of a hardship because I know exactly why I loved 1989 - and now thanks to the “Out Of The Woods” video clip I have a visual representation of my feelings.
It’s strange because I’ve never really been one to listen to albums from beginning to end. I have the attention span of a flee. I like short, fast, pop songs that barely make it past the 3 minute mark. But with 1989 I can, and do, listen to the whole thing because for me it works as a cohesive whole. It tells a story and that story is a fabulously romanticised contemporary fairytale about the life of 20 something girls in 2010s.
Now I’m not about to buy into this fairytale, I don’t know what Taylor Swift’s life is really like and frankly I don’t care. I reckon she’s got to be super driven and incredibly ruthless to make to where she is and I am definitely not emotionally stable enough to handle her. Also I kind of resemble a cabbage patch kid so I really wouldn’t fit in with her “squad goals”. But this isn’t about who Taylor Swift is a person, this is about the fantasy she has created and that fantasy is fabulous.
Whenever anyone asked me why I liked 1989 my answer was simple: It’s a fairytale.
Taylor Swift hides secret messages in her cover notes. It’s super contrived obviously but it’s a fun thing for fans and I like anything that makes fans feel like they are a part of the thing they love even if it’s just a marketing ploy. The secret message in hidden in the lyrics of 1989 is this:
We begin our story in New York (“Welcome To New York”). There once was a girl known by everyone and no one (“Blank Space”). Her heart belonged to someone who couldn’t stay (“Style”). They loved each other recklessly (“Out of the Woods”). They paid the price (“All You Had To Do Was Stay”). She danced to forget him (“Shake It Off”). He drove past her street each night (“I Wish You Would”). She made friends and enemies (“Bad Blood”). He only saw her in his dreams (“Wildest Dreams”). Then one day he came back (“How You Get The Girl”). Timing is a funny thing (“This Love”). And everyone was watching (“I Know Places”). She lost him but she found herself and somehow that was everything (“Clean”).
Now everyone likes to have a good old go of guessing who this story is about (she’s never been very subtle our Tay Tay). But that’s kind of missing the point. Music can be inspired by something but the real meaning is whatever people take from it and there’s a reason why this album kind of cut right to the core of me and my friends. It’s a romance, but it’s a romance where she ends up alone and she ends up okay.
Here’s the thing for me though, I never really saw 1989 as a real life story. I saw it as an actual fairytale with monsters and castles and swords. It always felt to me like there was a girl in a beautiful dress literally crawling through the mud to find herself and that’s exactly what the “Out Of The Woods” video gave me! It’s like the reached into my mind and pulled out the fantasy that’s been playing out in my mind since I first heard 1989. I probably could have done with less of the trying to look sexy with a wind machine stuff but the general idea was basically everything I wanted.
The search for love is kind of a quest for young girls. It's the only quest we're really given when we're young. It becomes thing huge thing. It's our goal. It's our adventure even when it shouldn't be. Even when life is enough of an adventure. When life is hard enough to push through without this end goal of finding Prince Charming. A fairytale about going on quest for love and realising that it's enough to find yourself is the fairytale I've been waiting for and that's what 1989 is to me.
The video for “Out Of The Woods” uses the words: “She lost him, but she found herself, and somehow that was everything.” The same phase that appeared at the end of her tour. Sure the cynic in me tells me she’s still trying to capitalise on a relationship she had with an teenage boy a few years ago. But you can just ignore that mess in favour imagining a princess that had to free herself because the it doesn’t matter how dashing that knight looks in shining armour the only person you can rely on for a rescue is yourself.