Taylor Swift – “Timeless”

Most of Taylor Swift’s “From The Vault” tracks are interesting if inessential — curiosities for diehards that either sound a little too much like Swift songs that saw a proper release or ones that are not entirely there in ways that make you understand why they were left on the cutting room floor in the first place. But “Timeless,” which closes out Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), is simply too good to have been left behind for a decade. I can almost understand the justification for not making its way onto Speak Now, which has a lot of songs that serve the same function: “Dear John,” “Back To December,” “Last Kiss” — sweeping, narrative-driven ones where all the details pile up into an emotional gut-punch.

But “Timeless” can stand with all of them. The song follows a touching, tender thread that ties in real-life love stories — that of Swift’s grandparents, who she’d later write about in “marjorie” and “epiphany” — with her more adolescent flights of fancy, like in the pre-chorus where she calls back to the Romeo & Juliet fanaticism of “Love Story.” Through all the different timelines, she keeps her eyes on the prize: a love that feels as warm and ephemeral as an old photograph, like the ones she digs up in the verses of this song. “The kind of love that you only find once in a lifetime/ The kind you don’t put down,” she sings. By the end, Swift brings us to (then) present day: “In a crowded room a few short years ago/ And sometimes there’s no proof, you just know.” Stretching from 1944 to now, it’s the sort of song that truly does feel timeless. I guess it’s fine, maybe even fitting, that it comes to us as something old made new again. —James