Here at TBB we’re thinking about town politics all the time, even when we’re listening to Midnights for the millionth time while contemplating the latest batshit NextDoor thread. And we can’t ? shake it off ? – we’re fairly certain Taylor is singing, over and over again, about what’s happening right here in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
Take, for instance, Treacherous.
? This slope is treacherous
This path is reckless
This slope is treacherous
And I, I, I like it ?
You say this song is about Jake Gyllenhaal, we say it’s Swift’s ode to the Bolin Creek Trail in Carrboro.
Or think about what she’s really saying on Tolerate It:
? I wait by the door like I’m just a kid
Use my best colors for your portrait
Lay the table with the fancy shit
And watch you tolerate it ?
We’ve listened to enough Community Design Commission meetings to know what that one’s about.
Back to Midnights (3am Edition)
? What if I told you I’m a mastermind?
And now you’re mine
It was all by design
‘Cause I’m a mastermind ?
You know the 17 different “friends of” organizations you signed up for? We used AI software to generate lyrics based on the content of their websites and emails – turns out it’s just one person behind all of them! (Related: It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.)
Or the ongoing squabble about the American Legion land, and what it should be called – and what should go on it:
? They’ll tell you I’m insane
But I’ve got a blank space, baby
And I’ll write your name ?
— Caroline Dwyer, AICP (@plan_splaining) October 22, 2022
Then again, sometimes Taylor goes deep — into the not-too-distant past:
? We are never, ever, ever getting back together
We are never, ever, ever getting back together
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me
But we are never, ever, ever, ever getting back together
Like, ever ?
“There are definitely moments when it’s like this cloud of an idea comes and just lands in front of your face, and you reach up and grab it,” Taylor told Harper’s Bazaar. And we’re pretty sure that the idea for Never Ever Getting Back Together came from following the Durham-Orange Light Rail project, may it rest in peace.
Speaking of “mystical, magical moments, inexplicable moments when an idea that is fully formed just pops into your head,” Death by a Thousand Cuts is likely about the Chapel Hill development review process and we know that Taylor wrote this one after reading the town inbox:
? And I ain’t trying to mess with your self-expression
But I’ve learned the lesson that stressin’
And obsessin’ ’bout somebody else is no fun
And snakes and stones never broke my bones so
So, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh
You need to calm down
You’re being too loud
And I’m just like oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh (oh)
You need to just stop
Like, can you just not step on my gown?
You need to calm down ?
TayTay was definitely referencing the feelings of local developers after presenting their development to Town Council for a Conditional Zoning review:
? And maybe we got lost in translation
Maybe I asked for too much
But maybe this thing was a masterpiece ’til you tore it all up
Running scared, I was there
I remember it all too well ?
And we heard through a friend of a friend of a friend of an alliance of neighbors that Taylor wrote this after contemplating a very late council meeting:
? I stay out too late
Got nothin’ in my brain
That’s what people say, mmm-mmm
That’s what people say, mmm-mmm ?
And though Chapel Hill doesn’t have a “Cornelia Street” or any properties owned by “heirs to the Standard Oil name,” Taylor could probably find a Folklore/Evermore-worthy cottage in the historic district that would suit her (though good luck making any changes!)