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What Taylor Swift’s ‘I Can See You’ Lyrics Mean


Long before “Dress” was released, Taylor Swift ventured into sultrier lyrics with the Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) vault track “I Can See You.”

While the song’s subject is unclear, the lyrics, her most sexual in nature at that point, suggest it could have been a co-worker. (“We kept everything professional / But something’s changed, it’s somethin’ I, I like / They keep watchful eyes on us / So it’s best that we move fast and keep quiet.”) During that era, Swift did date two people she worked with: fellow musician John Mayer and Valentine’s Day co-star Taylor Lautner. With the latter, she and Lautner played high school students in the film, which could possibly explain the lyrics “you brush past me in the hallway.”

The subject might remain unknown, but the lyrics paint a clear picture of how Swift viewed sexual and romantic desire at the time, when she was ending her teenage years. In the prologue she wrote for the re-release of Speak Now, Swift acknowledged that “this period of time is so violently aglow with the last light of the setting sun of my childhood. I made this album, completely self-written, between the ages of 18 and 20. I’ve spoken about how I feel like those ages are the most emotionally turbulent ones in a person’s life. Maybe when I say that, I’m really just talking about myself.

“I think they might just be the most idealistic, hopeful years too. At this point of my life, I had released my second album, Fearless. It became the breakthrough moment I’d always dreamt of, one that catapulted my career to new realms of success. It had brought with it a tidal wave of pressures and pitfalls and growing pains. All the while, I was encountering the pressures and pitfalls of normal teenage growth. I had cataclysmic crushes and brushes with heartache.”

“I Can See You” explores one “cataclysmic” crush. Here, read the lyrics via Genius and listen to the song below:

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Intro
Uh-uh, uh, uh

Verse 1


You brush past me in the hallway
And you don’t think I, I, I can see ya, do ya?
I’ve been watchin’ you for ages
And I spend my time tryin’ not to feel it

Pre-Chorus


But what would you do if I went to touch you now?
What would you do if they never found us out?
What would you do if we never made a sound?

Chorus


’Cause I can see you waitin’ down the hall from me
And I could see you up against the wall with me
And what would you do? Baby, if you only knew
That I can see you

Post-Chorus

Uh-uh, uh, uh

Verse 2


And we kept everything professional
But something’s changed, it’s somethin’ I, I like
They keep watchful eyes on us
So it’s best that we move fast and keep quiet
You won’t believe half the things I see inside my head
Wait ’til you see half the things that haven’t happened yet

Pre-Chorus

But what would you do if I went to touch you now?
What would you do if they never found us out?
What would you do if we never made a sound?

Chorus


’Cause I can see you waitin’ down the hall from me
And I could see you up against the wall with me
And what would you do? Baby, if you only knew, oh, oh, oh
That I could see you throw your jacket on the floor
I could see you, make me want you even more
What would you do? Baby, if you only knew
That I can see you

Post-Chorus

Uh-uh, uh, uh

Bridge


I can see you in your suit and your necktie
Passed me a note saying, “Meet me tonight”
Then we kissed and you know I won’t ever tell, yeah
And I could see you being my addiction
You can see me as a secret mission
Hide away and I will start behaving myself

Pre-Chorus


Uh-uh, uh, uh
Oh-oh, oh, oh

Chorus

I can see you waitin’ down the hall from me
And I could see you up against the wall with me
And what would you do? Baby, if you only knew, oh
That I could see you throw your jacket on the floor
I could see you, make me want you even more
What would you do? Baby, if you only knew
That I can see you, oh, I can see you

Outro


Oh, I see you, I see you, baby
I see you
(Uh-uh, uh, uh) I see you, I see you, baby
Oh, baby

Headshot of Alyssa Bailey

Senior News and Strategy Editor

Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.



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