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Meet me at Midnight: Liminal Time in Untouchable



The Basics

Taylor Swift covers a song by Luna Halo about a love interest who is distant and untouchable. Swift left the words and the chorus untouched (ha!), but rewrote the melody of the verses.

Analysis

The narrator compares her distant, unattainable love interest to the stars. She introduces her love as “untouchable, like a distant diamond sky.” During the day, stars are scary. The sun is a big, burning ball of gas that blinds you if you look directly at it. Similarly, this love interest is “untouchable, burning brighter than the sun.” She warns him “Now that you’re close I feel like coming undone.” His proximity is compared to a third degree burn that rips the skin apart.


At night, however, the stars seem more approachable because they are further away. The narrator is able to look directly at them and they are beautiful: “a million little stars spelling out your name” and offering a “little taste of heaven.” The relationship looks different at night too. During the day, the proximity of her love was painful. Now, she allows herself to fantasize about that proximity: “In the middle of the night, we can form this dream / I wanna feel you by my side, standing next to me” and croons “come on, come on” asking him to come closer. Midnight is a liminal time – the time between days when everything is quiet and we are supposed to be asleep. If we are awake, we literally see things in a different light. This relationship that is painful in the reality of the day is a pleasant fantasy when viewed from further away by a different light.


Although Taylor Swift did not write the lyrics to Untouchable, they clearly left a mark on her later work. Untouchable is the first time that the words “middle of the night” or “midnight” appear in a Taylor Swift song – words of liminality to which she will later dedicate an entire concept album.

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