As I patiently wait for the release of Midnights, I thought that it would be fun to pour over Taylor Swift’s entire discography and choose what I believe are her top 10 songs for healing.
We all know that Taylor Swift has the uncanny ability to make us feel SEEN. So depending on what you’re going through, any song she’s written has potential to heal.
But it wasn’t until I sat down and examined each of her albums that I realized how many therapeutic interventions, metaphors, and lessons can be found in her music.
So, after much time and deliberation, I have chosen what I believe to be Dr. Swift’s most healing songs by selecting 1 from each of her albums, plus 1 from The Vault to make it an even 10.
Before I delve in, please keep in mind that you 1000% do not have to agree with this list!
Whatever Taylor Swift songs you think are the best for healing are totally valid. Learning to trust yourself and what works for you is an important piece of one’s healing journey.
These are simply my opinions and my interpretations of her music. Which is the great thing about art, right? You can turn it into whatever you want it to be.
My intention here is to combine my background as a psychotherapist with my love for Taylor Swift’s music and extract the overarching therapeutic themes, lyrics that resonate and give us hope, and powerful insights to help us heal.
Please, note: these songs are NOT ranked from first to last; I decided to list them chronologically with each album.
However, I do share which song I believe is the most healing of them all – read on to find out!
The Most Healing Taylor Swift Song From Each Album
1. Taylor Swift (Self Titled Album) – A Place In This World
For some reason, many of us are convinced that we will be happy once we have everything figured out. Once we’ve “made it,” or “finally arrived” at some goal or milestone.
But the reality is, many of us spend our entire lives trying to figure things out – who we are, what we want, what path to take. And oftentimes, life doesn’t go as planned!
This song is a celebration of our journey, not our destination. It helps to reassure us when we are feeling lost. And is a reminder that you don’t have to know what’s down the road; if you’re “just walkin’,” that’s really all you need to do.
I find many of the lyrics in this song to be grounding; allow me to dissect:
“Tomorrow’s just a mystery, oh yeah, but that’s okay” reminds us that life is full of uncertainty. If we can believe in our own resiliency, we’re going to be okay.
“I’m alone, on my own, and that’s all I know” is assuring us that no matter what happens in our lives, we always have ourselves to depend on.
“I’ll be strong, I’ll be wrong, oh but life goes on” is giving me courage. It’s giving me humility. And it’s giving me acceptance all at the same time.
And perhaps my favorite line is “got the sunshine, could you tell me what more do I need?”
Because it’s all about gratitude! And when we are feeling lost or hopeless in our lives, turning to nature is one of the best ways to feel grateful for something.
2. Fearless – Change
If you have ever gone through a rough patch, where everything is going wrong, and you’re worried it’s going to last forever… then this is the song for you.
The title of this song in and of itself is giving me healing vibes.
Because when we heal, we almost always go through some kind of transformation, or change. I mean, that’s why so many people turn to therapy – in an effort to change something about their lives.
The situations we find ourselves in can change. The way we feel can change. How we react to something can change. Who we are can change.
Change is the song I’ve chosen from Fearless. Because when we are in a dark place, having hope that “these things will change,” is crucial to our healing.
But let’s be honest – sometimes we find ourselves in situations we have no control over. Things happen that we cannot change.
If that’s the case, and you can’t change what’s external, you can always work towards changing what is internal.
I also want to touch on the lyric “we sing Hallelujah,” and how, even if you aren’t religious, it can serve as a reminder that we are all a part of something greater than ourselves.
The term “Hallelujah” is an expression of hope, belief, and gratitude for the good to come.
Thanks for encouraging us to keep the faith, Taylor.
3. Speak Now – Innocent
This song may or may not be about that time Kanye West disrupted Taylor Swift at the VMA’s.
But regardless of who it’s about or what it’s referencing, Innocent is the song I’ve chosen from Speak Now, because it contains surprising depth and lessons about healing.
First off, Taylor Swift imagines the person who has hurt her as a child – freely chasing fireflies, crawling into their parents’ bed, getting help when they can’t reach something. She envisions this person growing up with a wide-eyed and bushy-tailed attitude towards the world – before the “monsters caught up” to them.
The things that happen to us and how we interpret those events when we are children can have a profound impact on the way we behave as adults. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of the defense mechanisms we subconsciously create for ourselves, and how they might negatively impact our relationships with others.
If someone has hurt you, thinking about them as an innocent child, or even a baby, can help you have more compassion towards them.
Imagining what they may have been through may help you better understand why they act a certain way. You don’t have to forgive them or accept their behavior. But expanding your narrative of their situation can help you to release some of the anger or disgust you’re holding onto.
Next, I think that there is a lot of inner child healing work that can be extracted from this song, especially if you direct the lyrics towards yourself.
We all make mistakes. The way we respond to ourselves when we do is usually modeled to us by our parents or caregivers.
If forgiving yourself or learning to accept yourself is difficult, it may be because you were never taught how to do so growing up.
But the good news is, you can start to let go and heal by learning to speak to yourself with loving kindness and compassion NOW. Which is what this song does when it tells us:
“Your string of lights is still bright to me.”
“Who you are is not what you did.”
“Today is never too late to be brand new.”
Hearing these statements can help you engage in more positive self-talk when you’ve done something wrong and ultimately help you to reparent yourself.
Now that is what I would call healing.
4. Red – Begin Again
So, full transparency – the song I chose to highlight from Red is technically about learning to fall in love. So yes, it can be healing because it reminds us that when one chapter in our life comes to a close, a new chapter can start to begin again.
But wait! There’s more!
I want to share a little technique that I myself use when I hear songs about “romantic love,” but the context isn’t really resonating for me in the moment. Which is to get creative and expand upon what the subject could be about.
And one of the most powerful reframes you can make when listening to a love song is to direct it towards yourself (MIND.BLOWN.)!
So, when I listen to Begin Again, I feel hope emerge as I go on a date. I imagine being treated with respect and kindness. I envision myself experiencing a beautiful connection. And simply enjoying my time.
So why not use that imagery and apply it to yourself!? Find hope and inspiration by taking yourself on a date! Treat yourself with kindness and respect! Create a beautiful connection to yourself! And learn to enjoy your time, with yourself (!!!).
And remember that “it” from the line “on a Wednesday, in a cafe, I watched it begin again” can be about anything you want it to be.
So if “it” isn’t about romantic love right now, “it” can still be about those things you are looking for from a partner. Like interest in your life, deep compassion and understanding, and yes, even love. But instead, you can be the one to give those things to yourself.
Don’t forget that every day, every moment, is an opportunity to begin again.
And if you are disappointed that I didn’t choose All Too Well for this one, don’t worry. I got you. Because I actually dedicated an entire post to how that song can help you process and move on from a breakup. Check it out here.
5. 1989 – Clean
Giving ourselves space to feel what’s real for us is one of the most important components to healing.
When we let ourselves feel our feelings, we can then start to examine them, and figure out how to cleanse ourselves of any thoughts, beliefs, or situations that aren’t serving us.
This song could be about a lot of different situations – like cleansing yourself of addiction and substance use.
There are elements of healing from a breakup and cleansing yourself of that person.
It can also be about trying to heal from a traumatic experience by feeling clean again.
But if there is one common thread woven throughout this song’s lyrics, I think it would be the healing power of letting yourself cry.
When I hear “rain came pouring down,” I think about tears pouring down someone’s face.
And the line “when I was drowning, that’s when I could finally breathe,” makes me think about surrendering to your emotions and letting yourself experience them. Because even if they seem suffocating, we have to go through them before we can truly release them.
And did you know that when you cry, you are releasing oxytocin and endorphins – chemicals that relieve pain!
So try it out. If you’re feeling sad, angry, frustrated – all of the above, give yourself time to cry.
Crying is not a weakness. Or something to be ashamed of. It can be used as a cathartic release. And a way to cleanse your heart, your mind, and your soul.
6. Reputation – Call It What You Want
When we lose or fail at something, it isn’t just the failure itself that makes us feel embarrassed or ashamed. It’s the worry about what others will think of us when we do lose or fail.
The song I’ve chosen from Reputation is a song about admitting defeat. It’s a song about failing.
But it’s also a song about focusing on the good things happening in your life.
And about finding a source of comfort when you need it most.
And, this song is about recognizing your own worth regardless of what others may think.
And I know that this song is technically about having a love in your life who “built a fire just to keep you warm” and all that jazz.
And there is no doubt that having a partner you can trust, depend on, and turn to when you’re going through a tough time, is incredibly therapeutic.
But if you don’t currently have that, you can still glean healing from this song by directing the lyrics towards any source of comfort in your life (like a cat, perhaps?).
Or, even better, like I mention above, turn this song into a self-love song. Think of yourself as being “fly as a jet stream, high above the whole scene, loving yourself like you’re brand new.”
YOU CAN BUILD YOUR OWN FIRE TO KEEP YOURSELF WARM.
Becoming the source of comfort and light in your own life? Call it what you want to, but I would call it healing.
7. Lover – Daylight
So we have finally landed on it – the song that, for me, takes the #1 spot as the most healing Taylor Swift song of all time.
And that is because this song is a retelling of A Dark Night Of The Soul and the subsequent emergence from it.
A Dark Night Of The Soul is exactly what it sounds like – a very grim, difficult, emotionally painful period in one’s life. Everything you think you know about yourself and what your life is supposed to be like crumbles.
When you’re in it, it SUCKS. You feel depressed. You could feel physically ill. You’ll feel like nothing is going your way and nothing is within your control.
You’re forced to deconstruct your entire belief system.
But if you can figure out how to surrender to the experience, accept it in some shape or form, and open yourself up to creating meaning out of it, it can become an opportunity for tremendous growth and healing.
Let’s backtrack for a moment, to the infamous lyric from Look What You Made Me Do:
“I’m sorry, but the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh! Cause she’s dead.”
This line is evidence that Dr. Swift herself went through some kind of Dark Night Of The Soul.
Because this is exactly what happens when you’re in the midst of one. An old version of yourself dies. Who you are changes. And it’s very emotionally exhausting and painful.
But when that old version of yourself dies, the ego can finally dissolve. And you can then find your way back to Your Self. A more pure, light-filled version of you. Your True Self.
I myself went through my own Dark Night Of The Soul. It lasted about 2 years, and I can confidently say that I am no longer the person that I once was. Going through it forced me to become the person I am today. It was not easy, but it had to happen, and I’m grateful for the meaning I created out of the experience.
So many of the lyrics from this song describe what that kind of deep transformation can feel like:
“Been sleeping so long in a 20-year dark night, and now I see daylight” is about emerging from that dark period and finally seeing the light – the joy, the hope, and all of the positive moments life can bring.
I interpret “I don’t wanna look at anything else now that I saw you,” as glimpsing Your True Self – that version of you who is filled with light and love. And knowing that once you access that part of you, things will never be the same.
And of course, that last line “I wanna be defined by the things that I love. Not the things, I hate. That I’m afraid of – afraid of. That haunt me in the middle of the night. I – I just think that – you are what you love.”
Talk about a reframe! If that message isn’t healing, then I don’t know what is.
8. Folklore – This Is Me Trying
To be honest, I didn’t really see this song as being that therapeutic until I watched The Long Pond Studio Sessions documentary and Taylor Swift explains what it is about.
But once she did, I mean, WOW. This song is like a therapy session incarnate. She even references someone going to therapy with the line “pouring out my heart to a stranger, but I didn’t pour the whiskey.”
The theme of this song is so important for our own healing. And also if we want to support others who are on their own healing journeys.
Because it acknowledges that most of us are doing the best that we can with the knowledge that we have. And that even if it seems like someone is doing the bare minimum, or even if you yourself feel like you aren’t doing enough, the likelihood is that you are trying.
So if you’re feeling depressed, and all you do is get out of bed for 5 minutes to take a shower, at least you’re trying.
Or if you’ve applied to hundreds of jobs and haven’t been able to get that interview yet, you are still trying.
And look, sometimes we try. We try really hard. And we still don’t get the results we want. This song does a really good job of validating the hopelessness one can feel when the trying isn’t working.
And it reminds us that sometimes, there is no easy solution. There is no quick fix. And that holding space for someone who is going through a hard time is what is often most healing.
9. Evermore – Happiness
Holding space for contradictory feelings is a difficult concept to put into practice, but an important one to take if you want to move forward on your healing journey.
And if you listen closely to the song I chose from Evermore, you might experience the push and pull of having many conflicting thoughts and emotions exist all at the same time.
There is a sense of peace that resides along with deep sadness:
“Honey when I’m above the trees, I see it for what it is. But now my eyes leak acid rain on the pillow where you used to lay your head.”
There is wanting to hold on, while also wanting to let go:
“I would have loved you for a lifetime, leave it all behind.”
And, we are reminded to be honest about how we feel in the moment, while also keeping in mind that those feelings have potential to evolve over time:
“All you want from me now is the green light of forgiveness. I haven’t met the new me yet, but I think she’ll give you that.”
And I think if this song does anything, it expands our perspective on what happiness can look like:
“There’ll be happiness after you. There was happiness because of you. Both of these things can be true. There is happiness.”
And she’s right – there is happiness.
10. From The Vault – Ronan
I could probably count on 1 hand how many times I’ve actually listened to this song, and that’s because it’s just so incredibly sad.
This is a song about grief. It’s a song about remembering someone who is gone. And it doesn’t sugarcoat what it’s like to lose someone.
For those of you who don’t know, Taylor Swift wrote this song after discovering Rockstar Ronan, a blog created by Maya Thompson, that documented her 3-year-old son’s fight with cancer.
Taylor Swift took excerpts from the blog, used them as lyrics, and credited Maya Thompson as a songwriter. All of the proceeds from sales of this single went to charities fighting cancer.
Before I delve in deeper, please know that when it comes to grief, there really is no right or wrong way to heal or move through it.
But what Taylor Swift does in this song, is really the only thing we have control over when someone has died, which is to remember them.
Remembering helps us to process our emotions.
It helps us understand how the loss has changed us.
Remembering is a way to honor our loved one, and keep their memory alive inside of us.
And remembering is an expression of the love that still exists inside of you.
I have to admit, I’m getting teary-eyed as I type this out.
But if you’re trying to access suppressed emotions and have a good cry, this is the song song for you.
So tell me – how did I do?
Do you feel healed in some way when you listen to Taylor Swift? If so, how? What other Taylor Swift songs have helped you on your own healing journey? I would LOVE to hear what songs resonate most for you.
And when Midnights is released, you better believe I’ll be doing some kind of post about it. Sign up here if you’d like to be notified!