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My name's Clifford Stumme, and I explain the deeper meanings of popular songs. Let's have a conversation about what you think about the songs and go deeper together. Feel free to email me at clifford@popsongprofessor.com with questions or ideas!

What does "Wildest Dreams" by Taylor Swift mean?

Released in October of 2014, Taylor Swift's 1989 album is still current news. On August 25th, she re-released "Wildest Dreams," the ninth track from the album, as a single, and on the 30th, she released an accompanying music video featuring an African movie set, plenty of lions, and a story line about romanticization.

According to Wikipedia, the song uses Swift's heartbeat as its beat, which is most evident during the first twelve seconds of the song. While her heart has obviously been "remixed," the sound is distinctly that of a heartbeat and not only makes the song a relaxing listening experience, but also suggests the emotional significance Taylor Swift attaches to this song.

"Wildest Dreams" Lyrics Meaning

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift

"Wildest Dreams" is about a relationship doomed to end. However, Taylor is not yet ready to let go. Not only is he attractive, but he's masculine and assertive--he's her perfect man. The lyrics explain that while they are still together now, Swift foresees the end of the relationship and hopes that this man won't completely forget her.

After Taylor Swift's heartbeat begins the song, she launches into the First Verse: "He said, 'Let's get out of this town, / Drive out of the city, away from the crowds.'" Here he shows his assertiveness and ability to sweep her off her feet. 

She's completely smitten by him: "I thought heaven can't help me now." But she knows the relationship won't last "forever" and that "this is gonna take me down"--the end of this relationship will hurt her, but she's going to enjoy it while she can. 

The Pre-chorus is bittersweet. While she describes her man as “so tall and handsome as hell,” she “can see the end as it begins.” She’s going to enjoy the relationship while she can with this man who is “so bad” but “does it so well.” Then, she’ll be willing to let it go.

She’ll move on and let him move on too, but she has “one condition,” which she explains in the chorus: “Say you’ll remember me standing in a nice dress, / Staring at the sunset, babe / Red lips and rosy cheeks.” She wants him to have enjoyed the relationship while it lasted and to know that it wasn’t all nothing–he wasn’t playing her. She wants him to admit he’ll “see [her] again / Even if it’s just in your wildest dreams . . .”

This reference to “wildest dreams” suggests a heavy conflict in Taylor Swift’s approach to the ending relationship. While she seems ready to move on (and only has “one condition”), she actually may be reluctant to let this man go. She wants him to still dream of her. If she knows that he dreams of her, she’ll know she wasn’t being played and that what they had was real even if it was only temporary.

The viewer can see this in the music video, in which Taylor Swift and “the man” prepare to act a love scene on an African Safari movie set, reminiscent of Meryl Streep’s Out of Africa and similar movies. Up until the chorus, Swift and her man are obviously actors, but once the chorus begins (at the moment that the two kiss), the cameras (mostly) melt away. The two stand alone staring at sunsets and the camera sweeps over inspiring images of African geography and wildlife, consistently coming back to see the two kissing, hugging, or speaking to each other.

These are the “wildest dreams” that the song refers to. In Taylor’s wildest dreams (and, she hopes, in the man’s) kissing isn’t a job for them. It’s something real, and it means something to them both. The occasional appearance of a camera reminds the viewers and Taylor that despite how much she enjoys these dreams, they will eventually end, and she will have to return to reality.

In Verse 2, she sings about the sexual, physical side of the relationship: “I said, ‘No one has to know what we do,’ / His hands are in my hair, his clothes are in my room / And his voice is a familiar sound.” The relationship has been going well for Taylor. She enjoys its passion and the togetherness and familiarity she feels with him. She wants to fight the idea that “[n]othing lasts forever,” claiming that “this is getting good now.”

The music video’s portion during Verse 2 happens inside, away from the dream-like landscapes. Taylor and the man have slept together, but eventually he stands up from the bed to return to the work of acting, suggesting that he may only be acting in love with Taylor. During the following pre-chorus, Taylor becomes angry, realizing this relationship is only temporary for him. But once the chorus hits, she begins dreaming again, forgetting her anger long enough to hope that the relationship could actually last.

In the Bridge, Taylor sings, “You’ll see me in hindsight / Tangled up with you all night / Burning it down.” This sexual reference is a suggestion to prompt more “wildest dreams” from Taylor’s man. She wants him to long for her and to wistfully remember their days together.

She finishes the Bridge by singing, “Someday when you leave me / I bet these memories / Follow you around,” suggesting either that she hopes this man will never be able to forget her or that she knows he’ll never be able to forget her. The music video vacillates between wild and dreamy African scenery and shots of the two being “together.”

Once the bridge finishes, the imagery of the African settings melt away, and Taylor and her man are revealed to be acting on a sound stage in Hollywood. Not only did Taylor’s dreaming make the romance seem more real, but her dreams made the scenery more real. When the mesmerizing scenery disappears, it highlights the unreality of the relationship between Taylor and the man because once they’ve said their lines, he leaves her on set alone.

When the two later arrive at the initial screening for the movie, the male actor is kissing another woman and now wears a wedding band that he didn’t have before. The woman sports an engagement ring and a wedding band as well. During the movie’s showing, Taylor searches his face for any emotion or love, but he shows none, so she leaves and drives away, the man running into the street to try to catch her. She is through with him, and now he knows how he has hurt her.

What do you think about “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift? What do you think it means? Please share! Thanks for reading.

 

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