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Vulture’s Exclusive Track-by-Track Preview of the New Taylor Swift Album

Here’s Taylor Swift describing the writing process behind her highly anticipated third album, Speak Now: “In the past two years, I've experienced a lot of things that I've been dying to write about. A lot of things I wanted to say in the moment that I didn't … Each song is a different confession to a person.” Of course this is nothing new for Swift, who’s always proudly based her lyrics directly on real-life experiences. What’s changed, however, is that in the two years since the release of her blockbuster Fearless, the wunderkind’s public profile has been dramatically elevated. Meaning that with less than a month to go before its release, Vulture was able to — with the help of a few back issues of Life & Style, some choice Twitpics, and one or two extremely reliable independent sources on the inside — cobble together a preview of what specific personal experiences Taylor will be singing about on Speak Now. Let’s go.

1. "Mine"
Anyone with functioning ears has already heard Speak Now’s lead single, which was accompanied by a video showing the singer ending up happily married with children. Apparently, this was inspired by a particularly vivid dream Swift had where she wed John Stamos and they lived in the attic, like in Full House.

2. "Sparks Fly"
A re-creation of the first night Swift met memorable 2009 fling Taylor Lautner. They stayed up all night staring at the stars and trading off favorite famous Taylors. Swift’s was Foo Fighter’s drummer Taylor Hawkins. Lautner’s was former Michigan Wolverine Maurice Taylor, which technically didn’t fit the format, although Swift let it slide.

3. "Back to December"
After shooting this famed CMT Awards clip, Taylor somehow stumbled into a conversation about Hanukkah with T-Pain, who was surprisingly well-versed on the history of the Jewish festival of lights. In honor of the brave Maccabees (and the Auto-Tune king), Taylor penned this song.

4. "Speak Now"
Inspired by the time Swift’s assistant called her to tell her she had officially beaten Susan Boyle for the 2009 album sales crown. “Hey, Susan Boyle, how many albums did you sell this year? Huh? What’s that? Yeah, say something! Speak now!” Etc.

5. "Dear John"
Swift met Channing Tatum backstage at the Kids' Choice Awards, and he was such a sweetheart — reportedly graciously ceding control of the last muffin on the green room snack table, which they had both reached for at the same time — that she wrote this song for him. The song’s working title? "Step Up 2 … The Streets."

6. "Mean"
Inspired by the first sign of trouble in Swift’s relationship with Lautner, which came roughly three weeks into the union, when the famous werewolf carelessly admitted he had never heard Swift’s 2006 song “Tim McGraw.” Seriously, bro? It was only her debut single!

7. "The Story of Us"
A meditation on the days when Bruce Willis still had hair, spurred by this one night Taylor and pal Selena Gomez streamed most of late nineties Willis–Michelle Pfeiffer rom-com The Story of Us on Netflix Watch Instantly before the Internet connection on Swift’s tour bus crapped out.

8. "Never Grow Up"
The moment, a month and a half into the relationship, when Swift found out Lautner was only 17 while reading his Wikipedia page. Awkward.

9. "Enchanted"
Taylor was so excited when she heard Pavement were reuniting, she immediately sat down and wrote this song, an oblique reference to the band’s debut album.

10. "Better Than Revenge"
Album of the Year Grammy, haters.

11. "Innocent"
About Kanye, yes, but also secretly about Taylor’s Uncle Larry, who is 32 and still spends most of his time racing slot cars in the basement of a house Taylor pays the mortgage on. Thirty-two and still growing up now, Larry!

12. "Haunted"
This is about that time Daniel Craig photobombed Taylor. The image of his swarthy mustache, lurking in the shadows, invaded her dreams for months.

13. "Last Kiss"
The very last time Lautner and Swift ever locked lips, as the burning embers of their fiery, three-month romance tragically faded. It was outside an Olive Garden, and he tasted like Toscana soup and Caesar salad.

14. "Long Live"
… the Valentine’s Day franchise! Woo!!!


Taylor Swift Reveals Track Listing for 'Speak Now'
[Boot]
Previously: Vulture's Exclusive Track-by-Track Preview of the New Coldplay Album

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images