This song is timeless, and nearly 20 years after its creation, still possesses the mystique it did the first time i heard it ~1994. To me, at first blush, all those years ago, it had some kind of homo-erotic allure. The line "so that the others may do" tells of something which must be done for others to follow suit. It felt like like some kind of roxy-glam-pop invitation to sexual liberation. Upon further introspection I think the song may not have an intrinsic meaning, but simply represents a sort of "holding open the door" for people who otherwise might be affronted by this song/band's unusual style. I know, as a sort of armchair rock-historian, that there have been few bands so daring and so true to the sound that wanted to emerge from within, whether the creator wanted it or not. This band handled it with elegance and grace seldom, if ever, seen.
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This song is Swift's response to the negative reputation the media has given her. "I can make the bad guys good for a weekend" - the bad guys are the paparazzi to Swift, but are good to the "player" since association with Swift immediately gives publicity. Any publicity is good publicity and Swift knows this. "You can tell me when it's over" - the tabloids rumor relationships are over before the couple announces it officially. With this song Swift is portraying the way she is portrayed by the media. It is a sarcastic jab at how she views herself and how her "ex-lovers" only wanted to be with her to increase their fame. I applaud the brilliance in writing about how you always write about relationships. It is expected so Swift is giving the media what they want and profiting off the attention.
The man has pseudo-friends who constantly criticize his actions. They moralize him, "teach" him and advise him to make a significant change in his life, because the way he is and what he does is not what they say it should be. They may find his life lame or immoral. They hold themselves up as role models. The man replies that he will make his own choices and decisions and he does not agree to unconditionally make himself under the influence of questionable quality advice. He justifies this by saying that there is always someone for whom he will be important, no matter what he does and no matter what he is. Although it is not said directly, I read it as meaning that he will always be important to himself in every way and he will always have his own support. "Everyone is different and maybe that's a good thing, but you exceeded that mark 1000 times" - I remember very well how sad the words I once heard (from my peers and it was in negative context) at school made me feel.
Matt Shadows their lead singer says the song was written as per request from the developers of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Watching the initial trailers for the game & looking at production sketches reminded him of the 'S-Town' podcast & its main protagonist, John B. McLemore. Matt also comments specifically on the lyrics: "I decided that the lyrics would shadow McLemore's life." In 2012, antiquarian horologist John B. McLemore sent an email to the staff of the show 'This American Life' asking them to investigate an alleged murder in his hometown of Woodstock, Alabama, a place McLemore claimed to despise. After a year of exchanging emails & several months of conversation with McLemore, producer Brian Reed traveled to Woodstock to investigate. Reed investigated the crime & eventually found that no such murder took place, though he struck up a friendship with the depressed but colorful character of McLemore. He recorded conversations with McLemore & other people in Woodstock. McLemore killed himself by drinking potassium cyanide on June 22, 2015 while the podcast was still in production. In the narrative of the podcast, this occurs at the end of the second episode; subsequent episodes deal with the fallout from McLemore's death while exploring more of McLemore's life & character.
This standalone single by Lauv marks the end of the year 2020. The track was produced by Jamil “Digi” Chammas & Lauv, being released via major streaming platforms on December 31, 2020.