I'm Clifford Stumme, and I use literary analysis and research to explain the deeper meanings of pop songs. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me at with questions or ideas!

What does "Getaway Car" by Taylor Swift mean?

What does "Getaway Car" by Taylor Swift mean?

"Getaway Car" Lyrics Meaning 

While maybe not the most notable song on Reputation, I think "Getaway Car" is one of the better written ones. It tells a clear story and uses some excellent imagery and metaphors that really make that story come to life for listeners. The music, while certainly still pop, is more stripped down than previous tracks and offers a laid back, thoughtful wistfulness as Taylor recalls past experiences. 

"We were flyin’, but we never get far" 

"Getaway Car" seems to be clearly about a relationship that ends when Taylor Swift's narrator character runs away with someone else. In the story that Taylor tells, we hear about a relationship that's not going very well. Growing tired of that, Taylor's narrator decides she's had enough and wants something else. She decides to runaway in a nonconventional way and learns the hard way that it maybe wasn't the best idea. 

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No, nothing good starts in a getaway car

Despite "Getaway Car" being about a getaway car experience, Taylor lets us know early on that the outcome of the story will be a negative one. 

Verse 1 

It was the best of times, the worst of crimes
I struck a match and blew your mind
But I didn't mean it
And you didn’t see it
The ties were black, the lies were white
In shades of gray in candlelight
I wanted to leave him
I needed a reason

Taylor's character sings to a new boyfriend about how everything got started. It started out as "the best of times"--they enjoyed meeting each other--but they should not have done what they did--"the worst of crimes." She "struck a match and blew your mind," which could refer to a spark that lit between them. But she wasn't serious about the relationship, and he didn't realize that, so they kept going to their own detriment. 

Mixed into all of this were "ties" and "lies" that were "black" and "white" respectively, so they should have seen them, but they were blinded by their impetuous idea to runaway together. The "shades of gray candlelight" could refer to their inability to see their mistake very well and forebodes perhaps the conclusion of the story. 

And why is Taylor doing all of this? She "wanted to leave him," her current boyfriend and "needed a reason"--an excuse or a person to runaway with. 


X marks the spot where we fell apart
He poisoned the well, I was lyin' to myself
I knew it from the first Old Fashioned, we were cursed
We never had a shot, gunshot in the dark

The pre-chorus could be about either the old boyfriend or the new one, and I tend to think it's about the old boyfriend because she mostly refers to the new guy as "you" throughout the song and saves third person references for the old boyfriend. Unfortunately for him and the old boyfriend, their relationship "fell apart." She blames him for having "poisoned the well" and acknowledges that she was "lyin' to myself" when she thought it would work. In fact, she knew it was doomed "from the first Old Fashioned"--a cocktail usually made with whiskey. The last line of the pre-chorus is a clever play on the word "shot." Not only did they "never [have] a shot," but she paints an image of the relationship being murdered by a "gunshot in the dark"--sudden and painfully.


You were drivin' the getaway car
We were flyin’, but we never get far
Don't pretend it's such a mystery
Think about the place where you first met me
Ridin' in a getaway car
There were sirens in the beat of your heart
I shoulda known I'd be the first to leave
Think about the place where you first met me
In a getaway car, oh-oh-oh
No, they never get far, oh-oh-ahh
No, nothing good starts in a getaway car

Switching to a second person use of "you," Swift reminds her new interest about how he drove (or was) the "getaway car" from her old relationship. They may have been going fast, but they "never get far" because their relationship is built on too weak of a foundation. She doesn't want him to act like he doesn't know why things aren't working out and wants him instead to realize that the place their relationship started--a getaway car--wasn't conducive to a long-lasting, healthy relationship.

Even the "beat of your heart" was ill-foreboding for Taylor who heard "sirens" in it. The police--reality--were chasing her down, and she couldn't ignore them anymore. That's why she was "the first to leave": "No, nothing good starts in a getaway car."

Verse 2 

It was the great escape, the prison break
The light of freedom on my face
But you weren't thinkin'
And I was just drinkin'
Well, he was runnin’ after us, I was screamin’, "go, go, go!"
But with three of us, honey, it's a sideshow
And a circus ain’t a love story
And now we're both sorry (we're both sorry)

Taylor dramatizes her leaving with her new boyfriend by calling it a "prison break" and describing "the light of freedom on my face." She could see where she wanted to be but wouldn't be able to reach it because her new boyfriend wasn't "thinkin'," and she "was just drinkin'," so we can assume she wasn't thinking too much either. 

Apparently, the old boyfriend doesn't take to this turn of events too kindly and begins chasing them prompting Taylor to dramatically scream, "Go, go, go!" And rather than legitimizing anyone's frustrations or fixing the solution, it turns the entire scene into "a sideshow," and because "a circus ain't a love story," Taylor seems to decide she doesn't want to be part of either relationship anymore. Both she and the new boyfriend are "sorry" they tried anything at all.


We were jet-set, Bonnie and Clyde (oh-oh)
Until I switched to the other side
To the other si-i-i-i-ide
It's no surprise I turned you in (oh-oh)
'Cause us traitors never win
I'm in a getaway car
I left you in a motel bar
Put the money in a bag and I stole the keys
That was the last time you ever saw me

In the bridge of "Getaway Car," Taylor Swift sings about her and her new boyfriend as if they were "Bonnie and Clyde"--a historic criminal couple. But she doesn't last long in this alliance and soon "switched to the other side." When she says she "turned you in," she's probably referring to admitting who her new love interest is to her old boyfriend or perhaps she gives up on being together with the new boyfriend. 

But she certainly doesn't gain something from the experience, admitting that "us traitors never win." Further dramatizing the picture she's drawn, she explains her betrayal of the new boyfriend as her jumping in a private getaway car and leaving him "in a motel bar" after taking "the money in a bag" and stealing "the keys." As far as she's concerned, that "was the last time you ever saw me." She's ready to move on and leave him behind. 


I was ridin' in a getaway car
I was cryin' in a getaway car
I was dyin' in a getaway car
Said goodbye in a getaway car
Ridin' in a getaway car
I was cryin' in a getaway car
I was dyin' in a getaway car
Said goodbye in a getaway car

The outro seems to apply to the leaving of both boyfriends. Of course, it could just be the continuation of the story as she leaves the second boyfriend, but she doesn't make it clear either way. Even still, the lyrics apply to both situations. She's unhappy with her decisions, and wishes she didn't have to deal with the consequences of these relationships, so she just leaves. 

Deeper Meaning of "Getaway Car" by Taylor Swift: Running away from Our Problems 

I don't have anything deeply philosophical to say about "Getaway Car," but I want to say that I truly appreciate Taylor's honesty and vulnerability here. I think those are the two chief virtues of songwriters in the 2010's, and I think they're the ones audiences most want to hear. Taylor's not afraid to bare her soul, admit her mistakes, and acknowledge the difficult situations she's put herself in through her own decisions. In a way, she's taking responsibility for her actions, and I think that's a powerful action to model for her younger listeners. 

What do you think? 

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