Jackson Tujo

Taylor Swift Perfects the "Timeless" Speak Now

Music Scene Media
Jul 25, 2023
3 min read
Photo by Beth Garrabrant

“I was a flight risk with a fear of falling.” Taylor Swift describes a young, closed-off girl in “Mine.” Although sung through the art of storytelling, it is hard not to relate these stories to Taylor’s life. On July 7th, Taylor Swift released “Taylor’s Version” of the pivotal retrospective album, Speak Now. It features eight songs from Taylor’s Vault, made in her vision. With Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), the artist of our generation provides another piece of her life for us to enjoy. 

Taylor’s strong storytelling ability, even at such a young age, is the first thing to stand out on this album. She has a gift that immerses the listener in any story she wants to tell. For example: in “Mine,” she paints a descriptive picture of a young girl guarded against love with heavy-hitting lyrics such as “You learn my secrets, and you figure out why I’m guarded.” Another favorite story is told with “Speak Now.” This track tells the story of a woman breaking up the wedding of the man she loves. The inflection of her voice and melodies make the listener relate to every emotion. 

One of Taylor Swift’s greatest strengths is writing about love and its effects. “Last Kiss” is a story of the haunting nostalgia of a past lover. The track conveys the feeling of a past person never really leaving due to the memories and how the relationship changed you. “Back to December” is about wanting to return to a partner after a dumb fight—a song about a change of perspective after that person is finally gone. While “The Story of Us” is about the feelings of running into your ex. With the sudden realization that if they wanted to put down their armor and make-up, she would take them back in a second. 

Speak Now has a few love songs but also pointed songs toward past lovers and antagonists early in Taylor’s career. “Dear John” is a sad track reminiscing on her past relationship with John Mayer. It describes a toxic relationship with someone with a pattern of breaking hearts with no remorse. “Better than Revenge” is a bop of a track with pop-punk influence, reminding of Paramore’s hit, “Misery Business.” This diss track is about a woman who broke up a past relationship. The mega-hit “Mean” is about a critic who tore apart Taylor after a live performance. Although it is pointed, it is such a fun track to listen to, a testament to Taylor’s songwriting ability.

“Enchanted” perfectly captures the feeling of love at first sight. She describes with lyrics such as “I'm wonderstruck, blushing all the way home.” This track expresses her infatuation with Adam Young from Owl City—a testament to how Taylor can turn beautiful memories into relatable stories.

“Never Grow Up” is another showcase of Taylor’s songwriting ability. She perfectly describes the loss of innocence that comes with growing up. A retrospective song about how she wishes she could go back and appreciate her early memories. Painfully truthful lyrics encapsulate this emotion well:

Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room

Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home

Remember the footsteps, remember the words said

And all your little brother's favorite songs

I just realized everything I have is, someday, gonna be gone

“When Emma Falls in Love” is a beautiful song from Taylor’s Vault. Everyone deals with feelings at different points where you wish you had grown up to be somebody else. Taylor describes this with a song about “the girl-next-door” with a perfect life. This is maybe a commentary on the downfall of early fame and the young years Taylor never got to experience.

Taylor Swift features emo legends Fall Out Boy on “Electric Touch” from Taylor’s Vault. At first, this seems like an outside-of-the-box combo, but they fit well. A significant tone change from some of the other tracks from her vault, this is a pop-rock bop that is sure to translate well live. Patrick Stump and Taylor showcase incredible vocal performances on this track, a true standout on Taylor’s version of Speak Now.

Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) is full of emotion and intricate storytelling. Taylor Swift wrote a powerful album at the young age of 20, and 13 years later, she returned to the studio and perfected her vision. This is a 22-song release, and yet there is no filler. Every track provides some aspect to the album’s story—a truly incredible display of songwriting and a gift for Swifties and non-Swifties alike.

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Listen to Speak Now (Taylor's Version):

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