Our list looks at the Real Meanings Behind Each Song On Taylor Swift’s Red Album. As most music fans know, Taylor Swift’s Red album was a huge hit for the artist. Her albums are like peeking into her personal diary. It could be fun to hear her songs and wonder who she’s describing when she sings her songs. She writes about her personal relationships. She has dated some familiar faces from the entertainment industry so she could have written about the relationships in her songs. Do you know the real meaning behind the songs on her Red album?
Taylor Swift had released three successful albums before she recorded Red. She released the big hit album in 2012. Her formula is to write about her personal experiences. She had a lot to say when this album was released. This album arguably became her signature album. The album was number one on the Billboard 200 charts for seven weeks. This album helped make her the first female artist to have three consecutive albums reach number one on the charts. Red sold over seven million copies. This album includes the singles “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “Begin Again,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “22,” “Red,” “Everything Has Changed” and “The Last Time.” Four out of the seven singles made it to the top 10 on Billboard Hot 100 charts.
If you were wondering what the songs on the Red album mean, we are here to help you. We will give you the real meaning behind the songs on the Red album. Some of the meanings may surprise you.
# 1 – State of Grace
The first song on our Real Meaning Behind The Songs On Taylor Swift’s Red Album list is “State of Grace.” The song has a rock beat. It has a different title, but we’re here to explain this song’s meaning. This song is about falling in love. She dated actor Jake Gyllenhaal for several months before their relationship ended. She wrote the track about how it feels to fall in love with someone for the first time.
There was talk that this song was about the actor, but she didn’t admit to it. Taylor Swift wanted to give her listeners an idea of what it was like for her to fall in love. She wanted to talk about the ways love could go. As we all know, love can be a good thing or a bad thing. The singer invites us in on her emotions on how she felt when she fell in love. Swifties (Taylor Swift fans) got to hear her record a song with crossover appeal.
# 2 – Red
The next song on our list of Real Meaning Behind The Songs On Taylor Swift’s Red Album list is “Red.” This song is about breaking up. She wrote this to explain the myriad of feelings she was dealing with during a relationship she was involved with in the past. She used the color red to express her emotions at the time. Taylor Swift used the color red to describe her love for him. She used blue to describe losing her man.
She used dark gray to describe how she felt when she missed him. The hitmaker described her relationship in the verses. She compared her relationship to ironic situations. She mentions driving down a dead-end street and making a decision after she had already fallen. She wanted to talk about everything that happened during the relationship. She wanted her listeners to know what she was going through during a tumultuous relationship.
# 3 – Treacherous
“Treacherous” has to be one of Taylor Swift’s most intimate songs. The track is about holding on to a rocky relationship. The song is about someone she knew. When she met the man, she knew she would be in a fiery relationship with him. She was drawn to him even if it wasn’t the greatest relationship. She described the intimacy they experienced during their “treacherous” relationship. She may have shocked her fans with how descriptive she was with the intimacy, but she wanted to express how she felt while she was with him.
She doesn’t come out and admit who this song is about, but she does explain how explosive the relationship is. She had dated a few celebrities so the song could be a nod to any of them. She mentions singer John Mayer’s lyrics from his songs on this track, which could mean he might be the subject. This track is a tie-in to “I Knew You Were Trouble.”
# 4 – I Knew You Were Trouble
“I Knew You Were Trouble” has a dance, pop and rock beat. Taylor Swift wrote this song because she blamed herself for being with the wrong man. She knew when she met him that he would be trouble, but she went out with him anyway. She ignored the signs that he wasn’t worthy of dating. Taylor Swift co-wrote this song with songwriters Max Martin and Shellback. She wanted to write with Max Martin because he knew how to make a chorus come alive. She originally wanted to write this song as a ballad, but she decided to create a dance song.
“I Knew You Were Trouble” is a departure from her other songs. Swifties were used to hearing her country pop music, so this song is a change of pace for the singer. This song wasn’t like anything else she performed before. The bitterness is still present, but the song’s style (no pun intended) is different. There were rumors that the song was about John Mayer or Harry Styles. Both relationships ended badly, so the song could be about either.
She performed the song live at an awards show, and the cameramen put the camera on singer Harry Styles. She also mentioned how the man she wrote it about was standing on stage while she performed the track. She doesn’t say his name, but it might be a safe bet that she sang the song about him. Regardless of who the song is about, the fans loved it.
# 5 – All Too Well
The next song on our list of Real Meaning Behind The Songs On Taylor Swift’s Red Album list is “All Too Well.” The track has a country and pop beat. The track is about the beginning and the end of a relationship. She talks about how good it felt when she first fell in love and her pain when it was over. She was going through a terrible time when she wrote the song. The song wasn’t meant to be a single. She devised it on the spot, and the song clicked for her. This song could be a hint to her relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal. She mentions the age difference between her and her lover.
She talks about how her lover mentioned the age difference between them; they would have worked out if they were closer. Jake Gyllenhaal is nine years older than Taylor Swift. Here is some trivia about this song. This was the first song written for the album, even though it wasn’t meant to be a single. This track gave her “Swifties” a chance to hear some of her music on this track. She thought the song was too emotional, but the Switfites loved it.
# 6 – 22
This track is about her being 22 and having fun. This song is about learning new things and planning your new life. She talks about being young and carefree. Taylor Swift wanted to talk about being with the girls. She dedicated this song to her close friends. This is a song that allows the singer to be happy. She’s talking about a relationship, but it’s not romantic. This song is about her relationships with her girlfriends.
It’s a girl’s anthem about having fun with your friends. She didn’t always have to write about bad relationships. She gets to pay tribute to a good relationship where she’s happy. The song is dedicated to her friends Ashley Avignone, Dianna Agron, Claire Callaway, and Selena Gomez. If you listen to the music, she sounds happy on it. She proved she could write about a happy relationship instead of a heartbreaking one. This track picks up where her track “15” left off. “15” talks about being vulnerable at that age, while “22” talks about the vulnerability of being 22.
# 7 –I Almost Do
The song has a country and rock sound. “I Almost Do” is about her having second thoughts about reaching out to former love. She looks at the phone and thinks about calling him. She doesn’t want to take the chance of getting hurt again. The track is about contemplating reuniting with an ex and working things out. She thinks hard but is unsure; she wants to take the risk and go for it. She knows there’s a possibility that she’s going to get hurt. Taylor Swift wants the guy to know he’s still on her mind, but she’s afraid to tell him how she feels. Keeping your distance from the person you want can be challenging, but that may be for the best. Talking to the person can make a wound feel even worse, so the best thing for her is to walk away from him.
# 8 – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” is about a couple who break up and makeup. The song is about a passionate relationship sparked by anger, jealousy, frustration, and seduction. This is the first single from the Red album. This is the track that gave fans a taste of her new sound. She helped write this kiss-off anthem with Max Martin and Shellback. Taylor Swift’s goal was to get back at an ex who made her feel she wasn’t good enough or on the same level as the bands he listened to on the radio.
She wanted to write a song that would upset him when he heard it on the radio. She wanted it to get a lot of airplay so he could hear it. She wanted the music to be different from what he thought was better than hers. She didn’t want to dip her hand too much concerning revealing her ex’s identity. She tried to write enough to give some clues but didn’t want to give everything about the song away. The song appealed to her fans and made them wonder who she was talking about. The song reached number one on the charts.
# 9 –Stay Stay Stay
“Stay Stay Stay” has a folk and pop sound. The song is about a couple who try to get back together after a fight. She throws things at him before he decides to walk out the door. He stops himself and decides not to walk out of the door for good. Something inside of him is making him stay in the relationship. He does things that she likes in the relationship. He does romantic things for her, making her want to wait too.
This song is about staying in a relationship, but she does dig in on her former boyfriends. She lets her current boyfriend know that she dated selfish people. The songwriter informs her boyfriend that the guys she was with in the past took their problems out on her. She doesn’t want her current relationship to be like her past ones. She is thankful that he’s not like the other boyfriends.
# 10 – The Last Time ft. Gary Lightbody
The next song on our list of Real Meaning Behind The Songs On Taylor Swift’s Red Album list is “The Last Time.” The song has an alternative rock and folk beat. The song is about a toxic relationship. They keep breaking up and getting back together. He promises it will be the last time he leaves her. She wants him to promise her that this will be the last time he will break her heart. She debates whether she will give him another chance when he wants to get back together.
She’s hesitant because she thinks he’s going to hurt her. Loving someone you know will break your heart is an uphill battle. This song is told from two points of view. They explain how the relationship affects both of them. Rumors said the song was about her relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal. The song is similar to her hit “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
Taylor Swift wanted to go in a different direction with this album, so she wanted to work with Gary Lightbody. She enjoyed his work with Snow Patrol. They met each other through singer Ed Sheeran. The song has a darker production than the other songs on the album. Gary Lightbody opens the song, by talking about the emotions he’s dealing with because of the relationship. Taylor Swift talks about how she feels about him during the relationship. She talks about the fragile and emotional way she feels about him.
# 11 – Holy Ground
Taylor Swift wrote “Holy Ground” because of a past relationship. She has had an epiphany about the relationship. She realized the relationship taught her something. She wanted to reflect on how the relationship was and not the bitter aspect of it. When she saw her ex again, she tried to think of the good things instead of the bad things about the relationship. They had a bitter breakup and managed to make up. She sent him and his wife a gift for their child. She chose not to focus on anger.
She wants to be in a happier place. This song changed from the rest of the album because she didn’t want to be in a bitter place. It’s not a song about bitterness, but that didn’t stop the Swifties from questioning who she was talking about on the track. She had a relationship with singer Joe Jonas, and it ended bitterly. They made amends with each other, so naturally, people thought the song was about her relationship with him.
# 12 – Sad Beautiful Tragic
“Sad Beautiful Tragic” is a song about loss. The track is about one of her relationships. Taylor Swift wrote this song while she was on her tour bus. She gave her relationship some deep thought and decided to write about it. She wasn’t sad or upset about the relationship ending. She felt loss and grief because they broke up. Taylor Swift wrote this song as if it were a story. She talked about the way it felt when the relationship ended. Taylor Swift explained how she missed him.
It allows her to reflect on something she couldn’t change or get back. The songstress wanted to talk about relationships, not just from the bitter angle. She explored the feelings of loss. Many singers talk about how bitter they are when their relationships end, but they don’t express how much it hurts them. She just wanted to explain what went wrong in her relationship. There were rumors this song was about her relationship with actor Taylor Lautner.
# 13 – The Lucky One
The singer/actress took a different turn for this track. She talked about stardom. The song is about a celebrity who decided to take a break from stardom. She wanted to tackle the subject of stardom. She discusses how hard it can be to get used and abused in the music industry. The song is similar to Britney Spears’ track “Lucky.” The song has an ironic title because you would think it was about someone who should feel lucky to experience stardom. She talks about what happens once you get there. She discusses how people can easily take their place in the entertainment business.
She lets the listeners know that there’s a price to pay to see your name in lights. Taylor Swift didn’t write the song from her point of view. She wrote it about the singers who came before her. This track was one of the few that had a third-person point of view. Most of her tracks are about her own experiences, but she wrote this from another person’s perspective.
# 14 – Everything Has Changed ft. Ed Sheeran
“Everything Has Changed” is a song about a pair who wants to get to know each other. They wanted to talk about the feeling you get inside when you fall in love for the first time. There aren’t too many songs about meeting someone for the first time. Singers usually talk about how they feel after they’ve known each other. Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran decided to talk about love at first sight. Taylor Swift has become known for writing about what goes wrong in a relationship, but she proved she could write about the positive side of love. They wanted to give listeners a chance to think about what it felt like to fall in love for the first time.
Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran wanted to write about people who change the way they think. Once they fall in love, they no longer think about themselves. They think about the other people in their lives. The singers had a great time writing this love song. They wrote it while they were sitting on a trampoline. They had a great time writing this track. Taylor Swift wanted to work with Ed Sheeran because she loved the sincere way he approached songwriting. This song is rumored to be about Conor Kennedy. She hasn’t confirmed this, but people believe it because she talks about his green eyes and freckles. Conor Kennedy has green eyes and freckles.
# 15 – Starlight
“Starlight” is an ode to Ethel and Robert F Kennedy. Taylor Swift saw them in a picture together, and the idea came to her to write about their relationship. She likes to write about the 1960s so that she will look at photos from that era for inspiration. She found a picture of Robert and Ethan Kennedy dancing. The picture was taken in the 1940s. She thought they looked like they were having fun in the picture. She looked at the picture and realized it was the Kennedys. She wrote the song from that era even though she knew nothing about how they met or what happened between them. She wrote it from her perspective. She imagined what it would be like to be the Kennedys. She showed her creativity by writing about something based on looking at a picture.
Taylor Swift was dating Conor Kennedy when she recorded the Red album, so it made sense that she wrote a song about the Kennedys’ relationship. She wrote another track that didn’t have bitterness in it. She didn’t choose to talk about her relationship. Ethel Kennedy’s daughter Rory went to one of Taylor Swift’s shows and got to meet her. Rory Kennedy introduced Taylor Swift to Ethel Kennedy, and that’s how she was able to write her song about her relationship. She would close out the album with a song that could be about Conor Kennedy.
# 16 – Begin Again
The last song on our Real Meaning Behind The Songs On Taylor Swift’s Red Album list is “Begin Again.” The track is about falling in love again after dealing with bad relationships in the past. She talks about picking up the pieces of your broken heart and moving on to someone else. She plays the comparison game with her current and former flames. She talks about what is different in her new relationship from her old ones. She wants to show her vulnerable side to her new love interest.
The Red album tells the story of relationships as a whole. It tells about the good and the bad things about relationships. The album begins with falling in love for the first time and ends with starting over. She’s optimistic that the relationship will last longer than her other ones did. She has hope for love after everything she’s been through with her past relationships. Swifties believe this song is a dedication to Conor Kennedy since she was dating him when she recorded the album.
Feature Photo: Debby Wong / Shutterstock
Professional Sources, research, experience, and citations
Charting and career information used in the analysis and research of the commercial success of these albums comes from the following sources
Further analysis and original thoughts are provided by the writer Michele Johnson’s experience as a professional journalist and music collector.