"Looking at it now, it all seems so simple."
It's with these words that Taylor Swift opens her 1989 song "Out of the Woods," a track that fans have long presumed to be about her 2012 relationship with Harry Styles, which reportedly ended in January 2013 after a doomed vacation to the Caribbean left Swift heading home alone. (The alleged moment was immortalized in a now-legendary photo of her in a blue dress sitting by herself on a boat.)
Indeed, the answer to that song's central question, "Are we out of the woods yet?," does seem simple when looked at through the lens of "Is It Over Now?," one of five new vault tracks on 1989 (Taylor's Version), Swift's re-recorded take on the original 2014 album. The song feels like a direct sequel to "Out of the Woods," providing insight into what may very well be the same ill-fated romance, possibly hers with Styles.
To recap: Though the pop star never confirms whom her music is about, numerous elements of "Out of the Woods" hint that it's about Styles, including the period the song and its parent album were released, its mentions of necklaces and paper airplanes (Styles famously wore a paper airplane charm necklace back in the day), and its references to a snowmobile accident Swift was later confirmed to be in with an ex (Styles was seen with a bandaged chin around the same time).
The track features the narrator gazing toward the past, to a time when she was fretting over a relationship, wondering over and over again if it was going to work out. As Swift sings, "Are we in the clear yet?"
Kevin Winter/TAS23/Getty The final night of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour in Los Angeles
"Is It Over Now?" is the final vault track on her re-released 1989, which is fitting because it feels like a true ending to the relationship that unfolds on the original album, and in "Out of the Woods" in particular. It's a breakup song through and through, and it seems to respond to the questions asked in "Out of the Woods" (somewhat ironically) with another question: "Baby, was it over then? And is it over now?" Swift sings that line multiple times as she details different moments in the relationship that could have been its turning point and ultimate undoing.
"Is It Over Now?" and "Out of the Woods" likely nod to the same relationship. Take the line in the new song, "When you lost control / Red blood, white snow / Blue dress, on a boat," which seems like a fairly obvious reference to those snowmobile and boat incidents. "Is It Over Now?" also offers some good digs at an ex. "You search in every model's bed for something greater, baby," Swift sings in one line, and then in another (our personal favorite), "If she's got blue eyes I will surmise that you'll probably date her." This is all speculative, of course, but a complete roundup of Styles' dating history over the years does include several models and blue-eyed beauties.
Regardless, it's clear that the answer to "Is it over now?" is yes. She has closure — though not the good kind. The relationship has ended. Swift concludes the song with, "Let's fast-forward to 300 takeout coffees later / I was hoping you'd be there / And say the one thing / I've been wanting... but no."
To drive that point home, a sound at the beginning of "Is It Over Now?" is vaguely reminiscent of a birdcall echoing in a forest, leaving the listener with the feeling that, sadly, the couple at the heart of it — whether it's Swift and Styles or not — never did make it out of the woods.
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