"A clear Jake song." Every single Easter egg and hidden meaning in Red (Taylor’s Version).

So, we've all had time to digest the beast that is the 30-track Red (Taylor's Version) by now. 

How are we doing? Personally, I might be okay but I'm not fine at all. Time won't fly, it's like I'm paralysed by it. I'm a crumpled up piece of paper lying here, etc. etc.

The re-release of Taylor Swift's fourth album, 2012's Red, is the second in the singer's quest to re-record her six albums she does not own the masters for. Along with the original album's tracks, she's released nine songs 'from the vault' and Ronan, a charity single from the era.

She wrote these songs from late-2010 to mid-2012. And it turns out those two years were very formative.

In 2012, she claimed Jake Gyllenhaal, who is the subject of most of the album, had a much better response to her music than the "crazy emails" she received from another ex, widely believed to be John Mayer. 

"He was like, 'I just listened to the album, and that was a really bittersweet experience for me. It was like going through a photo album.' That was nice," she said at the time. "Nicer than, like, the ranting, crazy e-mails I got from this one dude."

Swift and Gyllenhaal, both pictured in October 2010. Image: Getty. 


Nine years later, the relationship is back in the spotlight thanks to the re-records and nine new tracks 'from the vault'. But... how much is about him? (Spoiler alert: a lot.)

For her first few albums, Taylor had a signature move: she sprinkled capital letters throughout the lyric sheets in the album notes, revealing a hidden message about the meaning of each song.

So, let's recap those and then get into those new vault tracks.

'State of Grace' and 'State of Grace (Acoustic Version)'.


'State of Grace' kicks off the 'love f***ing sucks' theme of Red right from the get-go. 


It's a Jake song, and here's the lyrical proof:

"Twin fire signs" - Taylor and Jake are both Sagittarius.

"Four blue eyes" - they... well yeah this one is self-explanatory.

She also repeats the words "never" and "ever" a lot, kind of like she does in another song...


Hidden message: SAG.

SAG could either refer to their star signs again (maybe Taylor was going through a horoscope phase), or the Screen Actors Guild, which Jake is a part of.

Also, the lyrics "Like the colours in autumn, so bright, just before they lose it all" is literally their relationship in a sentence. Their relationship was basically maple lattes and scarves. It could not be more autumnal.


Hidden message: WON'T STOP UNTIL IT'S OVER.

The hidden message is a lyric from The Temper Trap, which should point to Jake, because she really likes to tell us about his music taste, until you find out that Harry Styles (whom she'd done a writing session with during the lead up to Red) has a tattoo of lyrics from the same song.

'I Knew You Were Trouble'.

Hidden message: WHEN YOU SAW ME DANCING.

Everyone has different theories about this one too. It could be John or Jake, or any other man whose name starts with J. No one really knows.

'All Too Well' and 'All Too Well (Ten Minute Version)'.

Hidden message: MAPLE LATTES.



Jake and Taylor were first captured by paparazzi in November 2010, in the middle of autumn. They spent that Thanksgiving together in Upstate New York, where they were spotted with Starbucks maple lattes in hand. She is also wearing... a scarf.

These are very important details. That scarf is the single most important item in Swift folklore.


Now, the lyrics (from the standard song, and the extended version!):

"And I left my scarf there at your sister's house / And you've still got it in your drawer, even now" - SCARF ALERT.

"Your sweet disposition" - if there is one thing you will learn from this article, it is that Jake has very particular music taste. This line is also the title of a song from The Temper Trap. 

"You said if we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine" - Jake was 29, Taylor was 20.

"Some actress asking me what happened, you / That's what happened, you" - In January 2011, media reports said Jennifer Aniston had approached Taylor at an event and told her to 'hang in there' after their split went public.

Watch: All Too Well: The Short Film trailer. Post continues below video.

Video via Taylor Swift.

"You who charmed my dad with self-effacing jokes / Sipping coffee like you're on a late-night show / But then he watched me watch the front door all night, willing you to come And he said, 'It's supposed to be fun turning twenty-one'" - Taylor's disastrous 21st birthday party, which is the subject of 'The Moment I Knew', gets another mention.


"And I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes / 'I'll get older, but your lovers stay my age'" - a double jab, because she sings a lot about how he never found her funny, and because Jake's current girlfriend is 25 years old.

"And did the twin flame bruise paint you blue?" - a call back to 'State of Grace' and their "twin fire signs".



As in GREENE AGRON CALLAWAY GOMEZ. This is about friendship.

There's also the added layer of Taylor making a big deal out of a normally insignificant birthday, a year after her disastrous 21st.

'I Almost Do'.


A clear Jake song.

Verse two uses those words "never, ever" again: "I bet it never, ever occurred to you / That I can’t say hello to you and risk another goodbye"

'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together'.


Image: UMG. 


An indie music snob who doesn't think Taylor is funny? May I refer you to 'I Bet You Think About Me' and 'Begin Again'.

'Stay Stay Stay'.


She made this up.

'The Last Time'.

Hidden message: L.A. ON YOUR BREAK.

The last time Taylor and Jake were spotted together was in Los Angeles, when paparazzi took photos of them looking ~tense~ in a car.

'The Last Time' is a duet with Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, about a guy who comes back again and again, begging for another chance over and over. It's basically 'WANEGBT' before you stop caring.


(Side note: Did Gary get 2000 per cent more Irish in the nine years since the original version?)

'Holy Ground'.

Hidden message: WHEN YOU CAME TO THE SHOW IN S.D. 

A goddamn BOP.

'Holy Ground' is all but confirmed to be about when ex-boyfriend-turned-friend Joe Jonas came to watch a couple of Speak Now tour shows in California.

'Sad Beautiful Tragic'.

Hidden message: WHILE YOU WERE ON A TRAIN.

Indie music enthusiast Jake joined Mumford and Sons on The Railroad Revival Tour, when they and a bunch of other artists toured the US on 17 vintage trains. That is... a real thing that happened.

The moral of this story is: if it's a ballad on Red, put all your money on Jake Gyllenhaal.

'The Lucky One'.

Hidden message: WOULDN'T YOU LIKE TO KNOW.

Taylor wrote 'The Lucky One' while in Perth for the Speak Now tour. Rise, Australia!

It's basically about how fame is... a bit sh*t. There's speculation the song is about Joni Mitchell, who "came to town with a made-up name" or British singer Kim Wilde. who "chose the rose garden over Madison Square" when she abandoned her career to become a landscape gardener.

'Everything Has Changed'.

Hidden message: HYANNIS PORT.

In this, Taylor and bestie Ed Sheeran sing about that feeling of wanting to get to know somebody better.

She sings about "green eyes and freckles", and the hidden message refers to Hyannis Port in Massachusetts, the location of the Kennedy family's compound. 


This makes it pretty obvious that this is about green-eyed Conor Kennedy, who Taylor dated over the summer of 2012. That was a weird time.


Hidden message: FOR ETHEL.

Image: Getty. 

No really, Taylor went through a really weird Kennedy phase. She wrote this about Ethel Kennedy and her husband, Robert F. Kennedy.


'Begin Again'.

Hidden message: I WEAR HEELS NOW.

'Begin Again' is about realising you are over a past relationship. Or more specifically, Taylor realising she was over that one particular indie music fan.

"He didn't like it when I wore high heels, but I do" is a jab at Jake, whose height is the subject of a really weird internet conspiracy theory. 

And "I think it's strange that you think I'm funny 'cause he never did" is similar to lines in 'All Too Well' and 'WANEGBT'.

It's believed the man who helped her realise she had moved on was Will Anderson from the band Parachute, who she hung out with a bit towards the end of 2011... "eight months" after her and Jake were done for good.

'The Moment I Knew'.

The full story about her tragic 21st birthday!


'Come Back... Be Here'.

This relays a very celebrity issue... not being able to see the person you like because of their jet-setting lifestyle. It could honestly be anyone who has been to New York and London.

'Girl At Home'.

About a dirty, dirty cheater.

The internet reckons this is about Zac Efron, who was dating Lily Collins at the time he and Taylor promoted The Lorax together, but the only evidence is the timeline. But this could also be about anyone. Justice for Zac.


The song most likely to turn you into a blubbering mess, 'Ronan' was written in 2012 from the perspective of Maya Thompson, whose three-year-old son had recently died of neuroblastoma. Swift based the lyrics on posts from her blog, Rockstar Ronan, and credited her as a co-writer.

Taylor performed it at the televised Stand Up to Cancer benefit, and all proceeds from its sale on iTunes were donated to cancer research.


Better Man.

Taylor wrote this around the time of Red, but when it didn't make the album, she gifted it to country group Little Big Town, who released their version in 2016.

It's reminiscent of other Jake songs:

"And I know why we had to say goodbye like the back of my hand / But I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man" is similar to the themes of 'I Almost Do' and 'The Last Time'.

"And it was always on your terms" is similar to lines 'WANEGBT' and 'All Too Well (Ten Minute Version)'.


Nothing New.

This was written in Perth during the Speak Now tour, along with 'The Lucky One', so Taylor was clearly handling fame… well at this time.

The first verse explores themes she sings about a lot in later albums, like with 'The Man' on Lover and 'Mad Woman' on folklore.

"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".


It’s also creepily prophetic, perfectly describing 2021’s biggest new artist, and certified Swiftie, Olivia Rodrigo in the bridge:

"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".


'Babe' was released as a single in 2018 by country duo Sugarland after Taylor scrapped it from the original Red track listing.

It's about finding out someone cheated, but there's no specific detail as to who cheated (besides being written at the same time as the rest of these brutal breakup songs...)

Message in a Bottle.

Is it giving you One Direction bubblegum pop? YEAH. EXACTLY.

"How is it London?" she asks a hottie with green eyes she just met (she and One Direction met for the first time at the 2012 Kids Music Awards, according to internet super sleuths).

It's giving us 'I have a crush on Harry Styles', and honestly, same.

I Bet You Think About Me.

Let's run through the Jake jabs, shall we?

"You grew up in a silver-spoon gated community/Glamorous, shiny, bright Beverly Hills" - Jake's father is director Stephen Gyllenhaal, and his mother is producer and screenwriter Naomi Foner, so he grew up in Hollywood.


"You laughed at my dreams, rolled your eyes at my jokes" - we know from the extended 'All Too Well', 'WANEGBT' and 'Begin Again' that he didn't find her funny.

"Do you have all the space that you need?" - parallels the 'WANEGBT' lyric "We hadn't seen each other in a month when you said we needed space." 

"I bet you think about me when you're out/At your cool indie music concerts every week" - GUYS. JAKE GYLLENHAAL REALLY LIKES INDIE MUSIC.

I also just need to call out how funny this is:

"I bet you think about me in your house/With your organic shoes and your million-dollar couch." 


'Forever Winter'.

'Forever Winter' is about trying to help someone you love through a tough time, and based on the timing it seems most likely to have been written about one of her friends, who died of a drug overdose in 2010.

Soon after the release of Speak Now, Taylor's best friend Jeff Lang died aged 21.

"Too young to know it gets better/ I'll be summer sun for you forever/ Forever winter if you go." 

She spoke about singing at his funeral the day before she won a songwriting award in 2010.



The song she and Ed Sheeran wrote on the first day they met, about a week before 'Everything Has Changed', so it's almost certainly also about Conor Kennedy.

The Very First Night.


There are lots of thematic similarities between this and 'All Too Well', like in the lyrics: "Dance in the kitchen, chase me down through the hallway", which is like "We're dancing in the kitchen in the refrigerator light".

She also mentions how "all roads lead back to you", even if she tries to move on, which is like the on-again-off-again relationship described in 'I Almost Do' and 'The Last Time'.

And... I need a nap. It's a lot, isn't it?

See you for what I predict will be next: Speak Now (Taylor's Version), which will probably have John Mayer sending some more angry emails.

Feature image: Universal Music Group. 

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