Meaning of “Castles Crumbling (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]” by Taylor Swift (ft. Hayley Williams)

“Castles Crumbling” is one of six “From the Vault” songs that was included on “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)”, the re-recorded Taylor Swift album that Republic Records released on 7 July 2023. In other words, the original version of “Speak Now” came out back in 2010, as Swift’s third-studio album, and the tracks from its playlist have been re-recorded for “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)”. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Taylor Swift's Castles Crumbling (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault] at

Besides that a few songs from that era which were never released before have also been added. Those would be the “From the Vault” tracks, such as this one.

That said, it doesn’t appear as if Taylor and Hayley actually recorded a version of this song back in the days. What is known is that they share a genuine friendship which does date back to the “Speak Now” era (with Williams dubbing Swift as the “first industry friend” she ever had). 

And by the looks of things, the latter enlisted the former for the specific purpose of participating on “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)”, as Swift wanted its “From the Vault” tracks to feature ‘artists who influenced her most powerfully at that time’ that the original came out. As such there is another “From the Vault” track that has been added, “Electric Touch“, which features Fall Out Boy (while the other four are solo efforts).


“Castles Crumbling” is the first official collaboration between Taylor Swift and Hayley Williams. 

However, Williams did once serve as Swift’s special guest during the latter’s Speak Now World Tour of 2011. And she also played a role in the star-studded music video to Taylor’s 2015 single “Bad Blood“.

Taylor Swift is the sole credited writer of this song, as with all of the tracks on “Speak Now”, both the original and re-recorded version of the album. But whereas she co-produced the original LP with Nathan Chapman, with “Castles Crumbing”, Jack Antonoff, whom Swift began working with in 2013, served that role.

Hayley Williams is the lead vocalist of a trio known as Paramore, who earlier in 2023 dropped their first album, “This Is Why”, since 2017.

The reason Taylor Swift has re-recorded “Speak Now” is because she got into a serious beef with the label that put out the original, Big Machine Records, over the sale of the master recordings she laid down under them. 

In fact Swift has set about re-recording all six studio albums she dropped under Big Machine and thus far have done two others, “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “Red (Taylor’s Version)”, both of which came out in 2021.

The term “castle crumbled” is utilized in the first line of Taylor Swift’s 2017 track “Call It What You Want”.


To say that a ‘castle is crumbling’ is a literal metaphor so to speak, pointing to the idea of something that was once great now noticeably being in decline. And that is the type of character the two vocalists are portraying, one who in her ‘golden age had an empire’ but now feels as if she has “fallen from grace”.

And of course, considering that the vocalists are music stars and that the lyrics speak to fandoms and things of the such, it can be taken that they are referring to their music careers. But first of all as far as that theory is concerned, Taylor wrote this song, and honestly speaking she has yet to go through what may be truly deemed as a bad or discouraging era as far as her post-breakthrough career is concerned. 

To the contrary, to this day some of Swift’s fans are known to be, shall we say rabidly loyal. And secondly, none of the lyrics directly reference the music industry.


What has been postulated is that they are based on the one time Taylor did publicly take a loss, in a manner of speaking. And that was when Kanye West infamously interrupted her, on live television, during the 2009 MTV VMAs. 

That transpired the year before “Speak Now” came out, and in hindsight it can be argued Yeezus made an a*s out of himself more than anything else. But later down the line, in 2020, Taylor did reveal that while Kanye was upstaging her and the crowd was booing, she actually thought those disses were directed at her. 

So again, taking for granted that this composition does date back to the “Speak Now” days, it has been theorized that it was perhaps inspired by that incident, whereas Swift felt, even if only for a moment, that fans had turned on her.

“I feel like my castle’s crumbling down
And I watch all my bridges burn to the ground
And you don’t want to know me, I will just let you down
You don’t wanna know me now”

But more realistically, the lyrics read as if she and Hayley are taking on a role. And who they are portraying is someone who was once adored, but now her followers have grown to hate her. 

The implication would be that the narrator is some type of celebrity, i.e. someone who relies on mass approval, i.e. her fans, for her livelihood. But it’s not only entertainers who fall into that category, as so do the likes of politicians, as well as some businesspeople.

Indeed this piece is interesting because it’s almost as if the lyrics are referring to is cancel culture, even though they would have been written well before that phenomenon really took off. That is to say that the narrator comes off as if she is in awe of how quickly her “castle’s crumbling down”. And indeed, in the last few years we’ve seen a number of rich, famous and respected individuals go from hero to zero seemingly in the blink of an eye, though most of them have been male.


So we will close out by saying that what “Castles Crumbling” represents is a failure fantasy on the part of Taylor Swift. Or put otherwise, just as people tend to fantasize about success, we also have the tendency to imagine what utter failure in our lives would look like. 

And in the case of those like Taylor and Hayley, as alluded to in the pre-chorus, that would start with them becoming too big-headed for their own good. Furthermore, the imagined result would be akin to the admiration and love they enjoyed from the masses transforming into disgust and hate, and the vocalist’s “great hope for a dynasty” likewise being crushed. 

So maybe the way Kanye inspired this piece is not by causing Swift anguish but rather through his own impenitent arrogance. That is to say that it’s almost as if “Castles Crumbling” rather predicted his fall from grace.

Castles Crumbling (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]

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