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I was nine when Taylor Swift’s debut album was released. I consider myself someone who has always been a Swiftie, although at that age (in the mid-2000s especially), kids don’t really know about fandoms and online communities. I just knew there was a sweet girl with gorgeous, almond-shaped eyes lying on the ground singing a song called “Tim McGraw” at the top of the country music video countdowns every single week. I was as hooked as a nine-year-old could be.
Taylor’s music has been a huge part of my life ever since those early days. However, some songs mean more to a person later in life than they do when they’re initially heard. A young child can’t relate to lyrics like “I was riding shotgun with my hair undone in the front seat of his car” the way a 16-year-old with a boyfriend can. With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of eight songs by Miss Swift that, if I could visit my younger self, I would tell her to listen to carefully and take to heart. I’ve also listed the most important lyric, in my opinion, that my former self would be wise to pay extra attention to.
1. 'A Place in This World'
This track from Taylor’s self-titled debut album is for the dreamers. Written when Taylor was just beginning her journey into the music world, she obviously had hopes, ambitions, and fears. The song starts out with Taylor saying she’s still trying to make sense of where she’s going and what she wants to do. She realizes that although nothing is certain, she has to get out there and see what she can do. She might fall down and make mistakes, but she’s going to be herself and do her best. Someday we’ll all find our place in this world.
Most important lyric: “I’m alone, on my own, and that’s all I know / I’ll be strong, I’ll be wrong, oh but life goes on.”
This Fearless track is famous for being an honest, beautiful retelling of the freshman year experiences of Taylor and her best friend Abigail, written from Taylor’s point of view a few years down the road. “Fifteen” discusses the hopes and fantasies Taylor had at 15, the feeling of going on a first date, and the lessons she learned from her experiences. It acknowledges the excitement of high school crushes, the struggle of fitting in, and the heartbreak of making the wrong decisions. You can’t see at age 15 what you’ll wish you had a few years later.
Most important lyrics: “Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday / but I realized some bigger dreams of mine” and “I didn’t know who I was supposed to be at 15.”
An obvious choice from Taylor’s third album, Speak Now, “Mean” addresses bullying in an honest and witty manner. Taylor not only describes how it feels to be on the receiving end of bullying, but also what the bully must have been through in life to make them act this way toward others. The chorus is an upbeat anthem in which Taylor sings that one day things will be different for her. She’ll be on top of the world while the bully will still be exactly as they are today—mean.
Most important lyrics: “I’ll bet you got pushed around, somebody made you cold / but the cycle ends right now ‘cause you can’t lead me down that road.”
4. 'Tied Together with a Smile'
Written about a high school friend of Taylor’s, this debut album track tackles the subject of self-image and dealing with secret struggles. Taylor’s friend suffered from an eating disorder, despite being known as the pretty girl in school. As far as everyone else was concerned, this girl was “the golden one.” As Taylor sings, everyone could see this girl’s beauty but her. This song is so important for young girls especially to hear and take to heart. Whether you’re a beauty queen or not, every girl is beautiful and valuable. But even the most beautiful people can struggle with self-image and eating disorders. This song is a plea to anyone struggling to hold on. People tend to hide their struggles without realizing that everyone else has struggles too. “Tied Together with a Smile” is a song that, in my opinion, every young girl needs to hear.
Most important lyric: “Seem the only one who doesn’t see your beauty / is the face in the mirror looking back at you / You walk around here thinking you’re not pretty / but that’s not true, ‘cause I know you.”
5. 'The Outside'
Another debut album track, “The Outside” is a song for anyone who doesn’t quite fit in. This song will resonate with anyone who’s different from the crowd or who just can’t get in with the cool kids. Sometimes being alone in a crowd feels like standing on the outside of something, looking in on it and being so close to it, but not quite being a part of it. “The Outside” captures this feeling perfectly.
Most important lyric: “You saw me there, but never knew / that I would give it all up to be / a part of this, a part of you.”
6. 'Never Grow Up'
This Speak Now track is an emotional journey. Besides just being a tear-jerker, “Never Grow Up” emotionally describes coming of age and moving through each phase of life. From childhood to the teenage years to moving into her first apartment, Taylor tells the listener—and herself—to hold onto the simple things in each stage of growing up. She changes one of the final choruses from “just try to never grow up” to “I wish I’d never grown up.” This song is a reminder to cherish the moment. Someday you’ll be wishing you still had it.
Most important lyric: “I just realized everything I have is someday gonna be gone.”
7. 'The Best Day'
“The Best Day” was written by Taylor as a letter showing her love and appreciation for her mother, Andrea Swift. Taylor and Andrea have always had an obviously tight bond, and this song proves it. This heartfelt letter released on Fearless starts from the perspective of Taylor at age five, asking questions about why leaves change colors and where fairytale characters live. The second verse is from the perspective of a fifteen-year-old Taylor whose school friends are mean to her that day. She comes home to her mom, who takes her out window shopping. Taylor’s mom is able to take Taylor’s hurt away for the evening and let her know someone is on her side. Andrea Swift continued to support Taylor through her journey to stardom, “staying back and watching [her] shine.” For those of us who are blessed to have close relationships with our mothers, this song can bring us to tears. Even if the story Taylor tells isn’t identical to yours, “The Best Day” is a reminder of what a great mother does for her child through the challenging stages of life, and a picture how much her child loves her in return.
Most important lyric: “I don’t know who I’m gonna talk to now at school / but I know I’m laughing on the car ride home with you.”
This Fearless track is the underdog anthem of 2008. “Change” is extremely relatable. Sometimes life isn’t fair, or people get the things we’ve worked so hard for. But someday everything is going to change. All the hard work will one day pay off, and you’ll stand triumphantly looking back on everything you’ve fought to accomplish. You’ll sing hallelujah.
Most important lyric: “They might be bigger, but we’re faster and never scared.”