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 "Daylight" by Taylor Swift mean?

What does "Daylight" by Taylor Swift mean?

Lyrics Meaning of “Daylight“

(The following blog post is a transcript created by Xalma of the below video.)

Taylor Swift is an incredible lyricist, and one of my all time favourite songs by her is ‘Red’; which made it all the more amazing when I heard references to that song in today's song, ‘Daylight’, from Taylor’s newest album, Lover, which initially was going to be titled Daylight by the way, which I wouldn’t have minded it to be honest; you see, this song is important to Taylor Swift's fans, because it’s a clear change in the growth and development of her character, both as a songwriter and as a human being in general; ‘Red’ is the archetypal “The relationship didn’t work” song; there are a lot of these sad colours associated with the fallout of the relationship, but the relationship itself was hot red, exciting, passionate, and adventurous; but is that what Taylor Swift still wants? Do we change as we grow, and decide that we want something maybe a little bit less exciting? Well, let’s see what she has to say about that.

In an interview she had with Elle, she said:

I’ve come to a realization that I need to be able to forgive myself for making the wrong choice, trusting the wrong person, or figuratively falling on my face in front of everyone. Step into the daylight and let it go.
— Taylor Swift

If you listen to the song, you’d see that this is basically what this whole album is about; so I don’t know why she didn’t name it Daylight… *taking a deep breath* I am over it now.

Verse One

My love was as cruel as the cities I lived in
everyone looked worse in the light
there are so many lines that I've crossed unforgiven
I'll tell you the truth, but never goodbye

This could be her making a reference to how many relationships she’s had; she is also saying “yes, I love people passionately and ferociously, but as soon as I wasn’t interested anymore, I say goodbye”; because as she got to know people a little bit more, when it wasn’t at a party or in the night; she’d see the real them in the daylight that comes; and when that happens, she’d tell them what she thinks of them, and then she just disappears.

Verse Two

Luck of the draw only draws the unlucky
And so I became the butt of the joke
I wounded the good and I trusted the wicked
Clearing the air, I breathed in the smoke

I wonder if this too is a reference to the reputation that she’s got for hopping from a relationship to a relationship, being a serial dater; and so her dating life became a thing; people would laugh and say “that this person is dating a lot like Taylor Swift”. Then she says “I wounded the good and I trusted the wicked”, so as she said in the interview, she trusted the wrong people, and pushed away the people who actually loved and cared about her. Then we have this bit of clever lyric writing, “Clearing the air, I breathed in the smoke”, where is used a cliche, and turned it into a clever imagery; so when she tried to tell people what happened, she suffered for it; when she tried to explain things, it only backfired on her.

Maybe you ran with the wolves and refused to settle down
Maybe I've stormed out of every single room in this town
Threw out our cloaks and our daggers because it's morning now
It's brighter now, now

I think that’s her talking to Joe Alwyn; he didn’t want to settle down, and she stormed out of rooms, they’ve had fights; and now it’s the morning, and although usually in the mornings and in the daylight she picks up and leaves, they’re still together.


I don't wanna look at anything else now that I saw you
I don't wanna think of anything else now that I thought of you
I've been sleeping so long in a 20-year dark night
And now I see daylight, I only see daylight

Taylor Swift was like 27-28 years old when she wrote that; which would’ve meant that these 20 years started back when she was 7-8, if the specific number matters; maybe it was the first time she liked a boy in her school or something; so it’s been 20 years of sucky love life, until now, maybe it’s finally working.

There is this question that pops up though, why did she change the use of the daylight metaphor? Because daylight here has kind of changed to being this good thing, instead of this that exposes flaws, so she sees people and realise that she doesn't like them anymore. Let’s read the bridge, maybe we’ll get an answer.


And I can still see it all (In my mind)
All of you, all of me (Intertwined)
I once believed love would be (Black and white)
But it's golden (Golden)
And I can still see it all (In my head)
Back and forth from New York (Sneaking in your bed)
I once believed love would be (Burning red)

Here is that clear reference to her old work, which is so cool

But it's golden
Like daylight, like daylight
Like daylight, daylight

So that daylight, the clarity, that ability to see the truth, that ruined relationships for her before; she finally found a guy who still looks good in the daylight; and maybe she’s grown and matured a little bit to where she’s able to accept somebody, who even in the daylight, he’s probably not quite perfect; the passion, the excitement of love, the red has now given way to the ability to see and accept each other for who they really are; it’s a beautiful metaphor and a beautiful development; but again, WHY DIDN’T THIS ALBUM GET NAMED DAYLIGHT?! This is the most important song in the whole album… *taking a deeper breath this time*

Such a powerful song, give it a listen here.

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