Taylor Swift really did put on her songwriting pants for this song from the ‘Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)’ album. “Timeless” speaks of the tale of a wife of a military man from a long time ago. They could have been a homerun–a timeless hit in different circumstances. In reality, not so much!
‘Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)’ was released on July 7, 2023, as part of Taylor Swift’s ongoing re-releases of her original albums following a dispute with her first label Big Machine Records. She has, so far, released ‘Red’ and ‘Fearless’ albums fully re-recorded giving her the rights to own her own masters. The new release includes six new songs that originally did not make it to the album.
The central theme around “Timeless” is the hardships of being a wife of a soldier man. Soldiers, especially in the past, would go off to wars in different countries and would not return home for months or years or at all at times. In days when communication wasn’t as advanced as today, the lonely wife would never know if her husband would return the same way they left home. In this song, misfortune strikes the military wife and her ‘timeless’ plans with the one she truly loved.
The lyric video for “Timeless” shows Taylor Swift’s grandparents, Marjorie and Robert Finlay on her mom’s side, and Rose and Archie Dean Swift. The latter actually lived this story, fighting the Battle of Guadalcanal (1942-1943) during World War II. Taylor Swift had paid homage to him in a previous song “epiphany” from ‘folklore’ album as well.
Listen to “Timeless” by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift “Timeless” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
At the beginning of the song, Taylor Swift walks aimlessly down the street she lives in. She had walked past this small antique shop a thousand times before, but today, something said ‘stop’ so she walked in. Amongst other timeless artifacts frozen in time, Taylor finds a box of photos from strangers a long time before her. She finds a picture of a 1930s bride and two lovers laughing in front of their first home. A sudden flash of memories disconnects her from reality just then. The couple in the photo makes way to Taylor and her lover from a few years back.
On a crowded street in 1944
And you werе headed off to fight in the war
These dates refer to the Second World War (1939-1945) when Taylor Swift was married to her lover who happens to be a military man. In 1944 they bid farewell for one last time, as the war was drawing closer to an end. But little did they know it would be their last farewell as well. Had fate not been so cruel, they would have been timeless–they would have what everyone else in the world wanted in love.
This is not just an isolated incident. An estimated 3-4 million widows were left behind after the First World War. We can only imagine the Second World War had similar or worse statistics.
Taylor runs her hands across another picture of a young couple on their way to their first dance in school. Another flood of memories drowns her. She realizes that she has lived the lives of these strangers she sees in the pictures.
Over to the next shelf, Taylor finds a book covered in dust. Brushing off the dust, she realizes that this is the book of love–Romeo & Juliet. She is very familiar with the story here–two people in love but destined not to be together. If it isn’t her story written all over this antique shop today!
In the fifteen hundreds off in a foreign land
And I was forced to marry another man
These lyrics are a possible reference to the phenomenon known as ‘war brides,’ where widows were often forced into other marriages. Taylor Swift had moved to a different country to be with his military lover who never returned after 1944. So, she was married away to another man a few years later. This is not the story she wanted to write for herself.
She wanted to have her own box of photos of the two of them that narrated an epic love story–a love story better than ‘Romeo & Juliet’ because Taylor and her lover would grow old together in undying love. But, the book won. Taylor’s story was to be forgotten in time. It was not timeless.
But this song will be…
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Read the complete lyrics to the song on Genius.