Meaning Behind “Maroon” By Taylor Swift, Explored

Maroon is one of the new songs found on Taylor Swift’s 2023 album Midnights. Since its release, fans have been wondering what this song is about, so keep reading as we dive into the meaning of Maroon by Taylor Swift, explained. 


Maroon can be found on Midnights, and Jack Antonoff helped her produce and write this track as well as other songs on the album.

April 29, 2016 – Western concert flute Yamaha. Image source: Petar Milošević, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are several instruments found in this track including bass guitar, percussion, piano, electric guitar, saxophone, flute, organ, clarinet, and the modular synth. Coming in at three minutes and 38 seconds, this song features trap beats while maintaining a pop sound full of synth and dream while the drums and reverb are heard throughout the song. 

Before Midnights was released, Swift announced Maroon would be the second track on the album. The album would be released one month later on October 21, 2022. 

Maroon Lyrics 

June 25, 2020 – Maroon red painted moderately worn chipped rough aged damaged seamless metal sheet texture. Image source: Sisters.seamless, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The lyrics of Maroon are similar to that of the songs on her Red album. Maroon is a darker red so the thought is that where there used to be love, there is now anger or hate or an ending to the love that existed. 

The beginning of Maroon starts with “When the morning came, We were cleaning incense off your vinyl shelf,” which could be referring to a record collection the guy used to have. 

She goes on to talk about “The burgundy on my T-shirt, When you splashed your wine into me,” which seems to be inferring some volatile times in the relationship with the guy, where things may have gotten a little out of hand. 

March 16, 2020 – Old rotary phone. Image source: Hari mei harso, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Further in the track, she mentions “The mark they saw on my collarbone, The rust that grew between the telephones,” which possibly implies a physical altercation between her and her previous boyfriend. 

The telephone rust could be a nod to it being a long-distance relationship or how touring might have led to them being apart more often than not and less interaction between them on the phone as they began to drift apart. 

So What Or Who Is The Song About? 

March 11, 2011 – Jake Gyllenhaal at the SXSW Festival. Image source: kris krüg, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While it’s not known exactly who Maroon is about, some say it’s about Jake Gyllenhaal, while others disagree. However, it’s clear the track is about the ending of a relationship where Swift is reflecting on the memories she had with this guy, both the good and the bad. 

Specifically, she is using the color maroon to signify the love and hate that came with this particular relationship. There is also the thought that the song is simply looking at the relationship with more maturity than before when she wrote about it on Red. 

Unknown – Red wine glass in a restaurant. Image source: Paolo Neo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

For example, when she talks about the red wine leaving stains on her burgundy shirt, this is a metaphor for their relationship and how she felt a lot of turmoil as it all fell apart. It could be her acknowledging altercations between the two of them as well, depending on how you interpret this lyric. 

When you look at the bridge of it, you get the feeling that everything has changed, and this is where Swift seems adamant about moving on but is going to remember the time the two had together but in a more mature and adult fashion. 

Some fans were speculating that it was about her and Harry Styles. On her 1989 album, a track called Clean was thought to be about him. In this song, she mentioned a dress that was stained with wine that she could no longer wear. It would match with the lyrics in it mentioning the T-shirt that had wine thrown onto it. 

April 13, 2012 – Harry Styles performs at Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park, Sydney, Australia 2012. Eva Rinaldi, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another reason why fans think this track is about Styles is the fact he lived in England, so their relationship was more long-distance than any other, and the line about rust growing between the phones could be about the distance and about how they are both singers and often touring and recording albums.

July 23, 2016 – Tom Hiddleston at San Diego Comic-Con International in California. Image source: By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50376826, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Other theories exist about this song being about either John Mayer or Tom Hiddleston, but those are more outlandish possibilities when compared to it being either about Gyllenhaal or Styles. She isn’t one to go into detail when it comes to who the track is referencing. and she leaves little easter eggs in the songs that can help clue you in but never directly give away the identity of the guy she is writing about. 

Regardless, it’s clear in this track that even though there was turmoil, fights, and other negative aspects of the relationship, she deeply loved this person, and they had a very romantic and passionate relationship that she couldn’t easily forget. There are also mentions of her time in New York in the song, so it’s clear this relationship was quite a while ago. 

Music Video

Taylor Swift - Maroon (Official Lyric Video)

Swift released an official lyric video for Maroon but has not yet released a music video for this song. We are hopeful in the near future, there will be a music video for it that offers more insight and clarity into who this track is about. 

Maroon Chart Performance

Critics and fans generally loved Maroon and most saw it as an extension of Red. The lyrics were thought of as being very poetic, and its production was stellar.

It made it to number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart while landing on the Billboard Global 200 at number four. In the first week of its release, it was downloaded about 3,000 times while having almost 38 million streams!

November 14, 2015 – Madonna Rebel Heart Tour in Stockholm. Image source: chrisweger, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to it and other songs from Midnights, Swift had more tracks within the top 10 than any other female artist in history, which meant she topped Madonna who previously held this record. 

Outside of the United States, it made it to number four in Australia, Portugal, Canada, and The Philippines. It hit five in New Zealand and seven in Malaysia. 


While it’s too early to talk too much about the legacy of Maroon, we can say that this song is a clearly more mature Swift where she is looking at her past relationships with more clarity and honesty instead of someone still madly in love with or heartbroken over the relationship ending. 

Red will always be a fan-favorite album because of the deeply personal lyrics found within, including All Too Well. That being said, Maroon continues with that theme and is the adult version where she can choose to accept it for what it was and move on knowing that in life, there is good and bad to almost everything we do and everyone we are romantically involved with.

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