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‘Sparks Fly (Taylor's Version)’ by Taylor Swift - Lyrics & Meaning

July 17, 2023 2:41 pm GMT
Last Edited December 19, 2023 10:34 pm GMT

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Taylor Swift - ‘Sparks Fly (Taylor's Version)’

Label: Republic Records & Universal Music Group

Release Date: July 7th 2023

Date Sent to Country Radio: July 18th 2011

Album: Speak Now (Taylor's Version)

Producers: Taylor Swift & Christopher Rowe

Songwriters: Taylor Swift

Chart Performance:

  • No. 1 on Billboard Hot Country Songs
  • No. 17 on Billboard Hot 100
  • No. 37 on Billboard's Year-End Hot Country Songs chart for 2011

The Background:

Following the colossal success of her sophomore album, Fearless, in 2008, Taylor Swift was at the forefront of country music and everyone was closely watching what she would do next.

For the next two years, the already heavily decorated songstress was hard at work penning what would become her third record, Speak Now. Written entirely by herself, the album arrived in 2010 with a mixture of coming-of-age tunes that exemplified her transition from adolescence to adulthood.

There was one song, however, whose story started long before Swift began writing for Speak Now.

'Sparks Fly,' the fifth single and one of two chart-toppers from the album, got an early start compared to the rest of the songs on Speak Now. Dating all the way back to 2006, the single was written even before a 16-year-old Swift released her debut, self-titled album.

Throughout the first few years of her touring career, Swift would sometimes play a version of 'Sparks Fly,' but in 2007, a video of her performing the now beloved tune found its way onto the internet. As you would expect, it quickly became a favorite among early Swifties.

Flash forward to 2010, after getting a request to sing it at CMA Fest, Swift finally decided to rework and record 'Sparks Fly', including it on her highly-anticipated third album.

The song, which was sent to country radio in July of 2011, debuted and ultimately peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and quickly sailed to No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, marking her fifth jaunt to the top. The Platinum-certified tune landed at No. 37 on the 2011 Hot Country Songs year-end chart and, as of November 2017, had sold well over a million digital copies in the United States.

Recently earning a certified "Taylor's Version" tag, 'Sparks Fly' continues to be one of the unanimous standouts on Speak Now and its inspiration is one of the Swift's songs that remains a mystery to this day.

The Sound:

Within the first few seconds of turning on 'Sparks Fly,' you can quickly tell that this isn't going to be one of your run of the mill country songs. While there are some elements of the genre's musical style included in the song, like a fiddle that seamlessly blends into the sonic landscape, 'Sparks Fly' takes up the space in between country, pop and rock.

Opening up with an instrumental section, the electric guitar leads the way as an acoustic and steady drum beat join in, all while Swift's honey-drenched vocals take center stage. As we near the first run of the chorus, everything starts to build before immediately dropping out for the song's scrumptious hook: "Drop everything now". This part of each pre-chorus is isolated so all we hear is Swift's vocals; the effect, upon first listen, is chilling.

The full band comes in hot with their uptempo, rock sound as Swift - with many layers of vocals and harmony accompanying her - delivers the punchy and easily singable chorus.

Throughout the bridge, all of the instrumentation comes together in short, on-beat bursts that create an urgent feeling as we build toward the climax. Then, before we know it, everything falls away, as Swift delivers the silver bullet: "I'm captivated by you, baby, like a fireworks show". Sung with goosebump-inducing intimacy, the band slowly brings it all back together for the last run of the chorus, kicking the roof off of every venue this song has been played in.

The 2010 version of 'Sparks Fly,' as with the entirety of Speak Now, was produced by Swift and Nathan Chapman, who were the masterminds behind Swift's first five albums. The newly-released 'Taylor's Version' finds Swift behind the soundboard with Christopher Rowe, whose hand has been on all three of her re-recorded projects.

As we've noticed throughout all of our deep dives into Speak Now (Taylor's Version), there aren't many notable differences between the 2010 and 2023 versions of 'Sparks Fly', apart from Swift's vocal quality.

'Taylor's Version' of the tune obviously features a more mature, 32-year-old's voice behind the songs. However, there is something to be said about the 21-year-old Swift's vocal delivery, which had a profoundly raw quality that sold the emotions behind the songs with ease. Whereas the 2023 version could come off a little too polished and without much of the same conviction as the original.

The Meaning:

"The way you move is like a full on rainstorm
And I'm a house of cards
You're the kind of reckless that should send me running
But I kinda know that I won't get far

And you stood there in front of me just
Close enough to touch
Close enough to hope you couldn't see
What I was thinking of"

Swift compares the guy who's struck her fancy to a rainstorm in the way that he's untamable and his effect on her is powerful, especially since she's likened herself to a flimsy house of cards.

In the original lyrics, the next couplet of lines said, "You say my name for the first time, baby / And I fall in love in an empty bar". The recorded lyrics, explaining that try as she might she knows that this boy will have a death grip on her heart, come off much more refined than the original.

As we head into the pre-chorus, she sets everything up to reveal where she can see this relationship going, but makes a subtle point of not wanting him to know what she's thinking.

"Drop everything now
Meet me in the pouring rain
Kiss me on the sidewalk
Take away the pain
'Cause I see sparks fly, whenever you smile

Get me with those green eyes, baby
As the lights go down
Gimme something that'll haunt me when you're not around
'Cause I see sparks fly, whenever you smile"

Starting with the aforementioned isolated hook, the chorus reads like a request, namely that this guy, who we soon find out has a set of piercing green eyes, would drop everything and meet her, even (and maybe especially if) it's in the pouring rain. She makes mention of a kiss, which is usually when we hear about fireworks, but for Swift, sparks fly when he smiles.

It's also worth mentioning that this wasn't the first reference to rain-drenched love from Swift. In fact, throughout her Fearless album, it was a bit of a theme with songs like 'Fearless,' 'Forever & Always' and 'Hey Stephen' making similar remarks.

Though the verses changed from 2006 to 2010, our mighty chorus was left untouched and for that we say thank you.

"My mind forgets to remind me you're a bad idea
You touch me once and it's really something
You find I'm even better than you imagined I would be
I'm on my guard for the rest of the world
But with you, I know it's no good
And I could wait patiently
But I really wish you would"

In the second verse, we get our first red flag about this pair of lovers as Swift directly shares that he's a "bad idea". They touch once and its like the waves are instantly crashing over them, and though she has walls up around everyone else, this boy knocks them down without breaking a sweat.

In contrast to the first pre-chorus where she said she hoped he couldn't read her mind, Swift mentions that she can't wait any longer for their moment to arrive and for this guy to make his move.

This entire second verse is almost completely different from the original which read, "So reach out open handed and lead me out to that floor / I don’t need more paper lanterns, take me down / Baby, bring on the movie score / ‘Cause my heart is beating fast and you are beautiful / I could wait patiently, but I really wish you would".

As we're beginning to see, the original lyrics are centering around one night in particular whereas the new lyrics are more broad.

"I run my fingers through your hair
And watch the lights go wild
Just keep on keeping your eyes on me
It's just wrong enough to make it feel right
And lead me up the staircase
Won't you whisper soft and slow
I'm captivated by you, baby
Like a fireworks show"

After taking us through the chorus again, we arrive at the bridge and suddenly all of the pieces are falling into place for listeners as we find red flag number two. Up until this point, the song has just sounded like an unrequited love story that's typical of Taylor Swift's prior tunes.

But then we get the line that says "it's just wrong enough to make it feel right." Now, rather than it being a sweet song of love that could be, it's carrying the energy of a dangerous love affair and things are about to get taken a step further as he takes her upstairs and tells her just how entranced he is by her.

It's worth noting that the original lyrics are even more suggestive, saying "I run my fingers through your hair and watch the lights go wild / Just keep your beautiful eyes on me, gonna strike this match tonight / And lead me up the staircase, won’t you whisper soft and slow, / 'I’d love to hate it, but you make it like a firework show.'"

It would seem our rocking little love song isn't as innocent as we might've thought... but we're here for it.

"Drop everything now
Meet me in the pouring rain
Kiss me on the sidewalk
Take away the pain
'Cause I see sparks fly whenever you smile"

What has Taylor Swift said about ‘Sparks Fly’?

Back in 2010 when she was prepping for the release of Speak Now, Swift had a bit to say about 'Sparks Fly,' including in a statement to accompany the album announcement that read: "'Sparks Fly' is about falling for someone that you maybe shouldn't fall for, but you can‘t stop yourself because there's such a connection, there's such chemistry".

She added, "This is a song that I wrote a few years ago and had been working on it ever since in the last two years and just honing in on little lyrics and changing them, so it's really been awesome to see it change over the years."

Similarly, in a YouTube Presents interview on her channel, Swift explained that 'Sparks Fly,' which was originally written when she was 16, actually showed her that old, discarded songs can sometimes have a second life where you least expect it.

“I played [the original song] a few times, and it got on the internet. When I was putting together the Speak Now album, the fans just kept saying over and over again that they wanted ‘Sparks Fly’ to be on the record,” she shared. “I went back and I revisited it, and I kind of rewrote some things and updated it. We put it out as a single and it [was] one of the fastest-rising songs we had on the record. It kind of taught me a lesson about [old songs] possibly being good enough to put on new projects.”

One thing that Swift has famously never shared, though, is just who 'Sparks Fly' was written about. While nothing has been confirmed, Swifties have done their due diligence. After years of scouring the internet, the most supported theory is that 'Sparks Fly' is about none other than country's own... Jake Owen.

If we travel back in time to 2006, a young Swift opened up for Mr. 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night' in Portland, Oregon at a little bar called Duke's. After finding that the phrase "Portland, Oregon" was spelled out in code in Speak Now's liner notes, eager fans dug up one of Swift's Myspace posts from October 2006 and starting putting the pieces together.

The post reads, "Tonight was awesome. It was a show in Portland at a bar called Duke’s, I opened up for Jake Owen. And a little back-story, I’ve had his album on repeat for the past couple of months.” An excited Swift continued, “I got to walk in on his soundcheck and meet him. Turns out he’s extremely cool, and had bought my album on iTunes. And since I had to leave after one song of his set, he played my favorite song '8 Second Ride' first. Which is another reason why he’s awesome."

Seeing as some of the original lyrics to 'Sparks Fly' reference falling in love in an empty bar, it wasn't much of a stretch for Swifties to make some connections, but overall we think it seems a little unrealistic for this to be the case.

In interviews from 2010, Swift has admitted that the song was written about a fantasy and not an experience that she actually had, so do with that what you will!

For the full lyrics to Taylor Swift’s ‘Sparks Fly (Taylor's Version)’, see below:

"The way you move is like a full on rainstorm
And I'm a house of cards
You're the kind of reckless that should send me running
But I kinda know that I won't get far

And you stood there in front of me just
Close enough to touch
Close enough to hope you couldn't see
What I was thinking of

Drop everything now
Meet me in the pouring rain
Kiss me on the sidewalk
Take away the pain
'Cause I see sparks fly, whenever you smile

Get me with those green eyes, baby
As the lights go down
Gimme something that'll haunt me when you're not around
'Cause I see sparks fly, whenever you smile

My mind forgets to remind me you're a bad idea
You touch me once and it's really something
You find I'm even better than you imagined I would be
I'm on my guard for the rest of the world
But with you, I know it's no good
And I could wait patiently
But I really wish you would

Drop everything now
Meet me in the pouring rain
Kiss me on the sidewalk
Take away the pain
'Cause I see sparks fly, whenever you smile

Get me with those green eyes, baby
As the lights go down
Gimme something that'll haunt me when you're not around
'Cause I see sparks fly, whenever you smile

I run my fingers through your hair
And watch the lights go wild
Just keep on keeping your eyes on me
It's just wrong enough to make it feel right
And lead me up the staircase
Won't you whisper soft and slow
I'm captivated by you, baby
Like a fireworks show

Drop everything now
Meet me in the pouring rain
Kiss me on the sidewalk
Take away the pain
'Cause I see sparks fly whenever you smile

Get me with those green eyes, baby
As the lights go down
Gimme something that'll haunt me when you're not around
'Cause I see sparks fly, whenever you smile

And the sparks fly, oh, baby, smile
And the sparks fly"

For more on Taylor Swift, see below:

Written by Lydia Farthing
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