Taylor Swift’s album ‘Lover’ has plenty of callbacks to lyrics on ‘Red,’ ‘Reputation,’ and more. We’re dissecting them here.
Taylor Swift‘s new album, Lover, dropped on Aug. 23, and it’s all about everything she finds romantic. An unexpected thing that can be incredibly romantic is nostalgia, and this album is littered with it. From the 1970s vibes of title track “Lover” to the way “Paper Rings” was written “with the idea of throwback sounds,” according to Taylor’s explanation on Spotify, this isn’t just a modern album – it’s a timeless one. Any Swiftie knows there’s nothing more timeless than the gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, clever lyrics Taylor’s songs are marked by, and some of the songs on this album call back to her best ones. Below, we dissect all the ways six songs off Lover connect to her first six albums.
“I Forgot That You Existed”
Intro track “I Forgot That You Existed” starts off the album by moving on from Taylor’s reputation era. Where she used to be angry, she’s now indifferent. Back in 2016 though, she got in a feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. We won’t go into that, but we will go back to her reputation track, “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” that references the drama. In that track, Taylor lets out a forced laugh followed by, “I can’t even say it with a straight face.” In “I Forgot That You Existed,” that laugh appears again at the 2:00 mark. This time around though, it sounds more sincere.
The title track was released ahead of the album, so fans already picked up on how the lyric “Take me out and take me home,” mimics the “take me home” line on fellow track three, “Style,” from 1989. But hours before the album dropped, Taylor released the music video for the track, which she said was inspired by the line, “You two are dancing in a snow globe, go round and round,” from 1989 bonus track “You Are In Love.”
There are a few references to her earlier work on “Paper Rings.” The first verse ends with, “Now I wake up in the night and watch you breathe.” Back on 2010’s Speak Now, Taylor sang the haunting lyrics, “So I’ll watch your life in pictures like I used to watch you sleep / And I feel you forget me like I used to feel you breathe.” These lines appear on “Last Kiss,” so referencing them again on a song about wanting to marry someone could mean she finally found the person who she will never have a last kiss with.
The pre-chorus toys with the idea of being kissed three times to tell someone you love them, which alludes back to reputation closer “New Year’s Day,” when Taylor croons, “You squeeze my hand three times in the back of the taxi.”
The chorus lyric, “Paper rings and picture frames and dirty dreams,” calls back to 2014’s “How You Get The Girl,” when Taylor says, “Remind her how it used to be / Pictures in frames of kisses on cheeks.”
There are two lines in the bridge that are parallels to previous work. The first – “I want to drive away with you” – refers to her commonly used driving metaphor for moving on, which can be heard on songs like “Breathe,” “Our Song,” “Style,” and “Out of the Woods.” The second lyric is “I want your dreary Mondays,” which harks back to “I want your midnights but I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day,” (in “New Year’s Day,” obviously.)
Like “Paper Rings,” this song about Taylor’s relationship with Joe Alwyn, has plenty of parallels with her previous work. The opening line, “We were in the backseat / Drunk on something stronger than the drinks in the bar,” brings us back to that same “New Year’s Day” lyric about being in the backseat of a taxi.
The lyric “Memorize the creaks in the floor,” could be referring to “Delicate” line, “Echoes of your footsteps on the stairs.”
“Sat on the roof, you and I,” in the pre-chorus alludes to reputation‘s “King of My Heart,” where Taylor sings, “up on the roof ‘with a schoolgirl crush, drinking beer out of plastic cups.”
In the bridge, Taylor sings, “Years ago, we were just inside / Barefoot in the kitchen,” bringing back images on “All Too Well” about dancing in refrigerator light. “Sacred new beginnings,” in the bridge could be a reference to Red closer “Begin Again,” while the following line, “That became my religion, listen,” references the “love as religion” trope that Taylor introduced on “Don’t Blame Me.” (We see that idea again on “False God,” as well.)
“It’s Nice To Have A Friend”
Lover‘s penultimate track has a couple throwbacks in the second verse. “Light pink sky up on the roof,” references “King of My Heart” in the same way that “Cornelia Street does,” while “Something gave you the nerve to touch my hand,” throws us back to “Gorgeous” lyrics, ““And you should think about the consequence / Of you touching my hand in a darkened room.” This song also follows a narrative of childhood friends growing up and getting married, just like the premise of “Mary’s Song (Oh My My My) on her 2006 debut album, Taylor Swift.
The bridge in Daylight is an important one. The third line, “I once believed love would be (black and white) brings us back to “Out of the Woods” when Taylor sang, “The rest of the world was black and white but we were in screaming color.” She then sings, “And I can still see it all (in my head,” possibly referencing her fan favorite track, “All Too Well.”
She then switches the line to, “I once believed love would be (Burning red) But it’s golden Like daylight, like daylight.” In the liner notes for her Red album, Taylor explained the vibe of the album, writing: “And there’s something to be proud of about moving on and realizing that real love shines golden like starlight, and doesn’t fade or spontaneously combust. Maybe I’ll write a whole album about that kind of love if I ever find it. but this album is about the other kinds of love that I’ve recently fallen in and out of. Love that was treacherous, sad, beautiful, and tragic. But most of all, this record is about love that was red.”