taylor swift the 1

Taylor Swift – The 1 | Lyrics Meaning & Song Review

“The 1” is the first track on Taylor Swift’s 2020 album ‘Folklore.’ The song is a walk down Taylor’s memory lanes of her scars of her past relationships. These scars everso often give her painful flashbacks.

Taylor Swift announced her 8th studio album ‘Folklore’ just a few hours ahead of the album release on July 24, 2020. The album had no singles prior to the album release, and Taylor stated the reason for the ‘surprise’ album release as the “uncertainty” surrounding the world right now.

The song title credits to The One that got away. Taylor Swift tries to imagine how it would have been with this person in a perfect world. She is not suffering with these memories, but she is contemplating how much better things would be with him in her life.

Listen to “the 1” by Taylor Swift

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“the 1” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review

Verse 1

At the very beginning of the song Taylor lets us know that this song in no pity-party. She is doing good now and is past crying over heartbreaks. She is trying out this new approach to life: saying more ‘yes’ instead of ‘no.’ So, is Taylor doing okay? YES!

She also thought she saw him at the bus stop today. But of course, it is a mere figment of her imagination.

Taylor also talks about the “greatest films of all time were never made,” a throwback to the times with him when they scripted for their life ahead. It would have been the greatest love story, but it was not meant to be.

Matinée” is a piece of performance or drama that usually happens in day time.


In these lyrics, Taylor says that if he really wanted things to have worked out, he could have tried, and they could have made it work. But she is fine with it now. What’s lost is lost, and she realizes that there is no growth without pain.


But Taylor cannot help but think how great it would have been with the One. She reminisces the “roaring twenties” they could have had so much fun together. But all the pennies Taylor threw in the wishing wells could not save their relationship!

Verse 2

He lives in the subconscious of Taylor Swift no matter how much she has made peace with their breakup. This is why she keeps on having dreams about him. This time around, it is not even a good dream. She dreams of him doing “cool” stuff and going on about his cool adventures. He meets a woman on the Internet and takes her home. Taylor knows this dream should hurt. Maybe she is indifferent about it now. Maybe it does not hurt, but it is not a fun dream at all.

“Paint by the numbers” is a metaphor to doing things following rules to the extremes. Taylor and this guy wasn’t like that. But they made it work for some time. This could possibly hint that they were not taking this relationship within the boundaries of what a relationship should be. Maybe Taylor is hinting at one of them cheating on another?


Taylor Swift stutters even the thought process of asking him if things would have been different if not for “one thing.” A “one thing” that ends up destroying a great love story should fall close within the realms of cheating. But the fact that Taylor Swift stammers these thoughts makes us wonder if Taylor was the one who cheated on her boyfriend!

Let us know what you think about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics and further meaning breakdown on Genius.

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