A Travel Guide to Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’: From 16th Avenue to Cornelia Street and Everywhere in Between
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, by now you’re well aware that Taylor Swift has finally released her long-awaited seventh studio album, Lover. The impressive 18-track masterpiece has garnered praise from fans and critics alike, and has already shattered a slew of records, including breaking the 2019 record for most first-week album sales in just 24 hours.
Thanks to a legion of ferociously loyal fans known as “Swifties” (myself included) and a strategic promotional campaign chock-full of intimate interviews, live performances, clever merchandise bundles, exclusive deluxe versions, and social media synergies, Swift has proven once again that she’s not only one of the music industry’s savviest businesswomen, but also an undeniable pop culture icon.
Following the darker themes explored in her 2017 album, Reputation, this time around, Swift has embraced a new chapter, marked by pastel-hued dreamscapes and the ability to reflect on the past with a mature, refreshed perspective ― allegedly inspired by her current three-year romance with British actor and current boyfriend Joe Alwyn. As she triumphantly declares in the outro of “Daylight,” Lover’s final track, “I wanna be defined by the things that I love, not the things I hate.”
Of the various motifs woven throughout the album, specific locations are frequently mentioned or alluded to within many of the songs (all of which were written or co-written by Swift). No matter which track you like best, there’s a destination that complements the lyrics or sonic vibe for each. Here, we match every song from Lover to some of our favorite places scattered across the globe. So play the CD, turn up the volume, and find out where you should travel next based on your favorite track from Lover.
I Forgot That You Existed
Destination: San Francisco, California
Why: On “I Forgot That You Existed,” Swift unapologetically takes listeners on a journey to explain that even though she thought a breakup was going to crush her (rumored to be about previous beau Calvin Harris), she was inevitably able move on. Petty? A bit, but we’ve all been there. Laid-back San Francisco perfectly fits the carefree energy of the summer jam, and with its iconic attractions and dynamic culinary scene, it offers an idyllic escape to clear your head and finally get over an ex.
Key Lyrics: “But then something happened one magical night / I forgot that you existed / And I thought that it would kill me, but it didn't / And it was so nice / So peaceful and quiet / I forgot that you existed”
Destination: Miami Beach, Florida
Why: Co-written with Jack Antonoff and St. Vincent, “Cruel Summer” is a massive production that captures the whirlwind of raw emotion that comes with any new romance ― whether its doomed from the start or destined to be. The song is sultry and seductive, radiating a frenetic energy that’s shared with the hedonistic lures of Miami Beach (not to mention the cruel, sweltering summers of the Sunshine State).
Key Lyrics: “It's cool / That's what I tell 'em, no rules / Unbreakable heaven but / Ooh, whoa oh / It's a cruel summer / With you”
Destination: Paris, France
Why: An immediate first dance wedding song staple, the album’s title track was also one of the pre-released songs selected to build hype ahead of Lover’s debut. The spellbinding waltz is teeming with the starry-eyed wonderment and hopeful romanticism famously captured by Paris, appropriately nicknamed “the City of Love.”
Key Lyrics: “Can I go where you go? / Can we always be this close forever and ever? / And ah, take me out, and take me home (forever and ever) / You're my, my, my, my lover”
Destination: Stockholm, Sweden
Why: In “The Man,” Swift leverages brutal honesty and sarcastic humor to take a cutting look at how her life and career would be interpreted differently if coded sexism wasn’t such a prevalent force in the music industry and society in general. The fast-paced feminist anthem tears down double-standards with confidence, much like the city of Stockholm. Known for being a banking capital, equal rights play a prominent role in the fabric of Sweden’s social and political landscapes, where men and women enjoy equal job opportunities and nearly half of the population identifies as feminists.
Key Lyrics: “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can / Wondering if I'd get there quicker if I was a man / And I'm so sick of them coming at me again / 'Cause if I was a man, then I'd be the man I'd be the man”
Destination: Scottish Highlands
Why: As any Swiftie knows, track five is always one of Swift’s most vulnerable and personal songs on any given album, and “The Archer” seems to follow the formula. The pensive work is a self-reflective meditation over previous relationships wrapped up in an ethereal tapestry akin to the dramatic scenes painted across the Scottish Highlands. Plus, Scotland is also home to Merida, the famous bow and arrow-wielding Disney princess from Brave.
Key Lyrics: “I've been the archer / I've been the prey / Screaming, who could ever leave me, darling? / But who could stay?”
I Think He Knows
Destination: Nashville, Tennessee
Why: “I Think He Knows” is laced with finger snaps, tongue-in-cheek lyrics, and a groovy chorus that effortlessly conjures the feelings of young love, replete with sexual tension and tantalizing frustration. Swift also mentions “skipping down 16th Avenue,” a likely callback to her younger years spent honing her craft along Nashville’s legendary Music Row, which is exactly where you should visit if this song speaks to you.
Key Lyrics: “He got my heartbeat / Skipping down 16th Avenue / Got that, oh! I mean / Wanna see what's under that attitude / Like, I want you, bless my soul / And I ain't gotta tell him / I think he knows / I think he knows”
Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince
Destination: Middle America
Why: With mentions of homecoming queens, marching bands, and hallway whispers, Swift taps into the same worlds featured on previous hits like “Shake It Off” and “You Belong With Me.” This time, however, she uses sonic devices that feel reminiscent of a Lana Del Rey single. The ominous tone is paired with thinly-veiled, politically-infused messages that seem to take a critical look at fractured realities playing out in communities across the country. The somber imagery conveyed feels as if it can relate to any small town speckled throughout Middle America.
Key Lyrics: “American stories burning before me / I'm feeling helpless, the damsels are depressed / Boys will be boys then, where are the wise men? / Darling, I'm scared”
Destination: Las Vegas, Nevada
Why: Unabashedly optimistic, this happy-go-lucky, clap-along tune particularly excels at demonstrating Swift’s ability to blend retro vibes with bubblegum pop, neatly tied together with an expertly crafted and relatable narrative. The certified bop showcases the dazzling, dizzying energy of falling in love, and all of the crazy things it makes us do. It’s the perfect track to accompany a spur-of-the-moment ceremony at one of Las Vegas’ countless wedding chapels where anything goes.
Key Lyrics: “I like shiny things, but I'd marry you with paper rings / Uh huh, that's right / Darling, you're the one I want, and / I hate accidents except when we went from friends to this / Uh huh, that's right / Darling, you're the one I want”
Destination: New York, New York
Why: If you’ve ever been tormented by the thought of losing the one you love, then “Cornelia Street” will certainly strike a chord. During the intensely intimate track, Swift admits that if her relationship ever ended, she could never walk Cornelia Street again ― likely about Alwyn, who she allegedly met while renting a place on Cornelia Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village. A copycat trip to Manhattan seems fitting, where fans have been flocking to see the spot that inspired this fan favorite.
Key Lyrics: “And I hope I never lose you, hope it never ends / I'd never walk Cornelia Street again / That's the kinda heartbreak time could never mend / I'd never walk Cornelia Street again”
Death by a Thousand Cuts
Destination: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Why: Although Swift confirmed that the song was inspired by the Netflix movie "Someone Great" (which takes place between New York City and San Francisco), the mood of “Death by a Thousand Cuts” is best embodied by Buenos Aires. Argentina’s capital city is beautiful by any measure, but there’s also an air of romantic melancholy that wafts through its cobbled streets, which are still lined with Belle Époque buildings that allude to a bygone, glamorous era when it was one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
Key Lyrics: “I look through the windows of this love / Even though we boarded them up / Chandelier still flickering here / 'Cause I can't pretend it's okay when it's not / It's death by a thousand cuts”
Destination: London, England
Why: Another ode to Alwyn, “London Boy” is dripping with cheeky British references and shout-outs to neighborhoods like Highgate, Brixton, Shoreditch, and Hackney, among others. The feel-good ditty would serve as the perfect soundtrack during a visit to “The Big Smoke” while spending your days sightseeing, sipping high tea, and trying to spot the royals.
Key Lyrics: “You know I love a London boy / I enjoy walking Camden Market in the afternoon / He likes my American smile, like a child when our eyes meet / Darling, I fancy you”
Soon You’ll Get Better (featuring The Dixie Chicks)
Destination: Wherever you call home
Why: Arguably one of the most heart-wrenching songs of Swift’s entire catalog, this one is speculated to be about her mother, Andrea Swift, who is once again fighting the battle against cancer. The devastating lyrics include a desperate plea for her mother’s recovery and offers a stunningly raw but touching ballad that anyone who has experienced a similar circumstance will find comfort in. Sometimes, being home surrounded by family is the best medicine ― so visit home when you do get the chance, and be sure to pick up the phone and call your loved ones often.
Key Lyrics: “Holy orange bottles, each night I pray to you / Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus too / And I say to you / Ooh-ah, soon you'll get better / Ooh-ah, soon you'll get better / Ooh-ah, you'll get better soon / 'Cause you have to”
Destination: New Orleans, Louisiana
Why: This moody track opens with a smoky, sensual saxophone that continues to punctuate the slow jam through to the very end. Swift draws vivid parallels between her relationship and religious iconography that’s riddled with metaphors but feels relentlessly passionate. Anyone who has ever visited New Orleans knows how soulful the city is with its electric jazz scene and element of effortless Creole-cool, making it a perfect pair with “False God.”
Key Lyrics: “But we might just get away with it / Religion's in your lips / Even if it's a false god / We'd still worship / We might just get away with it / The altar is my hips / Even if it's a false god / We'd still worship this love”
You Need to Calm Down
Destination: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Why: For years, Swift received criticism for her silence when it came to any topic remotely political, most notably LBGTQ rights. “You Need to Calm Down” marks her loud-and-proud declaration as an ally, while the technicolor music video showcases icons like Ellen DeGeneres and RuPaul brushing off the haters and protestors. While Swift’s stance was met by inevitable disapproval by some, globetrotters can celebrate the newly-minted supporter with a trip to colorful Amsterdam. The Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001, and thanks to Amsterdam’s lenient marijuana laws, it’s a charming city where anyone (no matter how high-strung) can certainly calm down.
Key Lyrics: “You are somebody that we don't know / But you're comin' at my friends like a missile / Why are you mad? / When you could be GLAAD?”
Destination: Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Why: In “Afterglow,” Swift acknowledges her past mistakes and behaviors that led to some of her relationships falling apart. Where a previous era of her career might have seen her pointing fingers and casting blame, this track is another that demonstrates how Swift, like her fans, are growing up and learning hard life lessons along the way. For anybody feeling the need to reflect on the error of their ways, consider a restorative retreat to a tropical locale, like the Galápagos Islands.
Key Lyrics: “I lived like an island, punished you with silence / Went off like sirens, just crying / Why'd I have to break what I love so much? / It's on your face, don't walk away, I need to say / Hey / It's all me in my head / I'm the one who burned us down
ME! (featuring Brandon Urie of Panic! At The Disco)
Destination: Tokyo, Japan
Why: One of the most polarizing singles on the album, ME! is an undeniable earworm. The sugar-coated hit is brought to life with a music video that could have been dreamt up by Lisa Frank herself. With its spritely spirit, self-assured message, and cotton candy-hued vision, it seems kindred with Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood, which is known for its quirky style and colorful attractions that make it a popular destination with Japanese youngsters and tourists alike.
Key Lyrics: “But one of these things is not like the others / Like a rainbow with all of the colors / Baby doll, when it comes to a lover / I promise that you'll never find another like me-e-e-eh”
It’s Nice to Have a Friend
Destination: Phuket, Thailand
Why: Lover’s penultimate track is a sing-song tale about two parties in the midst of a blossoming friendship. Lighthearted but haunting, the tune is infectiously innocent and pure. Simple lyrics, soothing harmonies, and a steel drum that keeps the beat throughout evokes imagery of lying on the beach of some far-flung island destination (despite the fact that Swift also mentions losing a glove and sidewalks covered in snow). If a friend is what you need, plan a relaxing escape to the island of Phuket in Thailand ― after all, there’s a reason the notoriously friendly country is nicknamed the “Land of Smiles.”
Key Lyrics: “Light pink sky, up on the roof / Sun sinks down, no curfew / 20 questions, we tell the truth / You've been stressed out lately, yeah, me too / Something gave you the nerve / To touch my hand / It's nice to have a friend (Ooh) / It's nice to have a friend (Ooh)”
Destination: Gold Coast, Australia
Why: The final song of any Swift album is often a shining example of resilient positivity, looking ahead toward new horizons. “Daylight” achieves this as the album’s grand finale. The swaying ballad takes a closer look at some of her previous expectations on life and love, and indicates that she has finally found herself grounded in a happier, brighter chapter. The Gold Coast region along Australia’s eastern edge seems fitting, thanks to its warm weather and never-ending, sun-drenched shores.
Key Lyrics: “I don't wanna look at anything else now that I saw you / I don't wanna think of anything else now that I thought of you / I've been sleepin' so long in a twenty-year dark night / And now I see daylight / I only see daylight”