Taylor Swift has a successful first date in the detailed “Begin Again.”
A demure guitar opens the single, setting an apprehensive tone. She puts a loose hair back behind her ear. The last couple conversations she had with her date went really well. She hopes he’s as sweet as he been. She digs through her closet and finds a pair of black high heels. As she searches, she can hear her ex in her mind saying “those always make me feel like a shrimp.” With that one comment, he turned her favorite fashion accessory into a weapon against his ego. She thought they were cool works of art she could put on her feet. She checks to make sure the door is locked and puts the earbuds into ears. One of her favorite songs plays. Her ex hated it. He would skip over it, saying it was trying to too hard. To her, the song was using metaphor to make its point. She moves her head a little to the music and looks for an empty table. She’s startled by her date, grinning and waving towards her. He points to the table. She blushes, takes her earbuds out. She figured she had a ten minute wait. At the table, she asks him how he’s been. She moves towards the chair but he says “let me.” She tells him “thank you.” He responds that it’s not a big deal. She thinks that he doesn’t realize how many guys would have sat down and given her an impatient look. (“Took a deep breath in the mirror/He didn't like it when I wore high heels/But I do/Turn the lock and put my headphones on/He always said he didn't get this song/But I do, I do/Walked in expecting you'd be late/But you got here early and you stand and wave/I walk to you/You pull my chair out and help me in/And you don't know how nice that is/But I do.”)
In the chorus, she comments how much she loves coffee. He lets out a guffaw and says she has a way with words. Again, she tells him “thanks.” Her ex would’ve sat there, stone-faced, asking what was the punchline. His attitude so far is a complete 180 from her ex. He had such a cynical point of view of relationships. However, sitting next to her date, she finds herself falling all over again. (“And you throw your head back laughing/
Like a little kid/I think it's strange that you think I'm funny cause/He never did/I've been spending the last 8 months/Thinking all love ever does/Is break and burn and end/But on a Wednesday in a café/I watched it begin again.”)
She tells him she grew up listening to James Taylor. Her mom would put his records on nonstop. She would always ask her to play the Mud Slide Slim album. He exclaims that he really likes that one, too and asks her what she thinks of his newer albums. She doesn’t answer at first , then says she’s just nervous and he tells her it’s ok. It’s eight months since she had any hope of meeting someone she really liked again. (“You said you never met one girl who/Had as many James Taylor records as you/But I do/We tell stories and you don't know why/I'm coming off a little shy/But I do.”)
The chorus is sung again.
In the bridge, he walks to her car. She thinks she should explain. She opens her mouth to apologize, saying her ex didn’t like emotions. However, he asks her what’s she planning to do on Christmas. She responds that she’ll go over to her parents house and have a huge turkey and she’ll chop the head off the the cute, tiny lamb of butter. It’s a tradition in her family. He begins to talk about their family’s tradition, which is picking out their favorite holidays movies. He always picks Home Alone 2. She says she’s remebering watching it when she was a kid. She has stopped thinking about her ex entirely. It doesn’t matter to her anymore. (“And we walked down the block, to my car/And I almost brought him up/But you start to talk about the movies/That your family watches every single Christmas/And I want to talk about that/And for the first time/What's past is past.”)
The chorus is sung again.
Part of the chorus ends the single. (“But on a Wednesday in a café/I watched it begin again.”)
Swift’s introspective vocals share her realistic inner monologue during the date. She adjusts to being treated well for the first time. Every boyfriend she has had thinks of himself first. It’s human nature to compare ex significant others to the current person. When it’s a change towards the better, it’s even tougher. It’s relearning social cues all over again, which is the situation she finds herself.
The natural “Begin Again” puts everyone right at the table, with the clinking glasses and chatter in the background edited out.