1989 (Taylor’s Version) blessed us with five of the best “from the vault” tracks yet.
1989 is special to Taylor Swift and Swifties for many reasons. Although she dipped her toes into the pop music world with tracks like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” on her legendary Red album, 1989 was a high dive into the pop deep end of synthy sounds and upbeat melodies about heartbreak.
It was her first album that was full of pop music, and it was also a transition to a different kind of acclaim for the singer. She was practically instantly catapulted into pop stardom with her ultra-famous girl squad and abundant appearances, gaining her a whole new level of both admiration and scorn. The 1989 era was jam packed with iconic looks and Instagram posts that fans would be imitating for years to come.
1989 also stands as one of Taylor Swift’s most wonderfully cohesive works, even tying in the secret album liner messages (which for the first time, all told one story), and the extensive music video series that encompassed a whopping seven singles from the album. The album set the stage with “Welcome to New York,” and brought you all the way through the heights and depths of a New York story of love, loss, holding grudges and “shaking it off,” down to the final healing notes of “Clean.” That is, before three equally epic bonus tracks were included!
Also notable is the fact that 1989 spawned a prolific and beautiful working relationship between Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff that would carry through all of her subsequent albums, including the entirety of Midnights. As we’ve come to expect from an album with the moniker “Taylor’s Version,” several never-before-heard “from the vault” tracks were included on the re-release of 1989, all of which were produced by the power duo of Swift and Antonoff.
Dare I say it, the 1989 (Taylor’s Version) vault tracks are my absolute favorite vault tracks yet, but I guess that’s to be expected since 1989 has always been my favorite of her albums. As she said herself, it seems unbelievable that these instantly iconic songs were left behind 9 years ago, but with the full album being as stacked as it is, I’m sure she had her reasons. That being said, knowing these songs have just been sitting in a vault for nine years when we could have been screaming them at the top of our lungs is unbelievable.
One of my favorite things about listening to the vault tracks is taking in how they make me feel now, and also thinking back to my life when the original album was released and what they would have meant to me then. Of all the 1989 (Taylor’s Version) “from the vault” lyrics, these are the ones that resonate the most with my current and former selves, and the ones I can’t believe have been locked away all this time!
The 8 best Taylor Swift lyrics from the ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ vault
‘Why’d you whisper in the dark just to leave me in the night, now your silence has me screaming’ – Taylor Swift
This, like many of these lyrics, is from the absolutely hauntingly beautiful “Say Don’t Go,” which I won’t even pretend isn’t my favorite of the vault tracks. The simple but poignant lyrics, the building beats of the production, and the breathy desperation in her voice all make this song cut straight to the heart as I listen again and again.
Lyrics like this are one of the reasons I think “Say Don’t Go” may have actually been slotted for the album’s legendary Taylor Swift Track 5. It has that perfect mix of crushing despair and biting anger that they’re so famous and beloved for. I love the juxtaposition of an intimate whisper in the dark with the frantic fleeing in the night layered with that of silence and screaming. It’s such a great start to a chorus that just keeps delivering.
1989’s fifth track is “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” which is very similar in theme to “Say Don’t Go,” just from a different perspective. It’s also never really made sense to me as a Track 5, but I know that’s a controversial opinion. To me, it just doesn’t have the same gut-punching feeling as the rest of them. “Say Don’t Go” has that. My armchair theory is that “Say Don’t Go” was left behind because its melody is very similar to “Clean,” which was extremely important to the 1989 story. Therefore, “Say Don’t Go’s” sister got the spot!
‘You kiss me and it stops time, and I’m yours but you’re not mine’ – Taylor Swift
Another entry from “Say Don’t Go,” and another Track 5 moment akin to the “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” lyrics, “you kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath.” Just another heartbreaking line from the gorgeous “Say Don’t Go!”
‘I think about jumping off of very tall somethings just to see you come running’ – Taylor Swift
Is there a more tragically relatable lyric than this? This repeated line from “Is It Over Now?” is a simpler and more direct expression of a feeling she’s revealed before, but the matter-of-factness of this line is what makes it shine so bright and cut so deep.
What makes this lyric even better and more relatable is the audible eye-roll in the “but no” that follows it, because inevitably those fantasies are always dashed by reality.
Just like “Say Don’t Go” feels like another side of “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” “Is It Over Now?” kind of feels like “Out of the Woods” part 2. While “Out of the Woods” begs to know, “are we good yet?”, “Is It Over Now?” asks, with just a dash of hope that the answer is no, “are we done yet?”
Both songs also reference a snowmobile accident that Taylor Swift and Harry Styles were allegedly in together, with lyrics like “remember when you hit the brakes too soon” in “Out of the Woods,” and “red blood, white snow” in “Is It Over Now?”, and an inviting couch that both Taylor and “she” laid down on. Even the “Out of the Woods” music video calls to this lyric, as it shows Taylor diving off of a cliff!
‘I’m trying to see the cards that you won’t show, I’m about to fold unless you say don’t go’ – Taylor Swift
Another in the long line of poetic Taylor Swift analogies, using cards to illustrate the excitement and misery of being with someone who won’t fully give themself to you.
‘If they call me a slut, it might as well be worth it for once’ – Taylor Swift
Admittedly, this isn’t necessarily one of Taylor Swift’s most brilliantly crafted lyrics, but I like that it shows an early awareness of how public perception is affecting her life in a much more vulnerable manner than we see in “Blank Space” on the 1989 album.
‘You were so magnetic, it was almost obnoxious, flush with the currency of cool. I was always turning out my empty pockets’ – Taylor Swift
This lyric sets such a mesmerizing stage for “Suburban Legends,” which I think is a criminally underrated vault track from 1989 (Taylor’s Version)! Taylor Swift’s best lyrical moments are the ones that you just can’t help but insert yourself into, and this one is practically a portal transporting you directly to that time “they” were effortlessly charming the crowd while you anxiously second guessed everything you might say back.
‘I didn’t come here to make friends, we were born to be suburban legends’ – Taylor Swift
I love this lyric for two reasons. The first, is its confidence. She knows exactly what she wants, and she came here to get it. It’s kind of like how the re-recording of “You Belong With Me” took the song from one of desire to one of decisiveness. They belong with her. They were born to be suburban legends!
I also just love the term “suburban legends,” and the mental images it immediately brings to mind of those relationships from high school that seemed to be written in the stars. Maybe some of them even were!
‘I broke my own heart ’cause you were too polite to do it’ – Taylor Swift
This lyric is essentially the opposite of the “All Too Well” “so casually cruel in the name of being honest” lyric, which tells us that we’re dealing with two very different people and relationships. It feels like this lyric from “Suburban Legends” is a lead up to the album’s finale, “Clean,” especially since the very next lyric talks about waves crashing on the shore.