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Love Story

Lead Single | Fearless (2008) | Fearless (Taylor's Version) [2021]

“Love Story” is the lead single of Taylor’s second studio album, Fearless (2008), and is one of her biggest hits. Taylor was inspired to write the song when she was going through a difficult situation with a boy she liked, whom she wasn’t “officially” dating. The re-recording of the song, “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)”, was released on February 12, 2021, as the lead single off of Fearless (Taylor’s Version).

Background and Lyrical Theme

“Love Story” came along late into the production of Fearless. Like most of Taylor’s songs, it is in part based on a real experience. It was written about a love interest of her’s who was not popular among her family and friends. She wrote the first draft of the song in approximately twenty minutes on her bedroom floor after she had an argument over this boy with her parents, feeling too inspired to put the song down unfinished. Because of the scenario, Taylor related to the plot of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1597) and used it as a source of inspiration to compose the song. The lyrics are from the perspective of Juliet. However, Taylor replaced Romeo and Juliet’s original tragic conclusion with a happy ending. She said:

«I used to be in high school where you see [a boyfriend] every day. Then I was in a situation where it wasn’t easy for me, and I wrote this song because I could relate to the whole Romeo and Juliet thing. I was really inspired by that story. Except for the ending. I feel like they had such promise and they were so crazy for each other. And if that had just gone a little bit differently, it could have been the best love story ever told. And it is one of the best love stories ever told, but it’s a tragedy. I thought, why can’t you…make it a happy ending, and put a key change in the song, and turn it into a marriage proposal?»

Taylor Swift
“Love Story” was recorded in March 2008 at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. Taylor said that, at first, the song was met with indifference from her record company and her parents. But she fought for it, which she says was a fun experience because she had something to prove. At a surprise gig in 2018, at the famous Bluebird Café in Nashville (where she was discovered), Taylor revealed that she was supposed to work on the song with country writer Craig Wiseman. The two had a writing session when Taylor was seventeen, and Wiseman wasn’t interested in her ideas for the track. They wrote a different song that day, but Taylor went home and finished the song. It eventually became one of the biggest country hits of all time. At the gig, Taylor joked: “I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea. I thought there was something to it. I really liked it.”

Music Video

The accompanying music video for “Love Story” was directed by Trey Fanjoy, who had directed the music videos for the singles from Taylor Swift (2006). Taylor collaborated with Fanjoy again because she had been able to balance both of their ideas. For “Love Story”, Taylor conceived the video as a period piece drawing influences from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Regency eras, aiming for a timeless narrative that “could happen in the 1700s, 1800s, or 2008”. For the male lead, with six months in advance, she searched by watching films for actors to interpret the role. An acquaintance of hers, who followed the sixth season of Nashville Star, recommended contestant Justin Gaston. After Gaston was eliminated from the show, Taylor contacted him to film the video. She believed Gaston was a perfect choice for the male lead, “I was so impressed by the way his [expressions] were in the video. Without even saying anything, he would just do a certain glance and it really came across well.”

The crew considered traveling to Europe to find a castle for the video’s setting, but settled on Castle Gwynn in Arrington, Tennessee instead; Castle Gwynn was built in 1973 and is part of the annual Tennessee Renaissance Festival. Wardrobe for the video was supplied by Jacquard Fabrics, excluding Taylor’s dress for the balcony scene, which was designed by Sandi Spika with inspiration and suggestions from Taylor herself. The video was filmed in two days in August 2008 in Tennessee.

Live Performances

Taylor performed “Love Story” many times during the promotional run for Fearless, as well as on all venues of her first headlining concert tour, the “Fearless Tour,” which extended from April 2009 to June 2010. The performances begun with backup dancers, dressed in Victorian era clothing, dancing ballroom to Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel’s Canon, as a castle backdrop was projected onto the stage. Taylor was donning a crimson, 18th century gown with a golden accents. For the song’s last refrain, she hid behind backup dancers as she changed her wardrobe to a white wedding dress.

“Love Story” also served as the final performance on the setlist of Taylor’s second concert tour, the “Speak Now World Tour” (2011-2012); the performances featured Taylor floating over the crowd, wearing a gold princess gown. She again performed the song on “The RED Tour” (2013-2014), stating she would never stop playing the song live:

«I like when I go to a concert and the artist respects what the people’s favorite songs are. I’m going to be playing 'Love Story' for the rest of my career because the fans really like it. If I ever get sick of it, I would continue to play it at my shows. You have to, as an artist, remember your experiences as a fan. And as a fan you heard the song in your bedroom, you played it over and over again, you know where the fiddle part is, you know where the banjo part is and you like the way it is sung on the record.»

Taylor Swift
After her genre switch to pop in 2014, Taylor performed a new synth pop rendition of “Love Story” during the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival. She performed this version of the song every night on her “The 1989 World Tour” (2015). The original version of the song was performed on Taylor’s fifth headlining tour, the “reputation Stadium Tour” (2018), as part of a medley alongside “Style” and “You Belong With Me“.

On April 23, 2019, she performed a piano rendition of the song at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts during the Time 100 Gala, where she was honored. On November 24, she performed the song as part of a medley at the 2019 American Music Awards in Los Angeles where she was honored with the “Artist of the Decade” award.

Critical Reception

In Fearless album reviews, Rob Sheffield from Blender and Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic selected “Love Story” as a standout. Deborah Evans Price of Billboard applauded the single for its “swirling, dreamy” production and emotional engagement that appealed to a broad audience. Writing for The Boston Globe, James Reed highlighted “Love Story” as an example of Taylor’s charm in her songwriting: “She knows how to write a hit.” In USA Today, Elysa Gardner highlighted “Love Story” as an example of Taylor’s songwriting talents at such a young age: “It’s a pleasure to hear a gifted teenager who sounds like a gifted teenager, rather than a mouthpiece for a bunch of older pros’ collective notion of adolescent yearning.”

“Love Story” featured on 2008 year-end lists by Blender at No. 73 and The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop critics’ poll at No. 48. Taste of Country listed the song at No. 17 on its 2016 list of “Greatest Country Songs of All Time.” In retrospective reviews, Hannah Mylrea from NME and Nate Jones from New York considered “Love Story” one of Taylor’s strongest songs in her entire discography.

Commercial Performance

“Love Story” was released as the lead single of Fearless. It peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs, and at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, just weeks after its release. The song is one of the best-selling singles worldwide and has sold more than 10 million copies in the US, making it eligible for a diamond certification from the RIAA. It is Taylor’s highest-selling single in the nation.

Worldwide, “Love Story” was the sixth-best-selling single of 2009, selling 6.5 million copies throughout the year. By February 2021, estimated worldwide sales of “Love Story” stood at 18 million.

Accolades

In 2009, “Love Story” was declared the “Country Song of the Year” by Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI). At the 2009 CMT Music Awards, the music video won the awards for “Video of the Year” and “Female Video of the Year”. It also won the award for “Music Video of the Year” at the 43rd Country Music Association Awards. The video won “Favorite International Video” at the Philippine Myx Music Awards in 2010.

Taylor's Version

On February 12, 2021, “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” became the first official re-release from Taylor’s backcatalog following contractual disputes with music manager Scooter Braun. It marked the beginning of a new chapter in her career as she sought autonomy and freedom from a manipulative business relationship. When announcing the album, Taylor wrote:

«This process has been more fulfilling and emotional that I could have imagined and has made me even more determined to re-record all my music. I hope you’ll like this first outing as much as I liked travelling back in time to recreate it. ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’ will be out tonight.»

Taylor Swift
Upon release, “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” was universally acclaimed by music critics, who highlighted Taylor’s mature vocals, the enhanced instrumentation and mixing, while remaining fathful to the original recording’s emotion. It reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, a huge achievement for a 13-year old song.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
We were both young when I first saw you
I close my eyes and the flashback starts
I’m standing there, on a balcony in summer air
See the lights; see the party, the ball gowns
See you make your way through the crowd
And say hello, little did I know

[Pre-chorus 1]
That you were Romeo, you were throwing pebbles
And my daddy said, “Stay away from Juliet”
And I was crying on the staircase
Begging you, “Please don’t go”
And I said

[Chorus 1]
“Romeo take me somewhere we can be alone
I’ll be waiting
All that’s left to do is run
You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess
It’s a love story, baby, just say, ‘Yes'”

[Verse 2]
So I sneak out to the garden to see you
We keep quiet, ’cause we’re dead if they knew
So close your eyes
Escape this town for a little while

[Pre-chorus 2]
Oh, Oh
Cause you were Romeo, I was a scarlet letter
And my daddy said “Stay away from Juliet”
But you were everything to me
I was begging you, “Please don’t go”
And I said

[Chorus 2]
“Romeo take me somewhere we can be alone
I’ll be waiting; all there’s left to do is run
You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess
It’s a love story, baby, just say ‘Yes'”

“Romeo, save me, they’re trying to tell me how to feel
This love is difficult, but it’s real
Don’t be afraid, we’ll make it out of this mess
It’s a love story, baby, just say ‘Yes'”

[Bridge]
Oh, oh
I got tired of waiting
Wondering if you were ever coming around
My faith in you was fading
When I met you on the outskirts of town
And I said

“Romeo save me, I’ve been feeling so alone
I keep waiting for you but you never come
Is this in my head, I don’t know what to think”
He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring and said

[Chorus 3]
“Marry me, Juliet, you’ll never have to be alone
I love you, and that’s all I really know
I talked to your dad, go pick out a white dress
It’s a love story, baby, just say… ‘Yes'”

[Outro]
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
‘Cause we were both young when I first saw you

General Information
AlbumsFearless
Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
ReleasedSeptember 16, 2008
Re-ReleasedFebruary 12, 2021
WrittenFebruary-March, 2008
StudiosBlackbird (Nashville)
Conway (Los Angeles)
Studio 13 (Nashville)
Prime Recording (Nashville)
GenreCountry Pop
Length3:56
LabelsBig Machine Records
Republic Records
SongwriterTaylor Swift
ProducersNathan Chapman (original)
Christopher Rowe
Taylor Swift
FEARLESS CHRONOLOGY
FifteenLove StoryHey Stephen
Single Certification
Hidden Message
Someday I’ll find this
Single Artwork
Music Video
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Taylor's Version
Original Audio
Elvira Remix