Taylor Swift knows how to write a great breakup song. Taylor’s post-relationship ideology, however, has always seemed hyper-concerned with the fact that her exes will remember her. This idea isn’t a particularly novel one, but I am interested in how this obsession could cause one to rethink her discography as a whole.
The most recent entry is in “Wildest Dreams”, where she writes:
You'll see me in hindsight
Someday when you leave me, I'd bet these memories
Follow you around.
The word, “hindsight,” one often associated with ideas of regret, makes this song feel like Taylor plans to haunt the subject around in their long-term memories, not allowing them to escape any painful reminders of what they once had.
One of the earliest appearances exists in “Long Live”. The song speaks to a high school sweetheart as she says:
That you'll stand by me forever
But if God forbid, fate should step in
And force us into a goodbye
If you have children someday
When they point to the pictures
Please tell them my name
If the wife of the subject wasn’t already a little insecure about the fact that her husband dated Taylor Swift in high school, she’s sure as hell not going to be happy about how much her kids are talking about it.
Taylor has been criticized throughout her career for pulling the victim card in her writing, but I think she is claiming much more agency, post-relationship, than most people give her credit for. For me, this is only a small start to a larger thesis that’ll require much more than 250 words, but I’ve begun to recognize that Taylor Swift seeks not only to preserve the memory of her past through song, but to exist in an even more permanent form: human memory.