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"Starlight" is the fifteenth track from American singer and songwriter Taylor Swift's fourth studio album, Red, released on October 22, 2012, through Big Machine Records. It is also the fifteenth track from her second re-recorded album, Red (Taylor's Version), released on November 12, 2021, through Republic Records.

Background[]

The song was co-produced by regular collaborator Nathan Chapman and Dann Huff, who has also worked with Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts. It was one of three tracks on Red, where Huff co-manned the boards. "I chose the artists and the producers because I like their style," Swift told USA Today. "I didn't choose them because I wanted to force my style on them; I chose them because I wanted to learn from them. So they're true collaborations, it's not just somebody else singing on one of my songs that sounds like one of my songs. It's a real mixture of the two influences."

On the album, "Starlight" comes after the Ed Sheeran collaboration, "Everything Has Changed". The song finds Swift singing about the romantic adventures of Ethel and Bobby Kennedy after coming across a photo of the pair dancing when they were teenagers. "She told The Wall Street Journal: "I get a lot of style inspiration from the 1960s, so I'll go and look at black and white pictures, and look at [photos from the] '50s and '60s, and I came across this picture of these two kids dancing at a dance. It immediately made me think of like how much fun they must have had that night. It was back in the late '40s. I ended up reading underneath that it was Ethel Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. And they were like 17. So I just kind of wrote that song from that place, not really knowing how they met or anything like that. And then her daughter Rory ended up coming to a show a couple weeks later and I told her about the song and she was like, you have to meet my mom. She would love to meet you. So that was kind of what that song was about." Ethel and Bobby are the grandparents of Conor Kennedy, whom Taylor was dating while writing for Red.

Hidden message[]

Hidden message: For Ethel.

That's Ethel Kennedy that Swift is referring to in her hidden message. The story in "Starlight" paints a picture of Mrs. Kennedy's love and marriage to Robert F. Kennedy. Swift has said multiple times how much she loves the Kennedy matriarch, and this one is obvious.

Lyrics[]

[Chorus]
I said, "Oh, my, what a marvelous tune"
It was the best night, never would forget how we moved
The whole place was dressed to the nines
And we were dancing, dancing
Like we're made of starlight
Like we're made of starlight

[Verse 1]
I met Bobby on the boardwalk, summer of '45
Picked me up, late one night at the window
We were seventeen and crazy, running wild, wild
Can't remember what song it was playing when we walked in
The night we snuck into a yacht club party
Pretending to be a duchess and a prince

[Chorus]
And I said, "Oh, my, what a marvelous tune"
It was the best night, never would forget how we moved
The whole place was dressed to the nines
And we were dancing, dancing
Like we're made of starlight, starlight
Like we're made of starlight, starlight

[Verse 2]
He said, "Look at you
Worrying so much about things you can't change
You'll spend your whole life singing the blues
If you keep thinking that way"
He was trying to skip rocks on the ocean, saying to me
"Don't you see the starlight, starlight?
Don't you dream impossible things?"

[Chorus]
Like, "Oh, my, what a marvelous tune"
It was the best night, never would forget how we moved
The whole place was dressed to the nines
And we were dancing, dancing
Like we're made of starlight, starlight
Like we're made of starlight, starlight

[Bridge]
Ooh, ooh, he's talking crazy
Ooh, ooh, dancing with me
Ooh, ooh, we could get married
Have ten kids and teach 'em how to dream

[Guitar solo]

[Chorus]
Oh, my, what a marvelous tune
It was the best night, never would forget how we moved
The whole place was dressed to the nines
And we were dancing, dancing
Like we're made of starlight, starlight
Like we're made of starlight, starlight

[Breakdown]
Like we're made of starlight, starlight
Like we dream impossible dreams
Like starlight, starlight
Like we dream impossible dreams

[Outro]
Don't you see the starlight, starlight?
Don't you dream impossible things?

Taymoji pack[]

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Critical reception[]

The song achieved generally positive reviews from music critics upon release. Critics praised the catchy tune of the song. Billboard gave it a positive review, saying "Every Swift album as of late has one danceable, fists-in-the-air love anthem ("Love Story" for Fearless, "Mine" for Speak Now) and "Starlight" fills that role for Red. Though the song talks about a period where Swift and a beau were "17 and crazy," it's hard not to think of her alleged Kennedy wedding crash from this summer when she sings, "Can't remember what song that was playing when we walked in / the night we snuck into a yacht club party / pretending to be a duchess and a prince."

About.com gave the song a rating of 3 out of 5 stars, praising its "dance-club vocals" and "snyth fills."

Live performances[]

Taylor performed her song "Starlight" during the 2012 Ripple of Hope Gala, which she wrote about Ethel Kennedy. Also spotted in the audience was her friend Dianna Agron. On that event Taylor was Honored "Ripple of Hope Award". She performed “Starlight” as a surprise song on The Eras Tour on July 15, 2023, in Denver, Colorado. "Starlight" was also performed as a surprise song as part of a mashup with "Mine" on March 2, 2024, in Singapore.

Official audio[]

"Starlight"_Song_Preview_from_RED_-_Now_Available

"Starlight" Song Preview from RED - Now Available

Starlight Song Preview by Taylor Swift

RED
"State Of Grace" • "Red" • "Treacherous" • "I Knew You Were Trouble" • "All Too Well" • "22" • "I Almost Do" • "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" • "Stay Stay Stay" • "The Last Time" • "Holy Ground" • "Sad Beautiful Tragic" • "The Lucky One" • "Everything Has Changed" • "Starlight" • "Begin Again"
Deluxe Edition
"The Moment I Knew" • "Come Back...Be Here" • "Girl At Home" • "Treacherous" (demo) • "Red" (demo)
"State Of Grace" (acoustic)
Taylor's Version
"Ronan" • "Better Man" • "Nothing New" • "Babe" • "Message In A Bottle" • "I Bet You Think About Me" • "Forever Winter" • "Run" • "The Very First Night" • "All Too Well (10 Minute Version)"
The More Red (Taylor's Version) Chapter
"Safe & Sound" • "Eyes Open"
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