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The Lucky One

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

“The Lucky One” is a song on Taylor’s fourth studio album, RED (2012). It tells the story of a star who had it all — and who was also exposed to all the tabloids, lights, and cameras. After her secrets were being leaked all over the world the star moved away from Hollywood, to a life of solitude. Nobody knew where she went. The re-recording of the song, “The Lucky One (Taylor’s Version)”, was released on November 12, 2021 on the album RED (Taylor’s Version).

Background

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. One of the resulting collaborations was “The Lucky One”, which was produced by Jeff Bhasker who also worked with her on “Holy Ground.”

Lyrical Theme and Production

Taylor wrote “The Lucky One” while being on the “Speak Now World Tour” in Australia, and although she never revealed who the song is about (she set a rule against this herself), it is rumored to be about Joni Mitchell and Kim Wilde. Some of the lyrics could possibly be referencing how Wilde left her career to become a landscape gardener. Furthermore, the main melody is sampled from Wilde’s “Four Letter Word”. The song ends with Taylor realizing that she’d become “The Lucky One”.

«It kind of talks about some of my fears through telling the story of other people that I was inspired by. More than their stories being told, I’m pretty much singing about what I’m scared of in that song, ending up kind of caught up in this whole thing, and lonely, and feeling misunderstood, and feeling like when people think you’re lucky that you’re really not. It kind of expresses my greatest fear of having this not end up being fun anymore, having it end up being a scary place. Some people get there, some people end up there. It’s a story song and it’s something I’m really proud of because it kind of goes to a place that I’m terrified of.»

Taylor Swift
Producer Jeff Bhasker added that this song was one of his personal favorites from 2012: “I was really impressed when she brought that. That track falls into a little bit more of a Springsteen, Joni Mitchell vein, which I think shows a lot of maturity and what a good songwriter she is. The lyrics are kind of about her, it has a story, and at the end I think she’s talking about Joni Mitchell rejecting fame, even though she never mentions her. She was on tour in a hotel room alone feeling a little too famous when she wrote that. To be able to express your feelings through music, that’s what it’s all about.”

Taylor's Experience With Fame

The song has a special meaning to Taylor. Not many people can understand what it is like to be famous and in the years after this song’s release her worst fears came true in 2016 when some of her rivals in the industry (including Scooter Braun, Kanye West and Justin Bieber) succeded in launching a worldwide hate campaign against her. She disappeared from public view for an entire year and thought about quitting music for good. She has since written multiple songs about her own “cottage backup plan,” including “Call It What You Want” and “the lakes“. Back in 2012, when she didn’t know what was yet to happen, she tried to explain her experience with fame as follows:

«Being famous can be fun at first, but people have ended up in a scary place over time. Everybody’s got their way of dealing with it. And for me, sometimes it’s surrounding myself with my friends and venting, sometimes it’s staying up at the piano until four o'clock in the morning, sometimes it’s watching TV and forgetting about all of it, sometimes it’s calling my mother up and crying. Sometimes you have a really bad day. Your life is constantly analyzed. There’s a lot of trade-offs. There’s the microscope that’s always on you. The camera flashes, the fear that something you say will be taken the wrong way and you’ll let your fans down. There’s the fear that you’ll be walking down the street and your skirt will blow up and you’ll be in the news for three months. You’re scared of a lot of things for a lot of the time, but the trade-off of being able to get on a big stage and sing your songs. It’s worth it.»

Taylor Swift

Live Performances

“The Lucky One” was part of the regular setlist on “The RED Tour” (2013-2014) and featured an elaborate performance where Taylor portrayed a famous movie star in the 1950s. She has since only performed the song one more time; as an acoustic surprise song at her “reputation Stadium Tour” show in Atlanta (Georgia) on August 11, 2018.

Commercial Performance

Upon the release of RED (Taylor’s Version), “The Lucky One (Taylor’s Version)” debuted at No. 84 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the week ending November 26, 2021.

Taylor's Version

On August 6, 2021, Taylor announced that a re-recorded version of “The Lucky One”, titled “The Lucky One (Taylor’s Version)”, would be included on her second re-recorded album RED (Taylor’s Version), which was released on November 12, 2021, through Republic Records. With the release of the re-recording, it was also revealed that Taylor wrote another song while on tour in Australia in 2012: “Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” which also explores Taylor’s complicated, and in some aspects damaging thoughts when it comes to fame.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
New to town with a made up name
In the angel’s city, chasing fortune and fame
And the camera flashes make it look like a dream
You had it figured out since you were in school
Everybody loves pretty, everybody loves cool
So overnight, you look like a sixties’ queen

[Pre-chorus 1]
Another name goes up in lights
Like diamonds in the sky

[Chorus]
And they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one
Yeah, they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one
But can you tell me now, you’re the lucky one?
Oh, oh, oh

[Verse 2]
Now it’s big black cars and Riviera views
And your lover in the foyer doesn’t even know you
And your secrets end up splashed on the news front page
And they tell you that you’re lucky, but you’re so confused
‘Cause you don’t feel pretty, you just feel used
And all the young things line up to take your place

[Pre-chorus 2]
Another name goes up in lights
You wonder if you’ll make it out alive

[Chorus]
And they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one
Yeah, they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one
But can you tell me now, you’re the lucky one?
Oh, oh, oh

[Bridge]
It was a few years later, I showed up here
And they still tell the legend of how you disappeared
How you took the money and your dignity, and got the hell out
They say you bought a bunch of land somewhere
Chose the Rose Garden over Madison Square
And it took some time, but I understand it now

[Pre-Chorus 3]
‘Cause now my name is up in lights
But I think you got it right

[Final Chorus]
Let me tell you now, you’re the lucky one
Let me tell you now, you’re the lucky one
Let me tell you now, you’re the lucky one
Oh, oh, oh
Yeah they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one
Yeah, they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one
And they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one
Oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh

General Information
AlbumsRED
RED (Taylor’s Version)
ReleasedOctober 22, 2012
Re-ReleasedNovember 12, 2021
WrittenMarch, 2012
StudioEnormous (Los Angeles)
GenreFolk Pop
Length4:00
LabelsBig Machine Records
Republic Records
SongwriterTaylor Swift
ProducerJeff Bhasker
RED CHRONOLOGY
Sad Beautiful TragicThe Lucky OneEverything Has Changed
Hidden Message
Wouldn’t you like to know
Song Artwork
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Taylor's Version
Original Audio