Taylor Swift and the “Nothing New” You

Sometimes Knowing Nothing Can Mean Everything

Cali Yee / 11.18.21

With a mastery over heart wrenching lyrics and enchanting narratives, Taylor Swift has always been, and continues to be, the voice for feeling your feelings. Many of the songs that have been written by Swift are about her past relationships — we know this, she’s been criticized for this, blah blah blah. But folklore and evermore were poetic proof that she can write about more than romance. Heartbreak or not, it’s hard to ignore her incredible ability to validate people’s emotions through her lyrics. They are an “epiphany” in every sense of the word. 

Her most recent endeavor, the re-release of Red (Taylor’s Version), is more than a remix of her past songs. And one of the new songs from the ‘vault’ (ie. written in 2012 but not put on the original album) stands out among the rubble of heartache. It’s entitled “Nothing New” and features the soothing voice of Phoebe Bridgers.

The song’s slow tempo flows beautifully with haunting melodies, soft harmonies, and candid lyrics. Age is a significant theme as the singer grapples with the emotional process of growing older. She whispers the question “Lord, what will become of me / Once I’ve lost my novelty?” As if to point out society’s draw towards that which is youthful and fresh. The chorus is what really hits home:

I’ve had too much to drink tonight
And I know it’s sad but this is what I think about
And I wake up in the middle of the night
It’s like I can feel time moving
How can a person know everything at eighteen
But nothing at twenty-two?
And will you still want me when I’m nothing new?

Perhaps you also felt ready to conquer the world at 18. You were an adult — free from your parents or any need for a legal guardian. Maybe you knew where you wanted to go and what you wanted to do after high school. It felt like you knew everything you needed to know about yourself. I just need to move out, leave my hometown, and experience new adventures. 

But sometimes (oftentimes) things don’t go as planned. Sometimes you have to move home because of a global pandemic. Sometimes you turn 22 and the only thing that feels constant in your life is the existential crisis you are having over your purpose in life. 

I am currently 22. I thought I knew everything at 18. And I am happy (really, actually teary-eyed) to report that Taylor is right — I know nothing

A month ago, saying that I knew nothing sounded awful. It felt like a gut punch to the stomach, a wake up call at 6am after staying up until 2am. There I was, a college grad thrown into the land of adulthood with no idea how to be one. But today, admitting that I know absolutely nothing about the future — in all its meal prep and rental bills galore — feels like a relief. It’s a weight off the shoulders that are burdened with the expectations of ourselves and the world. 

To say that we know nothing is to acknowledge our own helplessness. This goes against the grain of our efficient and productive seeking culture. But it follows the trail of grace that is left behind by our Creator. 

When we speak aloud our fear of the unknown or our anxieties over our next steps, we open ourselves up to see the mercy of God. We aren’t wanted because we are shiny, new, and exciting. We aren’t valued by our capacity to know everything.

And in the midst of not knowing what the heck we are doing, we learn that life isn’t so much about following the key to a map as it is about rolling with its punches. As we navigate what “making it” truly means, perhaps we discover that it’s merely smoke and mirrors. And maybe, just maybe, the one thing you’ve been grasping for has been there all along.

Jesus wants the tired eyed, bed head, morning breath, “nothing new” you. He wants the person who’s in the midst of yet another anxiety attack. He wants the grown-up woman crying on the bathroom floor, singing (or screaming) the lyrics to a Taylor Swift break-up song.

Other noteworthy songs (all of them are fantastic) on Red (Taylor’s Version):

  • State of Grace” (Taylor’s Version)(Acoustic Version) — A reminder of what grace-like love looks like
  • Holy Ground” (Taylor’s Version) — For frolicking in the meadow or on the downtown streets
  • The Last Time” (Taylor’s Version) — It features Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol, what more could you want?

And last but certainly not least…

  • All Too Well” (Taylor’s Version)(10-minute version) — This lyrical and musical masterpiece is worth every second. And teardrop…