Revisiting Taylor Swift’s “Out Of The Woods”

The 1989 track has connections to two other Swift songs, all of which are rumored to be about Harry Styles.

The Story Of Taylor Swift's "Out Of The Woods" Includes Harry Styles & Hospitals
Taylor Swift / YouTube

Taylor Swift is running “Out of the Woods” again. The release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is letting Swifties listen to the 2014 album like it’s the first time again and re-analyze fan favorites like “Out of the Woods,” which has one of Swift’s most intense and vivid bridges to date. And yes, the story behind it is just as scary as the lyrics sound.

Before 1989’s original release, Swift said “Out of the Woods” was “the greatest example of the sound of this album,” marking her transition from country music to full-blown pop. It proved to have a lasting impact, being referenced in two of Swift’s future songs.

In the Jack Antonoff-produced song, Swift reflects on a romance gone awry, recalling sweet moments like “moving furniture so we could dance” before going into a repetitive, rapid-paced chorus to signify her feelings of panic and anxiety.

It didn’t take long for fans to connect the dots back to Harry Styles, whom Swift reportedly dated for a few months at the end of 2012, as the lyrics contain some distinct clues pointing to their romance.

The Paper Airplane Necklaces

In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Swift said that “Out of the Woods” was about a relationship where “every day was a struggle.”

In typical Swift fashion, she wouldn’t name the ex, but she did affirm that Styles was the last person she had dated, remarking that the two were now “friends,” all but confirming that a few songs on 1989 were about him.

Taylor Swift and Harry Styles in 2012.David Krieger/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

One of the first signs that the two were an item was when Swift was spotted wearing Styles’ famous airplane necklace. In the second verse, she sings about “your necklace hanging from my neck” and “two paper airplanes flying,” an indicator that Styles could be the song’s subject.

The Alleged Snowmobile Accident

Swift gets into specifics in the song’s bridge, detailing an accident that landed both of them in the emergency room. “Remember when you hit the brakes too soon? 20 stitches in a hospital room,” she sings. “When you started crying, baby, I did too, but when the sun came up, I was looking at you.”

Rolling Stone reported that Swift said the bridge was “inspired by a snowmobile ride with an ex, who lost control and wrecked it so badly that she saw her life flash before her eyes.”

That experience seemingly became a metaphor for the entire song, with the snowy and freezing woods representing their fraught relationship. “Forget making plans for life – we were just trying to make it to next week,” she said at the time.

Taylor Swift in the “Out of the Woods” music video, released in 2014. Taylor Swift / YouTube

The ex she was with was never confirmed, but fans speculate Styles was who she refers to in the alleged snowmobile accident.

Both Swift and an unnamed ex had to go to the emergency room, though Swift clarified that she was “not as hurt.” However, she was surprised that the ER visit was kept private for so long.

“You know what I’ve found works even better than an NDA?” she said at the time. “Looking someone in the eye and saying, ‘Please don’t tell anyone about this.’”

The “Is It Over Now?” Connection

As fans found out when Swift released 1989 (TV), “Out of the Woods” shares some DNA with one of the album’s “From the Vault” tracks, “Is It Over Now?” which made fans believe the new song was also about her relationship with Styles.

Taylor Swift performs on the 58th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California on February 15, 2016.ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Swift seemingly nods to the same snowmobile accident in the second verse, singing, “When you lost control / Red blood, white snow.” In the next line, she references that viral 2013 photo of her on a boat, which was reportedly taken after splitting from Styles on vacation.

The “Question...?” Connection

There’s an even stronger connection on “Question...?” from Swift’s 2022 album Midnights, which literally samples “Out of the Woods.” At the very beginning of the track, Swift re-uses the line “I remember...” from the 1989 song’s chorus.

Naturally, this line made fans think Swift wrote “Question...?” while reflecting on her relationship with Styles, potentially after they spoke again at the 2021 Grammys.

Harry Styles and Taylor Swift speak during the 65th GRAMMY Awards on February 5, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

No matter what inspired “Out of the Woods,” it’s clearly had a lasting impact on Swift’s music.