Behind the Meaning of Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’
In fair Hollywood, where we set our scene, we find a Taylor Swift in her twenties who throws caution to the wind and follows her heart. Swift has a number of songs that are on quick recall when you mention her name – “All Too Well”, “You Belong With Me” and “Shake It Off” to name a few. But, perhaps the most nostalgic and upbeat of its offerings is “Love Story,” originally released in 2008.
In the track, Swift compares her love to Romeo and Juliet, without all the suicides of course. In his version of the story, the young lovers defy the odds and end up at the end of the driveway, living happily ever after. With just the right amount of doe-eyed optimism and glitzy 2010 pop flavor, “Love Story” is a bop beyond compare.
We all know the story of Romeo and Juliet– our middle school English teachers made sure – but how does Swift’s version of the classic tale differ? Let’s go behind the meaning and origins of “Love Story” below.
Meaning behind the lyrics
As much as we would like to deny it, our parents often know best. The same was true for Swift as a teenager as her parents warned her about a “creep” from a guy she was seeing. Although she later quit that he was, in fact, a creep, a young Swift was convinced it was love and began putting her emotions to paper. The result was this tale of forbidden love inspired by Romeo and Juliet.
While nothing is confirmed, fans have speculated which famous Swift exes it is, with the ubiquitous answer being Joe Jonas. She dated middle brother Jonas for much of 2008. The Swifties quote the line Romeo, take me somewhere where we can be alone as a nod to their fame which hinders their relationship. In addition to hints of sneaking around, Swift’s dad notoriously advised against the bander, which Swift obviously ignored.
Swift once told The Morning Call, “I wrote it about a guy I was talking to. He wasn’t the popular choice, but I believed him. I thought, ‘This love is difficult, but it is real.’ And I knew I had to put that line somewhere. I think this song is really more about a love that’s impractical and not as comfortable as anything, but it’s something to fight for. I added the end [a proposal] because I want this ending. I want someone to say, ‘I love you and that’s all I really know.’ She’s the girly girl in me.
‘Cause you were Romeo, I was a scarlet letter
And my daddy said, “Stay away from Juliet”
But you were everything to me
I was begging you, “Please don’t go”, and I said
Romeo, take me somewhere where we can be alone
I’ll wait, all that’s left to do is run
You will be the prince and I will be the princess
It’s a love affair, baby, just say “yes”
Naturally, the accompanying video for “Love Story” has a Shakespearean twist about it. Beginning with Swift strolling around a college campus and closing her eyes with a love interest, she quickly begins to fantasize about castles, balls, and middle-aged dresses. It’s lush, romantic and inspiring, much like the song suggests.
As part of her ongoing efforts to recover her master recordings, Swift released a “Taylor’s version” of Without fear Last year. While obviously still the same album we know and love (albeit with a few additions), it can be fun to compare the two versions.
Much of the original Without fear is distinctly fresh, full of stories of first loves and teenage angst. For this reason, the original version of the album is cemented in a particular time and place. If you were a teenager in 2008, this album was your guide and confidant.
With the revamped version, however, Swift’s maturity shines, shifting to a point of view that almost feels like an older sister sharing her hard-earned wisdom. She is still holding our hand, but instead of going through our issues with us, she has moved on to the other side.
In terms of musicality, “Taylor’s Version” sees sharper instrumentation that pulls in new features that might have been missed the first time around – a little banjo here, some cymbal crashes there. His sense of arrangement has also matured in the 13 years between the two versions.
Photo: Taylor Swift Fearless (Taylor’s Version) Album Cover