In a world (and music industry) filled with the same cliched notions about love, Taylor Swift somehow manages to breathe new life into these tired ideas, transforming them into fresh concepts and expressing them in a way that is almost too relatable for comfort. To say that Swift is an incredibly gifted songwriter with a penchant for pinpointing every minute detail of emotion through her lyrics would be an understatement. There is no doubt that Taylor Swift song lyrics deliver truths about love, and just in time for Valentine's Day (hey, remember when she was in that movie Valentine's Day?) it's time we celebrate them.
Of all of the hats Swift may wear (Grammy Award-winning artist, country-turned-pop star, feminist, business woman, cat lady) her strongest, in my mind, is songwriter. The 26-year-old has an uncanny ability to hone in on her deepest emotions — the times when she is most vulnerable — and conceptualize them into universal truths; lyrics that will hit you right in the heart as somehow everything you've been feeling has been magically put into the most eloquent and articulate of sentences. Swift's many, many truths about love in her music are basically the songwriting equivalent to the phrase "yes, THAT" — so I'll let her lyrics do the talking.
1. Love Is Red
Of all the ways Swift has described love, the best is when she puts it most simply: "Loving him was red." Red is bold, red is fiery, red is passionate, red is unapologetic. Love is red.
2. But Oh, How It Can Be Fickle
Lyrically, I would argue that "All Too Well" is the best song that Swift has written to date. And lines like "You call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest" are what make her the incredibly gifted songwriter that she is.
3. A Single Moment Can Change Everything
Never has acute heartbreak been described as vividly as in "The Moment I Knew": "And it was like slow motion / Standing there in my party dress / And red lipstick / With no one to impress / And they're all standing around me singing 'Happy birthday to you,' / But there was one thing missing / And that was the moment I knew..." See also: Trust your instincts.
4. You Are More Than Your First Heartbreak
"Fifteen" perfectly embodies both the endless ache of your first breakup and the 20/20 hindsight and adult realization that there is so much better ahead of you. Standout lyrics include:
"In your life you'll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team..."
"When all you wanted was to be wanted / Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now / Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday / But I realized some bigger dreams of mine..."
5. Love Can Be Simultaneously Terrifying & Exhilarating
"This slope is treacherous, this path is reckless," Swift sings on the chorus of "Treacherous," a track all about the twin emotions of excitement and fear in a new relationship. "This slope is treacherous, and I, I, I like it..."
6. But Sometimes Those Bad Boys Are Bad For A Reason
"I knew you were trouble when you walked in / So shame on me now," T. Swift belts on the chorus of "I Knew You Were Trouble. "Flew me to places I've never been / Now Im lying on the cold, hard ground."
7. Love Is Not Just People
Sometimes you can fall in love with places, too. Case in point: Swift's love affair with Manhattan.
"Walking through a crowd, the village is aglow / Kaleidoscope of loud, heartbeats under coats," she opens the first track on 1989. "Everybody here wanted something more / Searching for a sound we hadn't heard before / And it said 'Welcome to New York / It's been waiting for you...'"
8. And It's Not Just Romantic
Both "The Best Day" and "Never Grow Up" are about familial love, particularly Swift's adoration and appreciation for her mom, dad, and brother:
"I have an excellent father / His strength is making me stronger / God smiles on my little brother / Inside and out / He's better than I am..." —"The Best Day"
"Oh, darling, don't you ever grow up, don't you ever grow up / Just stay this little / Oh, darling, don't you ever grow up, don't you ever grow up / It can still be simple..." —"Never Grow Up"
9. And #SquadLove Is The Best Love
Swift wrote "22" for her best friends, who are there during those silly, fun times ("It feels like a perfect night / To dress up like hipsters / And make fun of our exes..."), but also the more difficult moments in life as well, like this all-too-true line from "The Moment I Knew": "But your close friends always seem to know / When there's something really wrong..."
10. Sometimes Things Fall Into Place Right When You Need Them To
"This love is good, this love is bad / This love is alive back from the dead," Swift sings on 1989's "This Love." "These hands had to let it go free / And this love came back to me."
11. Regret Can Feel Like It's Eating You Alive
Speak Now's "Back to December" is filled with regret over ending a relationship — an emotion so intense it feels palpable.
"It turns out freedom ain't nothing but missing you / Wishing I'd realized what I had when you were mine," she sings mournfully. "I'd go back to December, turn around and change my own mind / I go back to December all the time..."
12. But Breakups Can Heal You
"Rain came pouring down / When I was drowning, that's when I could finally breathe," Swift sings on "Clean," the conclusion of 1989. "And by morning gone was any trace of you / I think I am finally clean..."
13. And When It Doubt, Shake It Off
Forget "I love you" — "Shake it off" are those three little words that everyone is actually dying to hear.
14. Because Love Will Find You Again
"I've been spending the last eight months / Thinking all love ever does is break, and burn, and end," Swift captures on Red's final track, "Begin Again," a song full of hope and new possibilities. "But on a Wednesday, in a cafe, I watched it begin again..."
Bless you, Taylor Swift, for singing us the gospel truth about love — one perfectly crafted lyric at a time.