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The Lost Boys Chapter of Her Life: Fear of Aging in Never Grow Up

The Basics: 

Taylor Swift sings to a young child who thinks everything is funny and who has no regrets. By the second verse, the child is fourteen and embarrassed by her mother. Swift tells both versions of the child to “never grow up” and “stay this little” before describing her own loneliness and how she wishes she were still young. Or at least younger since she’s still a teenager. 

Literary Device: Parenesis 

Parenesis is a rhetorical device by which an author warns the audience of impending evil.* In this case, our chronophobic prophetess informs a baby that her life is only going to get worse from here. She will grow up to experience regret, heartbreak, desertion, loneliness, scars, and burns. 


In the first verse, Swift wishes to spare a baby from the pains that come from adult responsibilities and adult relationships. At nineteen, Swift has become world-weary. But the child’s world is quiet and full of pleasant dreams. “Everything is funny” and she has other people to “tuck [her] in, turn on [her] favorite nightlight.” By the second verse, the child is fourteen and has begun to feel the pain of human existence. The agony of being fourteen seems largely to do with a lack of independence. She is “mortified” by her mother and “there’s just so much [she can’t do.” She cannot wait to “move out someday and call [her] own shots.” 

By the third verse, Swift is singing about her own life – specifically the chilling experience of moving into her own apartment. Swift’s experience echoes the vignettes from the child’s life, but the echoes are bleak. Like the fourteen-year-old, Swift is being “dropped off’ but this time it is at a cold apartment. Like the baby, Swift requires warmth and comfort, but she has no one to provide it for her: “I tuck myself in and turn my nightlight on. The third verse has so much in common with the earlier verses that it reads as a continuation rather than a distinct story. One can imagine an even older narrator singing to her nineteen-year-old self that it is only going to get worse from here as the ceaseless progression brings even more pain and more responsibilities. However, Swift’s realization that “everything I have is someday gonna be gone” implies that there are positive aspects of each of these eras of her life. Although the phrasing emphasizes loss, it means that there is beauty in the struggle and that she will miss from the current moment. Swift will likely grow up and want to remember her first apartment and her first true taste of independence. 

Swift’s remedy is to intentionally remember. In the bridge, she instructs the child to “take pictures in your mind of your childhood room.” Most of Swift’s advice centers around remembering sounds: “Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home / Remember the footsteps, remember the words said / And all your little brother’s favorite songs.” She had also previously told the fourteen-year-old “don’t lose the way that you dance / Around in your PJs getting ready for school.” There is something significant about music and dance. Swift urges the listener to preserve the music from each era of her life – something that Swift will make a career out of. 

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1 commentaire

HappyRon Music And Inspirational Quotes
HappyRon Music And Inspirational Quotes
06 juin

Another excellent anaylsis, never heard of Parenesis, will have to add that to my bag of tricks


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