Taylor Swift’s “Change” Lyrics Meaning

If there’s one positive thing we can say about Taylor Swift, despite not knowing her personally, it’s that she’s serious about her business and accordingly possesses a hard work ethic. After all, to our knowledge there has been no other musician in history who, after getting into beef with their former label, has set about rerecording their first six albums. 

And this is an especially daunting task as far as a singer in particular would be concerned, as their voices tend to wear down as the years progress. Well after the master recordings of her first six albums were sold to celebrity music manager Scooter Braun in 2019, that’s exactly what Tay Tay pledged to do. 

And the reason we’re mentioning all of this in the first place is because there is a standard, original meaning of this song (“Change”) as released in 2008. But after being re-recorded and then re-issued in 2021, considering all of the above some Swifties have interpreted it differently. And we will get into said interpretation later on.

Taylor Swift wrote this song when she was just 16 years old, i.e. around the time that she first became professional. As of the writing of this post, with Taylor currently being in her early 30s, we all recognize her as one of the most-successful musicians in the world. But this song came out back in the days before she blew up like that. 

In fact as illustrated in the first verse, there was a time when she was actually frustrated by lack of achievement in her career.

The Lyrics

But such is the premise of the song, not the conclusion. Instead as far as a thesis sentiment goes, what “Change” serves is an ode to the singer and her supporters who remained tenacious, committed and focused even amidst such setbacks. 

And more specifically, said supporters would be personified in Scott Borchetta, the founder of Big Machine Records, i.e. the label which Taylor Swift was signed to back then.

So more simply put, this song serves at least partially as a roundabout shoutout to Big Machine Records. And what the title symbolizes is the optimism of all parties involved that eventually “things will change” for the better. This includes Taylor, who despite her young age was able to recognize that being signed to a small-time label, as Big Machine was at the time, represented an uphill battle in terms of establishing herself as a music star. 

And overall her optimism was not based on the songstress being cocky or conceited or anything like that. Instead it’s more like faith, i.e. she being under the disposition that the aforementioned tenacity will eventually pay off. 

So it’s almost as if she is telling Big Machine ‘your investment in me is not in vain’. This is an assertion which did prove prophetic since, as far as the present day early-21st goes at least, she was by far the biggest name to grace their roster.

Taylor Swift talks about "Change"

Lyrics with General Applicability

But we can say even more so than that this song has a general applicability. For instance, neither Taylor Swift nor Big Machine are even remotely mentioned in the lyrics. 

Instead it’s more of an “I” and “we” type of affair. And what these parties symbolize, once again, are entities who are facing perpetual hardship in terms of blowing up, so to speak. But more to the point is the idea that they “never gave in”. So at the end of the day the narrator foretells that they will “sing halleluiah”, i.e. praises, once victory is finally achieved.

Things Change

But now as far as more-modern times are concerned, Swift’s relationship with Scott Borchetta and co. has changed (no pun intended). Their relationship has been thoroughly spoiled due to the fact that it was Big Machine who sold her masters to Ithaca Holdings, i.e. Scooter Braun. 

And perhaps you’re saying to yourself ‘well what’s the big deal? It’s all business anyway.’ Well reportedly Taylor tried to purchase the selfsame masters herself beforehand, and Borchetta refused to let her do so. And to also put the matter into proper perspective, she signed said masters away in the first place when she was only 15 years old. 

Many of these are not only songs she recited but also ones that she has written herself. Or put plainly they hold a personal significance to her, including of the monetary variety. And at the end of the day, even beyond the recordings being owned by someone else (which they always were) it’s like Taylor really, really didn’t want Scooter to have them and let such be known to Scott Borchetta beforehand.

The New Meaning of “Change”

So with all of the above in mind, when the re-recorded version of “Change” came out in 2021, even though the lyrics are virtually the same, the feel is different. And the titular “change” would be interpreted more along the lines of the singer’s own life changing, now being a part of Republic Records. It should be noted that Republic afforded her more creative freedom than Big Machine. 

So now, it’s like Big Machine itself has become the aforementioned setback as opposed to the hero of the story.

But yet and still, the present doesn’t change the past. And there was a moment in time, even if that time isn’t now, when Taylor Swift was genuinely appreciative of the dedication Big Machine Records exhibited in her professional career. 

After all, if someone were to give you a list of every professional musician signed to a label, about 80-90% would be acts you never even heard, considering that said labels don’t even promote all of their artists like that. You know, resources are limited, and no investment is a guaranteed return. But Big Machine did promote Taylor Swift, a self-described “16 year old girl” being signed to a “small record label”.

Lyrics for "Change"

Facts about “Change”

This is a song which Taylor Swift wrote by herself. And the producer of this track is Nathan Chapman, who has worked extensively with Tay Tay.

Concerning this track’s general applicability, stateside it was used as one of the theme songs of the 2008 Summer Olympics via television network NBC. In fact its official release date of 8 August 2008 primarily represents the day in which “Change” was issued as the second promotional single from the AT&T Team USA Soundtrack.

"Change"
Cover art for “Change”

“Fearless”, the actual Taylor Swift album (via Big Machine Records) this track is featured on, didn’t come out until three months later.  And “Change” was never released as a standard single from that album but rather as its first promotional single on the same aforementioned date.

And in terms of its chart showing, “Change” did make it onto the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. It was the first Taylor Swift song to actually do so. Additionally it went on to be certified gold in the United States by the RIAA in 2012.

Meanwhile the aforementioned Taylor’s Version of this track came out on 9 April 2021 on part of the songstress’s re-recording of the entire Fearless project.

The title of “Fearless” (the album) was apparently partially inspired by this song.

Taylor Swift discusses "Change"

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