Taylor Swift – White Horse | Lyrics Meaning & Song Review
Taylor Swift is re-releasing her old catalog of albums due to the ongoing legal battle with her former label Big Machine Records. And the first release is going to be her second studio album ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ in April 2021. In commemoration of this event, we take a look at one of the classic Taylor Swift tracks, “White Horse.”
“White Horse” was released as the second single off of her 2008 album ‘Fearless’ on December 7, 2008. ‘Fearless’ album is responsible for some of the most iconic Taylor Swift tracks such as “Love Story,” “You Belong With Me,” and the title track “Fearless.” And the album also won Taylor Swift the ‘Album of the Year’ award at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
“White Horse” itself earned Taylor Swift two more Grammy awards in 2010 for ‘Best Country Song’ and ‘Best Female Country Vocal Performance.’ The song reached #2 on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, #13 on Billboard Hot 100 chart, and #5 in Canada. The song has sold over 2 million copies in the US as of 2014.
Talking in an interview with Billboard magazine, Taylor Swift gave her inspiration behind the song; “It’s one of the songs that I am really proud of on the record because it’s so sparse – it’s guitar, piano and cello. It talks about falling in love and the fairy tales that you are going to have with this person, and then there is that moment where you realize that it is not going to happen. That moment is the most earth shattering moment.”
The title of the song, ‘white horse,’ is a theme borrowed from the fairytales of kings and queens and princes and princesses where the prince charming comes riding on a white horse to sweep away the princess. Speaking with CMT, Taylor Swift explained; “I am completely fascinated by the differences and comparisons between real life and fairy tales because we’re raised as little girls to think that we’re a princess and that Prince Charming is going to sweep us off our feet. And that we’re going to ride off into the sunset on a white horse. We’re not really expecting to get blown off or ignored or broken up with or cheated on. I think it’s really interesting when you come to terms with that reality: ‘Maybe that’s not gonna happen with this guy because this guy’s a jerk.’ But there’s still that core of us that believes that it’s true and that if you find the right person, you can have that love story and it can work out. So there are different examples of fairy tales, and sometimes I believe in them and sometimes I don’t. And moments on the record like in “White Horse,” it’s a song about, ‘Wow, this is not a fairy tale, is it? Awesome. Great.’ It’s (about how) I’m coming to this realization that this is not a fairy tale at all — this is real life.”
Watch “White Horse” Music Video by Taylor Swift
Buy ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ Album on Apple Music & Amazon
“White Horse” Song Meaning and Lyrics Review
From the first verse itself, we come to realize that Taylor Swift is having problems in her relationship. Breaking up and moving on is one thing. But to keep on doing mistakes and apologizing and Taylor forgiving him and this goes on repeat. Taylor Swift says she cannot look beyond his ‘face of an angel’ when he apologizes and begs for her love.
And these painful days continue. Taylor only blames herself; “Stupid girl, I shoulda known.”
And the reality crashes in the chorus of the song. Taylor Swift realizes that real life can be the furthest thing from a happy-ending fairytale. But to call herself “not a princess” is heartbreaking because no one should feel that way. Taylor was expecting her partner to sweep her off her feet and climb her up the stairway up the castle for the matrimonial ceremony. But those castle walls came down crashing on her when the guy started acting like a jerk.
Taylor Swift compares her little hometown of Hendersonville, Tennessee to the Hollywood movies. She tells herself that fairytale endings only happen in Hollywood movies and not in little small towns.
All these big dreams Taylor Swift has for herself were crushed to the ground by possibly one or more guys IRL. Swift is giving up on her dream. She knows that no white horse is going to come for her, and it is definitely not this guy who crushed her dreams.
In the second verse of “White Horse,” Taylor Swift realizes that she might have been naive of her expectations of love in real life. She tells us that she got in the looks for this guy in her own innocent way. She did not adore his muscular build or jawline. She got lost in his eyes. Eyes are knowns to be the doorway to a person’s soul. But most times, nothing is as they seem.
My mistake, I didn’t know to be in love
You had to fight to have the upper hand
These lyrics tell us something that all of us that are in love should be aware of. No person has to ‘fight’ for the other person’s love. Love is something that should flow freely between the two people, with no conditions attached.
Watch Taylor Swift Perform “White Horse” Live on American Music Awards 2008
Bridges have been something of a forte of Taylor Swift. In these lyrics, too, Taylor Swift cleverly merges in two very contrasting situations together. In reality, we find this guy kneeling in front of Taylor Swift begging for her forgiveness for whatever he has done. Taylor Swift adds “Just like I always wanted,” but why would she have wanted an apology. She is most likely talking about how she imagined his proposal; kneeling down and extending an engagement ring to her. But, alas!
However, Taylor Swift is so done with his apologies. She is so far out of reach of any white horse this guy could ride to catch her.
There is something raw and unfiltered about Taylor Swift’s country music era that we all fell in love with her over a decade ago.
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.