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Breathe

Feat. Colbie Caillat | Promotional Single | Fearless (2008) | Fearless (Taylor's Version) [2021]

“Breathe” is a song on Taylor’s second studio album, Fearless (2008). It was written about the end of a friendship. Colbie Caillat provides background vocals. The re-recording of the song, “Breathe (Taylor’s Version)”, was released on April 9, 2021 on the album Fearless (Taylor’s Version).

Background and Release

Taylor was very fond of Colbie Caillat’s 2007 debut album, Coco. She explained, “When it came out, I fell in love with the way that she makes music.” She then contacted Colbie’s management and asked if she could write a song with her. They confirmed Caillat would be available due to a then upcoming concert in Nashville and, coincidentally, on the same day Taylor had a vacation day. Taylor said:

«It was total therapy because I came in and I was like, 'Look, one of my best friends, I'm gonna have to not see anymore and is not gonna be part of what I do. It's the hardest thing to go through. It's crazy listening to the song because you would think it's about a relationship, and it's really about losing a friend, and having a fallout.»

Taylor Swift
“Breathe” was released as a Rhapsody-exclusive on October 21, 2008.

Lyrical Theme

“Breathe” was written by Taylor and Colbie Caillat. The lyrics are about heartbreak and the loss of a person Taylor spent much time with. In the song’s verses, she acknowledges that people change and grow apart, though she is upset because she knows the person “like the back of her hand.” In the song’s chorus, Taylor realizes the need to remain strong and breathe in order to live without the person. Taylor explained to That’s Country:

«'Breathe' is a song about having to say goodbye to somebody, but it never blames anybody. Sometimes that’s the most difficult part. When it’s nobody’s fault.»

Taylor Swift
It is assumed that the best friend Taylor mentioned in the interview is Emily Poe — she was a fiddle player in Taylor’s band but left when she started law school. Aside from the real life inspiration, Colbie and Taylor think one of the beauties of “Breathe” is that many people are able to relate to it because it is never specifically mentioned why the departure occured or whose fault it was. Taylor wanted for Colbie to sing background vocals but in a loud manner, enough for audiences to recognize who sang backup. Taylor was very pleased with the finished product: “I think she sounds beautiful on it. I’m so excited to have her voice on my album.” Colbie also talked about how they collaborated:

«I went to Nashville about a year and a half ago and she wanted to write with me. I flew there and she had this beautiful song started. It’s about having to let someone go and say goodbye to a really good friend. And we became friends after that. She is so sweet, so beautiful, so talented, and honestly just a really intelligent young woman. She knows what she is doing and she knows how to handle her career and take charge. I love her.»

Colbie Caillat

Live Performance

Taylor performed “Breathe” live for the first time ever in Miami Gardens, Florida for the “reputation Stadium Tour” in 2018.

Critical Reception

“Breathe” was released on October 21, 2008, as a promotional single from Fearless, exclusively through Rhapsody. The song received favorable responses from contemporary music critics and was nominated for the Grammy award for “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals”, but lost to Jason Mraz and Colbie  Caillat’s “Lucky”.”Breathe” peaked at number eighty-seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Taylor performed the song live for the first time ten years after its release, as a surprise song in Miami on the “reputation Stadium Tour” in 2018.

Commercial Performance

On the week ending November 29, 2008, “Breathe” debuted and peaked at No. 87 on the Billboard Hot 100, spending one week on the chart. Its appearance, along with six other songs, on the chart tied Taylor with Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) for the female act to have the most songs charting on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same week, a record later surpassed multiple times by Taylor herself, the first being when she charted eleven songs at once in 2010. It was also one of six songs to debut that tied her with Cyrus, again, for the most debuts on the chart in the same week. In 2014, the song was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

“Breathe (Taylor’s Version)” debuted at No. 34 on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart on the week ending April 15, 2021.

Taylor's Version

The re-recorded version of “Breathe” is part of Fearless (Taylor’s Version) which was released on April 9, 2021. Colbie Caillat was welcomed back to the project with open arms. She told Insider after the album’s release: “It wasn’t too long ago. I was honored that she asked me to be a part of it again. It was an instant yes, of course. She knows a lot about every person she’s in the room with and genuinely has an interest. She makes you feel like she loves your work and she has known you forever. I just remember she was so young, and the song she came in with, it was just beautiful. I had so much respect for her. I think the song that we did, it was a really special thing. She was writing about something she was going through with a band member at the time, and she was pouring her heart out about it.” Taylor told iHeartRadio:

«The song ‘Breathe’ is a song about having to let go of someone in your life who you care about, and you don’t want to hurt, but you’ve outgrown the friendship or the relationship. And I wrote the idea for it, and Colbie Caillat was in town who’s just one of my favorite artists, I absolutely love her music and I love her voice. I brought her this idea and she really liked it, and we wrote it together. And she sang backup vocals on it that are just so haunting. I’m so lucky because she agreed to do the same backup vocals on my version of ‘Breathe.’ So, it absolutely would not have been the same without her. I’m really, really grateful that she decided to return to the project.»

Taylor Swift
Colbie Caillat said she got to work that day, recreating her decade-old vocals at a studio in Nashville, “It completely flashed me right back to when I was recording here in Nashville, 13, 14 years ago with Taylor and [producer] Nathan Chapman in the studio. Taylor’s parents were there too. And it was just such a fun day, such great people. It was so warm and welcoming and it took me right back to that time — which was a lifetime ago, like, we were babies then. It was fun to feel those emotions again.”

Lyrics

[Verse 1: Taylor Swift]
I see your face in my mind as I drive away
‘Cause none of us thought it was gonna end that way
People are people and sometimes we change our minds
But it’s killing me to see you go after all this time

[Break: Taylor Swift]
Mm-mm, mm-mm-mm-mm
Mm-mm, mm-mm-mm-mm

[Verse 2: Taylor Swift with Colbie Caillat]
The music starts playing like the end of a sad movie
It’s the kind of ending you don’t really wanna see
‘Cause it’s tragedy and it’ll only bring you down
Now I don’t know what to be without you around

[Pre-Chorus: Taylor Swift with Colbie Caillat]
And we know it’s never simple, never easy
Never a clean break, no one here to save me
You’re the only thing I know like the back of my hand

[Chorus: Taylor Swift with Colbie Caillat]
And I can’t breathe without you, but I have to
Breathe without you, but I have to

[Verse 3: Taylor Swift with Colbie Caillat]
Never wanted this, never wanna see you hurt
Every little bump in the road, I tried to swerve
But people are people and sometimes it doesn’t work out
And nothin’ we say is gonna save us from the fallout

[Pre-Chorus: Taylor Swift with Colbie Caillat]
And we know it’s never simple, never easy
Never a clean break, no one here to save me
You’re the only thing I know like the back of my hand

[Chorus: Taylor Swift with Colbie Caillat]
And I can’t breathe without you, but I have to
Breathe without you but I have to

[Bridge: Taylor Swift with Colbie Caillat]
It’s 2 A.M., feeling like I just lost a friend
Hope you know it’s not easy, easy for me
It’s 2 A.M., feeling like I just lost a friend
Hope you know this ain’t easy, easy for me

[Pre-Chorus: Taylor Swift with Colbie Caillat]
And we know it’s never simple, never easy
Never a clean break, no one here to save me, oh

[Final Chorus: Taylor Swift with Colbie Caillat]
I can’t breathe without you, but I have to
Breathe without you, but I have to
Breathe without you, but I have to
Breathe without you, but I have to

[Outro: Taylor Swift & Colbie Caillat]
I’m sorry, I’m sorry (Mmm)
I’m sorry, (Yeah, yeah) I’m sorry
I’m sorry, I’m sorry (Ooh, ooh)
I’m sorry

General Information
AlbumsFearless
Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
FeatureColbie Caillat
ReleasedOctober 21, 2008
Re-ReleasedApril 9, 2021
GenreCountry Pop
Length4:21
LabelsBig Machine Records
Republic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Colbie Caillat
ProducersNathan Chapman (original)
Christopher Rowe
Taylor Swift
FEARLESS CHRONOLOGY
You Belong With MeBreatheTell Me Why
Single Certification
Hidden Message
I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry
Song Artwork
The Making of "Breathe"
Lyric Video
Taylor's Version
Original Audio