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State of Grace

Promotional Single | RED (2012) | RED (Taylor's Version) [2021]

“State of Grace” is the opener for Taylor’s fourth studio album, RED (2012). It is a big-time, grown-up rock anthem and feels like something of a game-changer for Taylor. The re-recording of the song, “State of Grace (Taylor’s Version)”, was released on November 12, 2021 on the album RED (Taylor’s Version). According to her, the song serves as both the introduction and the conclusion of this album.
According to Taylor, “State of Grace” serves as both the introduction and the conclusion of RED. As the first track on the album, it serves as a warning for what love can be – both amazing and devastating. Essentially it can go both ways, depending on how one goes about it.

Background and Release

Taylor released her third studio album, Speak Now, in October 2010. She wrote the album entirely by herself and co-produced it with Nathan Chapman, her longtime collaborator. The album musically expands on the country pop sound of her two previous albums, with elements of radio-friendly pop crossover that had been evident on its predecessor Fearless (2008). On Speak Now‘s follow-up, RED, Taylor aimed to experiment beyond her previous albums’ formulaic country pop sound. “State of Grace” was one of the first songs that Taylor wrote at her career base of Nashville, Tennessee, before she headed to Los Angeles to approach new producers. She co-produced the song and eight other RED tracks with Chapman.

To promote RED, Taylor released one album track each week onto the iTunes Store, from September 24 until the album’s release date of October 22, 2012, as part of a four-week release countdown. “State of Grace” was released as the final promotional single from RED during the final countdown week, on October 16, 2012.

Lyrical Theme

“State of Grace” is the opening track of RED. It is an arena rock song with an anthemic production backed by chiming guitars and dynamic drums. Lyrically consistent with Taylor’s romantic themes, “State of Grace” is about the tumultuous feelings evoked from the first sights of love. During the preview of the song on Good Morning America, she described the song as such:

«I wrote this song about when you first fall in love with someone. The possibilities, kind of thinking about the different ways that it could go. It’s a really big sound. To me, this sounds like the feeling of falling in love in an epic way.»

Taylor Swift
Throughout the song, Taylor is detailing the beginning of a love with all it’s possibilities, as there is an utterly romantic sentiment and charm about the uncertainty and expectations that come along with any new beginning. When she was asked about the most meaningful song on this album, she answered:

«I think that in order to pick one that to me would define the rest of the record, lyrically, it would probably be the song 'State of Grace' because it has a line in the song that says, 'Love is a ruthless game unless you play it good and right.' And that sets the tone for the entire rest of the record — that one lyric.»

Taylor Swift

Acoustic Version

“State of Grace (Acoustic Version)” was released on the deluxe edition of RED. It features a slower tempo along with some percussion, bass and guitar.

Live Performances

Taylor performed “State of Grace” live for the first time on November 15, 2012, during the second season of the U.S. version of “The X Factor.” She later performed the song at “Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden” on December 7, 2012. The song was the opening number on the set list of “The RED Tour” (2013–14), which Taylor embarked to promote the album. She also performed the song during the July 10, 2018 concert at Landover, Maryland, as part of her “reputation Stadium Tour.”

Critical Reception

Upon its release, “State of Grace” received positive reviews from contemporary critics. Spin‘s Marc Hogan lauded the production as “brutally effective”, and August Brown from the Los Angeles Times thought the track was RED‘s most arresting and promising song. Adam Graham of The Detroit News complimented Taylor’s songwriting for creating “moments of intimacy within the booming sonics”, which showcased a new aspect of her artistry. Jason Lipshutz of Billboard similarly commented on the song’s “sweeping emotion” and labelled it Taylor’s bold experimentation with arena rock.

Retrospective reviews of “State of Grace” have been generally positive. Jordan Sargent of Spin described its production as a “thematically perfect musical composition, unhurried as if to marinate on the moment but also fleetingly epic”. The staff of Billboard included the track in their 2017 list of the “100 Best Deep Cuts by 21st Century Pop Stars”, describing the built-up arena rock production as “a wallop quite unlike anything in Swift’s catalog”. Hannah Mylrea of NME and Jane Song of Paste included the song among the 10 best songs in Taylor’s catalog, both lauding the arena rock sound that Taylor since has not recreated.

Commercial Performance

“State of Grace” charted on the record charts of the English-speaking countries, peaking within the top 50 in Australia (44), Ireland (43), the U.K. (36), and New Zealand (20). The song reached the top 10 on the Canadian Hot 100, peaking at No. 9. In the U.S., it peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and received a gold certification from the RIAA, which denotes 500,000 track-equivalent units based on sales and on-demand streaming.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
I’m walking fast through the traffic lights
Busy streets and busy lives
And all we know
Is touch and go

We are alone with our changing minds
We fall in love ’til it hurts or bleeds or fades in time

[Chorus]
And I never (never)
Saw you coming
And I’ll never (never)
Be the same

[Verse 2]
You come around and the armor falls
Pierce the room like a cannonball
Now all we know
Is don’t let go

We are alone, just you and me
Up in your room and our slates are clean
Just twin fire signs
Four blue eyes

So you were never a saint
And I’ve loved in shades of wrong
We learn to live with the pain
Mosaic broken hearts
But this love is brave and wild

[Chorus]
And I never (never)
Saw you coming
And I’ll never (never)
Be the same

[Bridge]
This is a state of grace
This is the worthwhile fight
Love is a ruthless game
Unless you play it good and right

These are the hands of fate
You’re my Achilles heel
This is the golden age of something good and right and real

[Chorus]
And I never (never)
Sw you coming
And I’ll never (never)
Be the same

And I never (never)
Saw you coming
And I’ll never
(So you were never a saint, I’ve loved in shades of wrong)
Be the same
(We learn to live with the pain, mosaic broken hearts, but this love is brave and wild)

[Outro]
This is a state of grace
This is the worthwhile fight
Love is a ruthless game
Unless you play it good and right

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General Information
AlbumsRED
RED (Taylor’s Version)
ReleasedOctober 16, 2012
Re-ReleasedNovember 12, 2021
StudioBlackbird (Nashville)
GenreAlternative Rock
Length4:55 (Standard Version)
5:21 (Acoustic Version)
LabelsBig Machine Records
Republic Records
SongwriterTaylor Swift
ProducersNathan Chapman (original)
Christopher Rowe
Taylor Swift
RED CHRONOLOGY
State of GraceRed
Single Certification
Hidden Message
I love you doesn’t count after goodbye
Song Artwork
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Lyric Video (Acoustic Version)
Official Audio
Official Acoustic Version
Original Audio
Original Acoustic Version