Eight Taylor Swift Lyrics as Good as Any in Country Music

Categories: Strum & Twang

5. "She's not what you think/ She's an actress/ She's better known for the things that she does/ On the mattress."
From "Better Than Revenge"

Musically, "Better Than Revenge" is all pop-punk pique, a ferocious piffle that's two parts cake frosting and one part flamethrower. Lyrically, it's mostly been picked over for its alleged autobiographical elements: The story goes that some Disney-channel hunk cheated on Swift with some blandly beautiful starlet. But Swift's words will still command attention long after those cheaters have been forgotten: That mattress/actress couplet should shut down the fools who think nobody writes like Loretta Lynn anymore. Then there's the snarling line "No amount of vintage dresses gives you dignity," which is like Loretta times Liz Phair times the kind of dishy thing your friends might say.

4. "Wearing a gown shaped like a pastry"
From "Speak Now"

Those barroom Roses that Loretta sent to Fist City have no home in Swift's suburbia, but here the old story remains the same: A good woman marches into enemy territory to claim a man some floozy purloined. Pretty much the last third of a romantic comedy smooshed into a song, "Speak Now" exemplifies country music's narrative impulse -- that love of storytelling that has helped lure many listeners from rock radio, where lyrics still tend toward the abstract.

Swift's narrator shows up at the wedding of the guy who should be with her -- probably the same chump from "You Belong With Me" -- and steels herself to declare her love when the preacher gets to the forever-hold-your-peace moment. Swift is extravagant with detail: all these families and friends; pastry-shaped dresses; the organ playing a "death march." Before the final choruses, as her heroine plucks up the gumption to "speak now," she describes "shaking hands" and "horrified looks" -- the Loretta Lynn-style fist fights of Generation Awkward. Then the chorus hits, and real feeling bursts through all the shopworn decorum.

3. "The story of us looks a lot like a tragedy now"
From "The Story of Us"

Swift belts this old-fashioned tag-line/punchline after a Superbowl-sized holler-along chorus, and over sour-candy guitars that owe more to the Ramones than to Chet Atkins. But it's still an old-fashioned tag-line/punchline, both wry and despairing, one worthy of a George and Tammy duet. Not that the song is some cutesy throwback. For all its hurtling rock energy, this is perhaps Swift's most cutting examination of a failing relationship. With more feeling than critics ascribe her, she cries, "I'm standing alone in a crowded room/ And we're not speaking," encapsulating in two lines what a love affair's slow-motion collapse actually feels like. That line -- and much of the song in general -- recalls "Something's Gotta Give," the centerpiece break-up song off the Drive-by Truckers' best record, which further demonstrates that Swift, at her best, ranks with today's best songwriters.


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Taylor Swift is one of the best country music star... i must say that taylor swift need a bit more time to be as a mature lady in music... a bit more time ... 

Yanlove
Yanlove

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Ofalaska
Ofalaska

Taylor is growing faster than most people can keep track or imagine. The 'pure country' crowd is as ossified as a petrified tree, the Means have already lost, (she's too big to hurt now) and her passion for history is a mystery to the ignorant of it. Meanwhile she's a refuge for millions of girls struggling with their own identities and the finest young woman this country has produced. Keep it up Taylor!

nyrangers
nyrangers

Too many pop songs chosen here. She has plenty of music that will never make it on the radio but is some of her best stuff. Cold as you and Tim Mcgraw deserve recognition but there are better lines in those songs to be praised. The reason people feel that she is all pop is because of articles like this, recognizing her upbeat pop songs and letting the good ballads fall by the way side. 

I would name lyrics that should be mentioned but I don't have all day to do that.

tired of the kids
tired of the kids

'Generation Awkward.' This. Why is it no young woman these days can even make eye contact with a grown up?

Alan Scherstuhl
Alan Scherstuhl

Wait, is Caitlin Flanagan leaving anonymous web comments now?

Nm4dbfuid
Nm4dbfuid

I like this post! :)

But as Taylor's fan, I love some other lyrics instead of these:1) "please don't be in love with someone else, please don't have somebody waiting on you" - enchanted2) "I go back in time and change it but I can't, but if we love again, I swear I'd love you right" back to December3) "I'll be waiting for you ever since you've been gone, I just want it back the way it was before, I just want to see you back at my front door" - if this was a movie4) "and I stare at the phone, he still hasn't call, and then you feel so low, you can't do nothing at all and you flash back to when he said forever and always" - forever and always5) "love like a sinner, lose like a winner, nothing shatters proof" - sweet tea and god's graces

I love Taylor Swift!!

Haggie
Haggie

pop crap.

how about listening to jamey johnson'my sweet wife was my best friend but i traded that for cocaine and a whore'that is a real country music lyric

Alan Scherstuhl
Alan Scherstuhl

Johnson's "Playing the Part" and "Can't Cash My Checks" are about as good as modern country gets. But dismissing Swift as "pop crap" shows you worry too much about marketing categories and not enough about the actual music.

Jjskck
Jjskck

I find it annoying that music gets to be as vapid as it wants to be as long as it is labeled as "POP". I think it's because hipper-than-thou types can pretend to enjoy it ironically. Hit it with any other genre's stamp and people act like it has to carry some burden of depth or authenticity. What does that shit even mean, anyway? Do you really think NWA's lyrics were autobiographical? Does Thom Yorke repeating gibberish phrases over and over again make that music deeper than something literal and heartfelt? (Seriously - I love Radiohead, and some of their lyrics are downright profound...but some of it's nonsense. Admit it.)

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