Taylor Swift. That’s it, that's the intro! But really. Taylor Swift is a household name accumulating over 80 million monthly listeners. She’s been on tours, made hundreds of songs, and is one of the most popular pop artists currently. Taylor has many songs that tell stories and here I'm going to get into one of her most famous ones: The August, Betty, James trilogy.
The characters in this story are of course James, August, Betty, and then Enes. The first song in the trilogy (in order of story telling not in order of which song is first on the album) is Betty. It’s told from the perspective of 17 year old James and his account of how the affair started, and his attempts to win Betty back. In the beginning, he uses words to explain his fear of betty finding out like “I won't make assumptions about why you switched your homeroom but I think it's 'cause of me” He goes on to explain how Inez told Betty and how he tries to win her back by showing up to her party, un announced by the way, and begs for her forgiveness. In the bridge, it's explained that the affair between James and the unknown girl started as James was "walking home on broken cobblestones" and she pulled up in her car. "She said 'James, get in, let's drive'/Those days turned into nights/Slept next to her, but/I dreamt of you all summer long," James explains in the worst way possible. We are James haters here if you couldn’t guess. The song ends with James showing up to her party saying “Will you have me? Will you love me? Will you kiss me on the porch in front of all your stupid friends? If you kiss me, will it be just like I dreamed it? Will it patch your broken wings? I'm only 17, I don't know anything but I know I miss you” One, calling her friends stupid is NOT the way to win her over. And two, saying “I’m only 17 I don’t know anything” is a cop out. Don’t be like James guys.
On to the next song in trilogy order, August. Now technically the song just takes place in august but many fans have taken it upon themselves to label the unknown girl in the affair as Augustine. Back on track, this song is told from the perspective of the “other woman” aka august. This song really highlights the unimportance of August's character in James' life. Said unimportance in her lover’s life is underlined by the fact that she doesn’t even get a name. She's barely even mentioned in the other songs but finally, she gets her turn to share her side. The song starts with her saying how she “never needed anything more” all she wanted was James and he’s all she needed. The lyrics ``But I can see us lost in the memory August slipped away into a moment in time ‘cause it was never mine. And I can see us twisted in bedsheets. August sipped away like a bottle of wine ‘cause you were never mine” this shows August reminiscing on her time with James and realizing that he was never hers. Lyrics like “will you call when you’re back in school? I remember thinkin’ I had you'' shows her desperation for his love and her realization that he isn’t hers. August is mainly recalling moments in this song like the time she “canceled my plans just in case you’d call,” and how, though she wanted her and James to be a real couple, deep down it was enough “to live for the hope of it all.” But really she knows that James was never hers. “ So much for summer love and saying "us" 'Cause you weren't mine to lose '' He promised her his love and what a broken promise that was. Many feel just as bad for August as they do for Betty. August was simply the unknown lover that never mattered to James.
And last but not least, Bettys song. “Cardigan” is narrated by Betty, looking back with hindsight on an intense relationship from her youth. (Taylor says she was inspired by the image of “a cardigan that still bears the scent of loss 20 years later.”) She goes on to say that with him, she felt loved and held“When I felt like I was an old cardigan under someone’s bed / You put me on and said I was your favorite.” In her telling, they had a passionate romance that ended when James cheated on her. “Chase two girls, lose the one / When you are young, they assume you know nothing.” The last line is a little dig at james’ “I'm only 17 I don't know anything” line. And honestly as she should. Anyway, in one line Betty says, “I knew everything when I was young.” She knew she’d wear the scars from the betrayal for years, and that James would “miss me once the thrill expired.” That appears to be exactly what happened as Betty recalls the night James tried to win her back by showing up at her front door unannounced. We don’t find out what came next: The song fades out as Betty repeats the wistful refrain “I knew you’d come back to me.” Taylor says “What happened in my head is that ‘Cardigan’ is Betty's perspective from like 20 to 30 years later looking back on this love that was this tumultuous thing. In my head, I think Betty and James ended up together, right? In my head, she ends up with him, but he really put her through it.”
All I want to say is, I would like to personally thank the dinosaurs that died to make fossil fuel to be treated as petrol in the cars that took her mother to the hospital to give birth to this insanely brilliant lady. She created this beautiful story out of nothing and I will always be thankful for the lyric “you drew stars around my scars but now i'm bleeding” Thank you for reading and I would definitely give these songs a listen.