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Taylor Swift "State of Grace" Lyrics Breakdown: This Love Gets Mythic

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The more we listen to Taylor Swift's "State of Grace" the more we like it ... and since we loved it the first time we heard it, that should tell you something. The opening track to Swift's upcoming Red album, "Grace" is unlike anything she's ever done before, a majestic U2-style rocker that takes Taylor's voice to soaring heights.

As we've done with every Red preview track so far, we decided to break down Taylor's lyrics on "State of Grace" at the molecular level, to see if we can find out for ourselves what makes the song really tick.

I'm walking fast through the traffic lights

Busy streets and busy lives

Taylor Swift is contemporary pop's great master of small-scale detail. In her hands, a scarf, a phone call, even a song on the radio can be weighted with enormous significance. So the wide scale of these opening lines is more a departure than it seems at first: Never before has a Taylor Swift song had this much in common with Koyaanisqatsi.

And all we know is touch and go

We are alone with our changing minds

Eh, forget Koyaanisqatsi, this comes straight from the "Ants Marching" playbook:

Yes, we're only slightly joking. Taylor's using the anomic nature of the modern world not as a social criticism, but as a stand-in for the wild life of singledom. You meet someone, you click for a second, maybe you make out a little bit, then suddenly they're kind of too busy to meet next week and it's time to start the whole process again. "We are alone with our changing minds" is just a beautiful way of expressing that sentiment.

We fall in love 'til it hurts or bleeds, or fades in time

Well, that's certainly a pessimistic assessment of romance but hey, that's the first verse of a love song for you! Will things change when Taylor meets the man of her dreams? We're going to guess yes.

And I never saw you coming

And I’ll never be the same

As we pointed out in our review, this is an unusual Taylor Swift chorus in a few ways. Swift usually stuffs her refrains with all sorts of tricky turns-of-phrase—think "You made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter"—but here the lines are slowed down to a crawl, leaving Swift plenty of time to do her best Bono wail. The spartan simplicity works for the song; too much going on would have distracted from the interplay of Swift's vocals with the soaring soundscapes behind her. She's in love with this guy, she's happy, and there's not much more to say. Why not let the music do the talking?

You come around and the armor falls

Pierce the room like a cannon ball

Now all we know is don’t let go

Yes, that's a bit of an awkward rhyme, particularly with the way Swift swallows "falls." But with the first verse devoted to building up Swift's defenses, it's fitting that her guy's skills at tearing them down get treated just as mythically. He's not just charming her with little things like James Taylor name-drops like he did in "Begin Again," now he's figuratively going to war to win her heart. With emotions pitched this large, there's nowhere to go but up; in this context, the Titanic nod in the third line makes perfect sense.

We are alone just you and me

Up in your room and our slates are clean

Just twin fire signs, four blue eyes

Ah, the simple joys of being in love! Where once all she knew was loneliness, now this relationship has made Taylor feel whole. That's a trademark Swift switch in the first line, calling back the "We are alone" sentiment from the first verse, but following it up with something different so that means the exact opposite. And, compared to the slut-shame-y nonsense of "Better Than Revenge," the image of two lovers whose "slates are clean" is almost fantastically progressive.

So you were never a saint

And I love the shades of wrong

We learn to live with the pain

Mostly of broken hearts

But this love is raging and wild

If "State of Grace" had been a little too rosy in its depiction of growing love before, the song's bridge roughs things up a bit. This boy's not perfect, and neither is the relationship, but they're both going to fight for it anyway. It's hardly an original sentiment—you could make a ten-hour Spotify playlist of country songs that say the same thing—but Taylor's gift for wordplay saves the day, particularly in that "shades of wrong" line.

This is a state of grace

This is the worthwhile fight

Love is a ruthless game

Unless you play it good and right

Hey, that's the name of the song! And fittingly, it comes in the verse where we get the track's mission statement: The search for love can hurt and degrade you, but if you play the game the right way it will work out for you in the end. As a sentiment it's halfway between "Love is a Battlefield" and "All's fair in love and war," and if we were in the arguing mood we might say that it's a little too simplistic and determinist for our tastes. But as the moral in Taylor Swift Fable, it works out just fine.

These are the hands of fate

You’re my Achilles heel

This is the golden age of something good

And right and real

We'll forgive the mixed metaphors; they're worth it for the beautiful symplicy that comes afterward. What else is there to say? In the words of another blonde country star who crossed over to the pop charts, this could be the year for the real thing:

Here are the full lyrics. You can play the song at the bottom of the post!

I'm walking fast through the traffic lights

Busy streets and busy lives

And all we know is touch and go

We are alone with our changing minds

We fall in love 'til it hurts or bleeds, or fades in time

And I never saw you coming

And I’ll never be the same

You come around and the armor falls

Pierce the room like a cannon ball

Now all we know, is don’t let go

We are alone just you and me

Up in your room and our slates are clean

Just twin fire signs, four blue eyes

So you were never a saint

And I love the shades are wrong

We learn to live with the pain

Mostly of broken hearts

But this love is raging and wild

And I never saw you coming

And I’ll never be the same again

This is a state of grace

This is the worthwhile fight

Love is a ruthless game

Unless you play it good and right

These are the hands of fate

You’re my Achilles heel

This is the golden age of something good

And right and real

And I never saw you coming

And I’ll never be the same

And I never saw you coming

And I’ll never be the same

This is a state of grace

This is the worthwhile fight

Love is a ruthless game

Unless you play it good and right

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