Nothing New (From The Vault)

Feat. Phoebe Bridgers | RED (Taylor's Version) [2021]

“Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]” is a song written by Taylor in 2012. It was released on November 12, 2021, as a duet with American singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers for Taylor’s album RED (Taylor’s Version). The song is Taylor’s message about the music industry’s treatment of female musicians.
When Taylor wrote “Nothing New” she was in her early 20s and acutely aware of her novelty fading. In the song, she feels crushed by time passing and her self-knowledge evaporating with it, and anticipates the cruel turnover of young women in the public eye. It articulates observations that she wouldn’t make publicly for years to come – not until the overexposure of the 1989 era and the viral hate train of 2016. You wonder if the song was left off the original RED because it felt too personal to Taylor at the time.

Background and Collaboration

Taylor originally wrote “Nothing New” alone while on her “Speak Now World Tour” in Australia and New Zealand, after being inspired by Joni Mitchell’s song “A Case of You.” The song title first got mentioned in a diary entry dated March 2, 2012, which Taylor published with her Lover (2019) album, writing: “‘Nothin’ New’ is about being scared of aging and things changing and losing what you have. It’s a really vulnerable song, but I think it’s important to say.”

The song’s original lyrics imagine Taylor one day meeting a teenage star who has “the kind of radiance you only have at 17/She’ll know the way and then she’ll say she got the map from me” – but by re-recording this archival track as a collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers, a younger songwriter and noted fan, she defies that culture of replacement and rivalry. Taylor told , that she specifically wanted her as a duet partner on the track: “Phoebe Bridgers is one of my favorite artists, I think she’s just phenomenal and I was so touched and honored when she jumped at the chance to record this as a duet. And she had such an amazing take on the song when she heard it, and how it applies to women and what we are taught about novelty, and newness, and youth. We had some really great talks about what this song means to us so it was really amazing to do this with her.” Phoebe is without a doubt one of the best duet partners of Taylor’s career. She told Billboard in October 2021 that the collaboration with Taylor has “just been a dream.”

«I just am so excited to have people take it at face value the day that it comes out, because I got teary recording it. I just couldn't be more excited.»

Phoebe Bridgers
Regarding Taylor’s mission to gain rights to master recordings of her catalog which she originally released under Big Machine Records, Phoebe said: “It’s really inspiring for me and a lot of musicians. I think a lot of people make a couple of records [and are] like, ‘Oh wow, I hit the top, I’m great now,’ and the fact that she just has always wanted more from the world — like, “No, no, no, fuck you, I’m going to make it again, I’m going to make it better, and it’s going to belong to me’ — is the coolest. I think that she is an incredible businessperson and an incredible writer. What she’s been able to build just from writing adeptly from a young age is insane.”

Lyrical Theme

In “Nothing New”, Taylor penned lines that illustrate just how far beyond her years she actually was at 22. The song is a hushed, candle-lit ballad – the sort of song you can imagine that she wrote in the middle of the night, fighting her own thoughts and insecurities about the toll that time takes on young women in the entertainment industry – long before she ever had a reason to worry about someone else taking her mantle. Upon the release of RED (Taylor’s Version), she told Amazon Music:

«The song 'Nothing New' is a song that I wrote when I was 22 and tour. I was on the New Zealand/Australia leg of a tour, I wrote a little bit in each of those places. It was during a phase of my career when I was on my fourth album, and even though I was only 22 I just felt like old news, I really did. I think that new artists don't realize that when they put out their first or second album that they're in this shiny, new phase where everything you do is interesting and exciting to people. And it's only when you get to the moment after your breakthrough where you realize that you're gonna have to figure out some other shade of yourself to show people. Because people are not responding the same way they did when you were brand new. And I think I was writing from that place, even though I was a very young person in terms of years. Being on my fourth album I felt like, 'Is anybody still interested? Are they even excited by what I do anymore? What happens to me after they're not anymore? What do I do then?' Because you get so attached to the idea of novelty.»

Taylor Swift
Now almost a decade later – with Taylor still riding at the forefront of pop music’s most celebrated artists – it appears that at least her final question has been answered…and it’s a resounding yes.

Critical Reception

“Nothing New” was lauded by music critics. Bobby Olivier of Spin deemed it track one of the album’s highlights, noting the thoughtful lyrics and Taylor’s double entendre message about the music industry. In The New York Times, Lindsay Lozadz praised Bridgers’s guest appearance and the songwriting, deeming it one of the best “From The Vault” tracks. Angie Martoccio of Rolling Stone lauded the track’s production: “Swift’s adult voice combines with Bridgers’ honey-soaked, hushed vocals, melding together in an autumn rush that brushes against your cheek.” The A.V. Club editor Saloni Gajjar picked “Nothing New” as the “most magnetic” among the unreleased tracks, highlighting its double-meaning message as well. Jason Lipshutz of Billboard complimented Bridgers’s appearance and Taylor’s lyrical capabilities. In Variety, Chris Willman gave the track a five-out-of-five rating, praising Bridgers’s vocals and Taylor’s thoughtful songwriting. The New Yorker‘s Carrie Battan compared “Nothing New” to the “folksy poeticism” of Taylor’s 2020 albums folklore and evermore.

Lyrics

[Verse 1: Taylor Swift]
They tell you while you’re young
“Girls, go out and have your fun”
Then they hunt and slay the ones who actually do it
Criticize the way you fly
When you’re soaring through the sky
Shoot you down and then they sigh
And say, “She looks like she’s been through it”
Lord, what will become of me once I’ve lost my novelty?

[Chorus: Taylor Swift]
I’ve had too much to drink tonight
And I know it’s sad but this is what I think about
And I wake up in the middle of the night
It’s like I can feel time moving
How can a person know everything at eighteen
But nothing at twenty-two?
And will you still want me when I’m nothing new?

[Verse 2: Phoebe Bridgers & Taylor Swift]
How long will it be cute, all this crying in my room?
When you can’t blame it on my youth
And roll your eyes with affection
And my cheeks are growing tired
From turning red and faking smiles
Are we only biding time ’til I lose your attention?
And someone else lights up the room?
People love an ingénue

[Chorus: Phoebe Bridgers & Taylor Swift]
I’ve had too much to drink tonight
How did I go from growing up to breaking down?
And I wake up in the middle of the night
It’s like I can feel time moving
How can a person know everything at eighteen
But nothing at twenty-two?
And will you still want me when I’m nothing new?

[Bridge: Taylor Swift & Phoebe Bridgers]
I know someday I’m gonna meet her
It’s a fever dream
The kind of radiance you only have at seventeen
She’ll know the way and then she’ll say she got the map from me
I’ll say I’m happy for her then I’ll cry myself to sleep
Oh woah, oh woah, oh, oh

[Chorus: Taylor Swift & Phoebe Bridgers]
I’ve had (I’ve had) too much to drink tonight
But I wonder if they’ll miss me once they drive me out
I wake up (Wake up) in the middle of the night
And I can feel time moving
How can a person know everything at eighteen
But nothing at twenty-two?
And will you still want me, will you still want me
Will you still want me when I’m nothing new?

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General Information
AlbumRED (Taylor’s Version)
FeaturePhoebe Bridgers
ReleasedNovember 12, 2021
Recorded2021
WrittenMarch 2, 2012
GenreFolk
Singer-Songwriter
Length4:18
LabelRepublic Records
SongwriterTaylor Swift
ProducersAaron Dessner
Taylor Swift
RED CHRONOLOGY
Better ManNothing NewBabe
Lyric Video
Official Audio
Diary Entry from 2012