Dear John, no question, but —
Look, my passionate feelings about both these songs are well-documented, but it has to be Dear John, there is not a single part of me that believes it could ever not be Dear John, and there are a few reasons. For one, it’s because I think Dear John is the Taylor Swift song. It’s because even though I can appreciate why people might find the “don’t you think i was too young” refrain cloying, I think it’s true. I think it’s true and I like that it’s uncool to say so. I was nineteen and now I know it was too young. Petty nasty unlikable whining. I think there are times when you can be all of those things when making an accusation and still, ultimately, be right. It’s because Dear John is a song about realizing that you are not willing to let the black hole of hate inside somebody else’s middle consume you no matter how much you love them.
All Too Well is a better song. All Too Well is a fantastic song. All Too Well is a song that even a staunch Taylor Swift hater could appreciate, provided that their heart were not truly as withered and dead as they choose to pretend it is. It’s smartly constructed and emotionally incisive, a crowning achievement in the marrying of the acutely specific and the universally relatable that Taylor has always been about, and it’s aching is so rooted in small moments, avoiding any impulse to spiral off into pretty histrionics pulled off a pink diary page and set to electric banjos, ready-made for a fourteen year old girl’s facebook status. It just cuts the bullshit with a dagger, yknow? Except more like a scalpel, probably, therein we have the difference between Kesha and Taylor. Sterility of weapons. But I digress.
Dear John cannot contain itself, every second of it sounds like colt legs tumbling over each other racing down a hill, shocked at their own strength, and in the end it is that wild-eyed red-faced explosions in the sky ecstasy of recovery and escape that wins out or me over All Too Well’s staid, mature self-knowledge and steely examination of time and place as intangible and inescapable at the same time. They’re two songs cut from the same cloth, though, which is basically what I was trying to get at here. All Too Well talks about pain and loss divorced from victimhood in a way that is healthy and important, a way which demonstrates growth, or whatever, but there’s simply a feral, grudge-holding corner of my brain that will never find that as satisfying as screaming out a car window into the flashes of dark sky and green lawns and shitty bars about shining like fireworks over some dickhead’s sad empty town, and I’m not even kind of sorry about it.
but also just like fuck john mayer tbh