“Tell Me Why” by Taylor Swift

Like many of Taylor Swift’s songs, the storyline featured in this one is sourced from her real life, i.e. a situation she actually went through. And from the onset we can see that this (“Tell Me Why”) was a tumultuous one. More specifically the insinuation is that the addressee, i.e. a romantic interest, was emotionally abusive towards her. 

From the beginning, the singer herself comes off as someone who is not overly confident in this union. In other words, she knows that it may work out, or it may not. Or stated otherwise she is not overly familiar with the addressee, nor is he with her. For instance, he may be under the impression that the toxic things he does and says may not really affect her. But to the contrary, they do. 

In fact as to be expected they are compelling her to unlike him, which is apparently something he is too caught up in his ways to realize until it is too late.

Inconsistent Character

In fact that is more of less what the chorus centers on, such inconsistencies in his character. The verses, though focusing on his a-sholish tendencies, do not paint a complete picture. Dude can be cool sometimes also. For instance, just as the vocalist internalizes his mistreatment, she also takes it to heart when he says that he loves her.

But ultimately, what’s bothering her is twofold. Yes, first and foremost would be his afore-alluded “temper” and “mean streak”. But secondly, she is in fact feeling him. Or another way of looking at it is that if any other dude were behaving this way, she would just cut him off. But considering that she ‘needs’ this particular person “like a heartbreak”, she has found herself in a truly unfavorable situation, being emotionally dependent on someone who is abusive.

“Tell Me Why”

Moreover his ways are quite inexplicably, as there appears to be no practical reason for him to behave towards her in such a manner.  And that’s what brings us to the titular request, “tell me why”. 

This guy may not necessarily know the magnitude of how much his negativity is affecting Taylor, but he does know that it is affecting her nonetheless. Her pain is still visible, even if she doesn’t display it in full. 

Moreover, this is an adult that we’re talking about here. And when one person does something to intentionally hurt another, on top of such attempts usually proving successful, they are generally cognizant of what they are doing.

So that’s what has Taylor baffled. It’s as if dude is loving one moment and hateful the next. And the latter is definitely being more pronounced. Meanwhile she is not doing anything to provoke him in between. 

So in the bridge, the vocalist sort of comes to the conclusion that dude is rather suffering from low self-esteem – for lack of a better way of describing it. That is to say that he is one of those types of people who feels better about himself by putting others down. Moreover, he is trying to minimize the singer’s self-confidence so that she can rather focus more on him. So it can be said that he’s intimidated by an independent woman, which is a further manifestation of his own internal issues.

In Closing…

So the song concludes with the songstress finally cutting the addressee off. She warned him beforehand that she wasn’t “bulletproof”, i.e. the type of person who could continually endure abuse, but still he didn’t let up. So now she has shown him, the hard way, that she was in fact serious about that.

Lyrics for "Tell Me Why"

Facts about “Tell Me Why”

This song came out on 11 November 2008. 

Swifties know that this is the same year in which Taylor dated Joe Jonas – a relationship that ended on a very sour note as far as she was concerned. But that association is not what this track is based on. Rather the addressee was someone whom Swift was very interested in, but they never ended up having an actual romance. So his annoying inconsistencies were rather manifest while Swift was feeling him out in consideration of actually dating him.

Taylor Swift wrote this song alongside Liz Rose, a regular musical collaborator whom she actually went to for consoling as a result of the aforementioned guy was treating her. In other words, the two of them took the situation and “turned it into a song”. 

Taylor Swift explains "Tell Me Why"

And Swift co-produced the tune alongside another musician she worked with frequently back in those days, Nathan Chapman.

This song was originally featured on Fearless, Taylor’s second album, which is a product of Big Machine Records. 

Some years down the line, due to some serious beef she developed with Big Machine, Swift re-recorded the entire project and re-released it, in 2021, under Republic Records. 

That particular edition is known as Fearless (Taylor’s Version). And likewise the re-recording of this track featured therein is referred to as “Tell Me Why (Taylor’s Version)”.

Tell Me Why

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