Taylor Swift, Cruel Summer: inside the meaning of the lyrics

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Cruel Summer is a song written by Taylor Swift and released in the album Lover, out in 2019. The song met recently a new wave of popularity because it’s featured in the series The Summer I Turned Pretty and, since the lyrics of the song can look cryptic, people is asking themselves what is the song about and what’s the meaning behind it. In this article we will provide all answers.

You can find the official audio of the song below.

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Cruel Summer: the lyrics and their meaning

In one of the recordings of Lover Secret Sessions, released when the album was out, Taylor Swift described the birth of the song in this way:

This song is one that I wrote about the feeling of a summer romance, and how often times a summer romance can be layered with all these feelings of pining away and sometimes even secrecy. It deals with the idea of being in a relationship where there’s some element of desperation and pain in it, where you’re yearning for something that you don’t quite have yet, it’s just right there, and you just can’t reach it.

In the song, the singer alternates feelings that attract her to the man she loves with doubts and negative sensations about how things can easily go wrong in love. Therefore, the verse have often two faces, or two possible interpretations. For example, on one side, Taylor Swift talks explicitely about how much she wants her man:

Killing me slow, out the window
I’m always waiting for you to be waiting below
Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes
What doesn’t kill me makes me want you more

And on the other side, every nice things has a double face and could hurt you later. This is expressed by the singer through metaphors like knives, fever dreams and enigmatic statements, like in the verse below:

[I] Said, “I’m fine,” but it wasn’t true
I don’t wanna keep secrets just to keep you
And I snuck in through the garden gate
Every night that summer just to seal my fate (Oh)
And I scream, “For whatever it’s worth
I love you, ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?”

Maintaining a love relationship is not always easy. Especially for famous people like Taylor Swift, always on the spotlight, always surrounded by magazines and journalists talking about her, unveiling her private life, attacking her. Many saw in Cruel Summer lyrics many references to the hard summers of the singer’s life, hinting to a different meaning: some years before, she went through a terrible summer with a tough feud with Kanye West, who in fact has a compilation album called Cruel Summer and released in 2012.

It’s probably not the primary inspiration for the song Cruel Summer, but it may have contributed to define part of the lyrics. In this way, behind the meaning of the song there are all the difficulties that taylor Swift always had in romantic relationships, always trying to protect the partner from the spotlight, always doing her best while her public life gets complicated. All this can give her sad feelings, and this mix of sensations became the main theme of this song.

It’s new, the shape of your body
It’s blue, the feeling I’ve got
And it’s ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer

Read other popular song lyrics meaning on Auralcrave

The complete lyrics

Fever dream high in the quiet of the night
You know that I caught it (Oh yeah, you’re right, I want it)
Bad, bad boy, shiny toy with a price
You know that I bought it (Oh yeah, you’re right, I want it)

Killing me slow, out the window
I’m always waiting for you to be waiting below
Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes
What doesn’t kill me makes me want you more

And it’s new, the shape of your body
It’s blue, the feeling I’ve got
And it’s ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer
It’s cool, that’s what I tell ’em
No rules in breakable heaven
But ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer
With you

Hang your head low in the glow of the vending machine
I’m not dying (Oh yeah, you’re right, I want it)
We say that we’ll just screw it up in these trying times
We’re not trying (Oh yeah, you’re right, I want it)

So cut the headlights, summer’s a knife
I’m always waiting for you just to cut to the bone
Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes
And if I bleed, you’ll be the last to know

Oh, it’s new, the shape of your body
It’s blue, the feeling I’ve got
And it’s ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer
It’s cool, that’s what I tell ’em
No rules in breakable heaven
But ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer
With you

I’m drunk in the back of the car
And I cried like a baby coming home from the bar (Oh)
Said, “I’m fine,” but it wasn’t true
I don’t wanna keep secrets just to keep you
And I snuck in through the garden gate
Every night that summer just to seal my fate (Oh)
And I scream, “For whatever it’s worth
I love you, ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?”
He looks up, grinning like a devil

It’s new, the shape of your body
It’s blue, the feeling I’ve got
And it’s ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer
It’s cool, that’s what I tell ’em
No rules in breakable heaven
But ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer
With you

I’m drunk in the back of the car
And I cried like a baby coming home from the bar (Oh)
Said, “I’m fine,” but it wasn’t true
I don’t wanna keep secrets just to keep you
And I snuck in through the garden gate
Every night that summer just to seal my fate (Oh)
And I scream, “For whatever it’s worth
I love you, ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?”
(Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)