By Carson Mlnarik
In case you've been living under a rock, here's some news: Taylor Swift released her seventh album, Lover, on Friday (August 23). As the LP marks a milestone in her career — 13 years since her debut album — the singer used the new release opportunity to take her patented candidness up a notch. Fans know Swift's music comes from a deeply personal place, so she let them in even further.
On each of four different Target deluxe editions of Lover, Swift included 30 pages from diaries she's kept her entire life. In addition to being a nice callback to the secret messages she'd plant in her earliest albums — remember "Date nice boys"? — it's yet another way she keeps the relationship with her fans feel more and more like a friendship. In light of her big night at Monday's 2019 VMAs, we took a look at the volumes to see what secrets she spilled in between bops.
Hiding her relationship with Joe Alwyn was especially stressful
"I'm essentially based in London, hiding out trying to protect us from the nasty world that just wants to ruin things," Taylor writes in January 2017, after the two had been together for three months without anyone finding out. "It's senseless to worry about someday not being happy when I am happy now," she resolves. She'd return that year with Reputation.
Some album tracks are a lot older than others
A Swift song can often feel like a diary page, so it's fitting that in between entries are handwritten lyrics for some of her biggest hits. One surprise is the first draft of "This Love" from 2014's 1989, which was written on October 17, 2012, just five days before Red hit shelves. Even on the eve of a release, she was still finding new inspiration.
Taylor was confident that Red would win a Grammy
"Never have I felt so good about our chances. Never have I wanted something so badly as I want to hear them say 'Red is the Album of the Year,'" Taylor wrote the night before the 2014 Grammy Awards. While she was up for four awards that night, she'd leave empty handed, inspiring her sonic transition later that year.
She was at Taco Bell when she got her first record deal
At 13, Taylor wrote about dining at America's favorite Mexican fast food chain in 2003 when she got big news from RCA. While the developmental deal didn't lead to a release, it inspired her to take a risk when Big Machine Records came along years later. The rest is history, but we have to wonder, did she get a Baja Blast?
There are still so many songs we haven't heard
While writing for Red, the singer mentions an unreleased track called "Nothin' New." The lyrics describe the uneasiness of growing up, and knowing "everything at 18, and nothing at 22." It sounds like a precursor to "22," and we're dying to hear it. This isn't the first time a Red demo has resurfaced (see "Babe" by Sugarland), so perhaps we'll see more one day.
Becoming OK with her body was a journey
Taylor wrote openly about dieting as a teenager over the years. "It's so weird how fast I can gain or lose weight," she said in an entry after Thanksgiving 2006. "I'm going to lose some now." This year, she addressed body confidence in a piece for Elle, stating she’s learned to "stop hating every ounce of fat" on her body.
Her first Met Gala was mind-blowing
While 2016's Bleachella marked her first time as co-chair, Swift made her debut at "THE party of the year" in 2008 wearing Badgley Mischka. She described the frenzy of paparazzi on both sides of the stairs and seeing "every celebrity ever created," including Scarlett Johansson, Beyoncé, and Jon Bon Jovi, who talked to her.
It took a while to be OK with critics
Tay oozes confidence, but at age 20, she called criticism of her performance "the biggest source of pain in my life." On the heels of the Fearless tour, she wrote about experiencing stage fright every time she performed as a result, and later addressed critics directly in "Mean."
"All Too Well" was originally even more detailed
One of the biggest sells for Swifties was the promise of original lyrics for the Holy Grail track on the deluxe editions. Both the first and final drafts reveal additional details like childhood photos sitting on the fireplace and the last seen location of the storied missing scarf: on an ex's sister's banister.
Tay went through an astrology phase
As a Sagittarius, Tay's strengths include generosity and idealism. In 2010, the singer, who wrote in an earlier entry that she hadn’t kissed a boy in 209 days, muses over a horoscope predicting someone new would come into her life. With a lack of romantic prospects, she retorts, "Maybe I'll get an email or call. From someone fantastic (...) Or maybe I won't. That's more likely."
She really didn't know where music would take her
Most of Taylor's early entries are about fear of failure in the industry and her big dreams. Next to doodles, she practices her autograph, noting, "That could be worth money someday!! Just kidding hehe." After writing "The Outside" at age 14, which appeared on her debut two years later, she notes, "I don't know if it'll go anywhere, but it made me feel better."
The "normal days" are the best ones
Taylor has been open about mental health, and her diaries reveal the importance she places on quality time with family. She describes in detail a carefree day antiquing with her mom to find a chandelier for the foyer and doubts she will ever look back at any No. 1 party as "fondly" or as "frequently."
She worries about the social-media generation
In a 2013 entry, Taylor described the feeling of being "hunted" as a celebrity and voiced concern about future generation's obsession with posting photos so they could "spend all day checking the comments." She critiqued the "level of possession," adding, "They will never truly experience a moment without attempting to capture it and own it."