Hidden Messages in Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’ Liner Notes Revealed
Almost as exciting as the release Taylor Swift‘s long-awaited fourth studio album is decoding the not-so-hidden messages in the ‘Red’ liner notes. With each album, the superstar leaves clues as to who might have influenced each song by capitalizing certain letters in the lyrics. Put them together and… Well, you find out she was pretty inspired by the Kennedy family on this new album.
The ‘Red’ liner notes messages reveal that a number of songs could have been inspired by Swift’s romance with Jake Gyllenhaal, but not necessarily the ones you’d expect. Taste of Country decoded the ‘Red’ insert to reveal the 16 secret messages. After each, we offer a theory as to who the song is likely about. A few stumped us. Want to share your two cents? Hit up the comments section below.
Taylor Swift ‘Red’ Liner Notes Messages:
Song: 1. ‘State of Grace’
Hidden Message: I LOVE YOU DOESN’T COUNT AFTER GOODBYE
What it Means: The album begins on a sour note. In fact, the first five songs find Swift dealing with lovers past more than lovers future. It’s not clear who this lyric is about, but the line that goes “Just twin fire signs / Four blue eyes” has us thinking it’s the same guy who inspired the title track.
Song: 2. ‘Red’
Hidden Message: SAG
What it Means: “SAG” could be short for Sagittarius, which is the astrological sign that Jake Gyllenhaal falls under. It could also be an abbreviation for Screen Actors Guild, which would work for the actor. However, that’s sort of boring, so we lean toward the stars to reveal who the title track is after. Swift is also a Sagittarius.
Song: 3. ‘Treacherous’
Hidden Message: WONT STOP TILL IT’S OVER
What it Means: If Swift is as sneaky with her lyrics as she is with her liner notes messages, this song could be another written about John Mayer. Clues include words in the song like “gravity” (a 2007 hit for Mayer) and another line about his hands, a reference to ‘Your Body Is a Wonderland.’
Song: 4. ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’
Hidden Message: WHEN YOU SAW ME DANCING
What it Means: It will take some time for the stories of all 16 cuts on ‘Red’ to come out. Swift has had a number of romances go sour in recent years, and ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ could be about any of them.
Song: 5. ‘All Too Well’
Hidden Message: MAPLE LATTE
What it Means: We’re just guessing, but Swift was spotted with Jake Gyllenhaal at Fido Cafe — a hot coffee spot in Nashville — around Thanksgiving 2010. It’s a coffee shop, and November is a great time to order a maple latte.
Song: 6. ’22’
Hidden Message: ASHLEY DIANNA CLAIRE SELENA
What it Means: This four names are likely Taylor Swift’s four besties, Selena Gomez, Dianna Agron (from ‘Glee’), stylist Ashley Avignone and Claire Kislinger. The girls enjoy hanging out for dress-up parties, and Swift tweets about them quite a bit.
Song: 7. ‘I Almost Do’
Hidden Message: WROTE THIS INSTEAD OF CALLNG
What it Means: This song’s placement on the album is important, as ‘Red’ seems almost split into two halves, with one or two exceptions. The first eight cuts are about the end of love, and the next are about finding new love. ‘I Almost Do’ finds the singer missing someone she’s separated from and knowing it’s a bad idea to call, but still fighting the irresistible urge. Our guess is that the same person inspired ‘Sad Beautiful Tragic.’
Song: 8. ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’
Hidden Message: WHEN I STOPPED CARING WHAT YOU THOUGHT
What it Means: It’s widely assumed that this song is about Gyllenhaal, but Swift’s story that it was inspired by a friend of the guy’s who visited her in studio leave one believing it was a musician who treated her so poorly. Will Anderson, frontman for Virginia indie rock band Parachute, is a name that has surfaced recently. We like him as the guilty party.
Song: 9. ‘Stay Stay Stay’
Hidden Message: DAYDREAMING ABOUT REAL LOVE
What it Means: We’ll take Swift’s word for it that this song is just a daydream and nothing else.
Song: 10. ‘The Last Time’
Hidden Message: LA ON YOUR BREAK
What it Means: It took us forever to figure out it wasn’t ‘Laon Your Break’ but rather ‘L.A. on your break.’ Someone dumped Swift in Los Angeles, during a break from… a movie? Recording an album? Busing tables at the local Applebees? The first two are more likely, and since L.A. means Hollywood we’ll assume it was Gyllenhaal.
Song: 11. ‘Holy Ground’
Hidden Message: WHEN YOU CAME TO THE SHOW IN SD
What it Means: Taylor Swift didn’t play any shows in South Dakota during her Speak Now Tour, but she did play an Oct. 20, 2011 date in San Diego. Those who followed her arm lyrics from show to show wondered if there was a narrative, and this song only encourages that dangerous idea. Leading up to the San Diego show, Swift’s mood changed and the arm lyrics became more cheerful. The good feelings lasted for several weeks. Some speculate that this song may be about mending old broken bridges with Joe Jonas — though, only as friends.
Song: 12. ‘Sad Beautiful Tragic’
Hidden Message: WHILE YOU WERE ON A TRAIN
What it Means: This song will be the most debated of all 16 cuts on ‘Red.’ With ‘Back to December’ in mind, it’s hard to believe Swift thinks of her relationship with Mayer as “beautiful.” There’s regret in her voice as she looks back on what could have been, so we’re led to believe the ballad is about a romance that ended peacefully. Taylor Lautner, perhaps?
Song: 13. ‘The Lucky One’
Hidden Message: WOULDNT YOU LIKE TO KNOW
What it Means: Yes, we would. Which Hollywood or Nashville singer inspired Swift to write this song, the one from ‘Red’ that isn’t about love or heartbreak? Our money’s on Joni Mitchell, which makes sense since Swift is in line to play her in a movie.
Song: 14. ‘Everything Has Changed’
Hidden Message: HYANNIS PORT
What it Means: Swift wrote this song with Ed Sheeran over the summer, after rumors of her relationship with Conor Kennedy began to heat up. The lyric message leaves no doubt as to who this song is about. In fact, one could argue the last three songs are about Conor Kennedy and his family.
Song: 15. ‘Starlight’
Hidden Message: FOR ETHEL
What it Means: That’s Ethel Kennedy that Swift is referring to in her hidden message. The story in ‘Starlight’ paints a picture of Mrs. Kennedy’s love and marriage to Robert F. Kennedy. Swift has said multiple times how much she loves the Kennedy matriarch, and this one is painfully obvious.
Song: 16. ‘Begin Again’
Hidden Message: I WEAR HEELS NOW
What it Means: The story comes full circle for Swift, ending with a song that finds the singer more confident than ever. The last few songs leave one feeling jubilant about the idea of love that is squashed so thoroughly early on the album. Is this song also about finding Conor? It would seem so.
You Think You Know Taylor Swift?