Like most of Swift's songs, this was based on a real experience. As a teenager, she had an argument with her parents over a boy - they thought he was a creep, and Taylor thought it was love. She told 60 Minutes that he was, indeed, a creep, but she thought he was amazing at the time. The pre-chorus of the song came into her head: "You were Romeo, you were throwing pebbles, and my daddy said, 'Stay away from Juliet.'" She grabbed her guitar and worked out the chords on her bedroom floor. Taylor added that the song was met with indifference from her record company and her parents, but she fought for it, which she says was a fun experience because she had something to prove.
This could be about Swift's relationship with Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, whom she dated for much of 2008. The line "Romeo, take me some place we can be alone" relates to how they were never alone due to their popularity. "I sneak out to the garden" is symbolic of how they had to sneak around to have dates due to the paparazzi. The song also talks about Swift's father and his objection to Joe, but Taylor ignored her father's advice and continued to date him until their breakup in October.
Swift expanded on this song's invocation of the story of Romeo and Juliet in an interview with the Los Angeles Times October 26, 2008. Said Swift: "I was going through a situation like that where I could relate. I used to be in high school where you see [a boyfriend] every day. Then I was in a situation where it wasn't so easy for me, and I wrote this song because I could relate to the whole Romeo and Juliet thing. I was really inspired by that story. Except for the ending. I feel like they had such promise and they were so crazy for each other. And if that had just gone a little bit differently, it could have been the best love story ever told. And it is one of the best love stories ever told, but it's a tragedy. I thought, why can't you... make it a happy ending and put a key change in the song and turn it into a marriage proposal?"
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