What We Think Taylor Swift's Vault Track Suburban Legends Is Really About

Swifties worldwide rejoiced on October 27, 2023, with the release of Taylor Swift's "1989 (Taylor's Version)." It could be called the musical version of a director's cut: The iconic album now includes five original tracks that were left off the original. Swift announced the news on social media back in August, saying, "To be perfectly honest, this is my most FAVORITE re-record I've ever done because the 5 From The Vault tracks are so insane. I can't believe they were ever left behind. But not for long!"

In a follow-up post, Swift addressed her fans in "gratitude and wild wonder," with a sly nod to one of her hits: "Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the magic you would sprinkle on my life for so long. This moment is a reflection of the woods we've wandered through and all this love still glowing between us in the darkest dark." 

Among the new-to-us songs are "Slut," an obvious nod to her rep for having a tumultuous dating history, and "Now That We Don't Talk," a lament about things left unsaid and unresolved after a painful breakup. Then there's a track called "Suburban Legends," another take on a relationship gone wrong. The song addresses an ex who was "so magnetic, it was almost obnoxious/Flush with the currency of cool" (per the official YouTube video). The lyrics are a poignant — and so relatable — tribute to nostalgia and regret.

Taylor Swift sings about a high school romance gone south

Taylor Swift's "Suburban Legends" tells the story of a woman who thought her teen romance would be the stuff of, yes, "suburban legends." It's implied that the two grew up in a small 'burb, where dating the right person in high school can boost your prestige level around town to astronomical levels. Although she and her lover have "mismatched star signs," she still had hopes their love would beat the odds and be "more than a chapter in my old diaries/With the pages ripped out." She even fantasizes about being with him long enough to go to their class reunion together and see the shocked reaction of their old classmates in their "1950s gymnasium." You can almost see the crepe paper swags on the bleachers and smell the lingering aroma of basketball high-tops. 

The repeat of the chorus indicates the couple parted ways at some point after high school, perhaps headed to college, a career, or a new city. Still, it was intended to be just temporary: "[Y]ou told me we'd get back together/And you kissed me in a way that's gonna screw me up forever," Swift recalls. They left on good terms, confident they would be regarded as "national treasures" when they returned to their tract-house hometown and picked up where they left off. 

But, this being Taylor Swift — not to mention Taylor Swift in her major pop-star era — the song ends with smashed dreams. (Beautifully written ones, but smashed nonetheless.)

'Suburban Legends' ends with a broken heart

From the start, "Suburban Legends" drops clues that the relationship does not, in fact, become legendary. The speaker, as voiced by Taylor Swift, admits noticing her boyfriend gets calls from "unmarked numbers." She opts to "let it slide like a hose on a slippery plastic summer" because she's confident theirs is the real thing. 

The final verse proves otherwise. The passage of time is marked by images of a clock ticking and the tide coming in, and the speaker's old boyfriend never returns to pick up where they left off. She is crushed: "I dash to the door/You don't knock anymore and I always knew it/That my life would be ruined." It appears the guy never even reached out to officially call it quits with her. The Kleenex-inducing lyric "I broke my own heart 'cause you were too polite to do it" suggests she was ghosted at some point after they parted ways. And the "ruined life" tells us she has yet to find a love to equal what she once had.

"Suburban Legends" is a fitting addition to existing "1989" hits such as "Blank Space," "Shake It Off," and "Bad Blood." Fans wholeheartedly agree. A commenter on the official YouTube video raved, "How do you capture what an entire relationship goes through in 3 minutes and it just hits? Wow what a legend." Agreed another, "This is probably one of the best lyrically written songs she ever has [done]. First line/stanza and she already hit bullseye."