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October 15, 2014

We know Taylor always drops in coy references to her real heartbreaks. Is this song a slam on One Direction member Harry Styles, or the 113th Congress?

Taylor Swift.jpg

Taylor Swift smiling as she thinks of her new love, Elizabeth Warren’s fiscal policies. (Photo via wikimedia commons)

Taylor Swift fans woke up to a gorgeous surprise yesterday morning: The newest single from “1989,” her upcoming album, has dropped.

“Out Of The Woods” is a moody, synth-heavy ballad co-written with fun. drummer Jack Antonoff. Like many Taylor Swift songs, Tay clearly drew on real heartbreak to write it. But who is “Out Of the Woods” about? Could it be One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles, with whom Swift shared a whirlwind romance? Or is it about the contentious midterm Senate elections? Let’s take a look at the lyrics.

Looking at it now
It all seems so simple
We were lying on your couch
I remember
You took a Polaroid of us
Then discovered
The rest of the world was black and white
But we were in screaming color

Taylor Swift dated Harry Styles from fall 2012 through January 2013, when they abruptly broke it off. They both love selfies and sitting on couches, so this clue could point to the song being about their romance.

On the other hand, consider the lyric “We were lying on your couch.” Maybe Taylor means “lying” as in “telling lies.” That would clearly mean that the “you” she’s addressing is the Koch brothers, shadowy billionaires who have poured millions into backing conservative candidates through secretive slush funds. The couch, in this case, is a metaphor for the electoral map. Taylor’s never afraid to share her heartbreak through her music, or to share her disappointment that the Senate failed to overturn Citizens United (Remember her hit “We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Campaign Finance Reform”? Burn!).

“The rest of the world was black and white/But we were in screaming color” could refer to the giddy rush of new love with Harry. But to Swift superfans (where my Swifties at?!), it seems far more likely that Tay’s making a reference to the contentious three way senate race in Nebraska. Both political parties are “screaming color” and the color is green. Money. Sneaky Taylor! If you hurt her, she will call you OUT.

And I remember thinking…
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods?
Are we in the clear yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
In the clear yet, good.

Swift has said in interviews that the song is about a troubled relationship. “This was a relationship where I was kind of, living day to day, wondering where it was going, if it was going to go anywhere, if it was going to end the next day,” she said. “It was a relationship where you, kind of, never feel like you’re standing on solid ground.”

Harry and Taylor (Haylor!) certainly had that kind of relationship - after just a few on-and-off months together, they broke up in the middle of a vacation. But that also describes to a T Taylor’s rocky relationship with the US Congress (Tayngress!). They’ve been the most unproductive Congress in history, thanks to partisan infighting, and to a sensitive girl like Taylor, that can hurt.

Looking at it now
Last December, we were built to fall apart
Then fall back together
Your necklace hanging from my neck
The night we couldn’t quite forget
When we decided
To move the furniture so we could dance
Baby, like we stood a chance
Two paper airplanes flying, flying…

Taylor Swift and Harry Styles seemed to hit a rough patch in December 2012, before finally breaking up in January. And he was spotted sporting an airplane necklace identical to his. This verse is full of clues that tip the scales toward Harry.

Remember when you hit the brakes too soon
Twenty stitches in a hospital room
When you started crying
Baby, I did too
But when the sun came up
I was looking at you
Remember when we couldn’t take the heat
I walked out, I said “I’m setting you free”
But the monsters turned out to be just trees

But this verse could not be more clearly about the US Senate. Taylor has said that the “twenty stitches” line is a reference to a snowmobile accident with an ex. You know who loves snowmobiles?

Sarah Palin.jpg

That’s right, the Palins. Obviously what Taylor is trying to tell us is that she infiltrated a top secret conservative summit at the Palin compound by seducing a high level GOP operative (likely Dick Cheney) and when her lover had outlived his or her usefulness, Taylor attempted to dispose of them in a snowmobile accident. But Dick Cheney did not die, and as he sobbed, pleading for his life, Taylor chose to set him free, since he knew her only by her pseudonym, Ayn. As the sun rose, Taylor made her escape from the compound, dodging the genetically engineered tree-monsters guarding the perimeter, carrying with her information about the collusion of big business, shadowy government forces, and both political parties, ready to impart it to us in song just in time for the midterms.

I don’t know about you guys, but I cannot stop humming this one!