Taylor Wrote "Out Of The Woods" About A Star-Studded Snowmobile Accident
"20 stitches in the hospital room" wasn't just a metaphor, after all.
One of 1989’s most iconic tracks, “Out Of The Woods,” has quite the story behind it — rumored to involve Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and an ill-fated ski trip to Park City, Utah. In the song, Swift details an anxiety-filled relationship, one that’s defined by a constant question: “Are we out of the woods yet?” But that’s only part of the track’s backstory.
The song’s bridge describes what sounds like a dangerous accident. “Remember when you hit the brakes too soon? / 20 stitches in a hospital room / When you started crying, baby, I did too / But when the sun came up, I was looking at you,” Swift sings.
Considering so many songs on 1989 were supposedly inspired by Styles, this specific lyric has inspired fans to question his driving skills. One fan on Twitter joked, “I hope the 1989 tv vault tracks give us more insight into how bad a driver Harry Styles is.” Another joked, “My main takeaway from 1989 as an album is that Harry styles is a bad driver.” (ICYMI, in “Style,” Swift also mentions how the song’s muse “can’t keep his wild eyes on the road” and picked her up with “no headlights.”)
But what’s the real inspiration behind “Out Of The Woods”? The music video features plenty of snowy mountains and icy imagery, which was definitely on purpose. In a September 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Swift explained that a snowmobile accident with her ex inspired the famous line about hitting the brakes. According to the article, the accident was so serious that Swift “saw her life flash before her eyes,” though she said she was “not as hurt” as her then-boyfriend.
Though Swift didn’t name anyone in particular, the story fits the timeline of her relationship with Styles. (They dated from November 2012 to January 2013.) Per Us Weekly, the couple went on a ski trip to Park City with Gomez and Bieber back in December 2012. Later that month, Styles was photographed with a large bandage on his chin. Per the Daily Mail, his injury likely happened during their romantic ski getaway.
However, the details of the accident never became public knowledge. Swift explained to Rolling Stone at the time, “You know what I’ve found works even better than an NDA? Looking someone in the eye and saying, ‘Please don’t tell anyone about this.'”
A month later, in an October 2014 interview, Swift told NPR that “hitting the brakes too soon” wasn’t just an accurate accident report, but also an apt decription for the relationship as a whole. “That line is in there because it's not only the actual, literal narration of what happened in a particular relationship I was in, it's also a metaphor,” she said.
"Hit the brakes too soon could mean the literal sense of, we got in an accident and we had to deal with the aftermath,” she added. “But also, the relationship ended sooner than it should've because there was a lot of fear involved.”
While some of Swift’s exes might have reason to dread the re-recordings, it seems like Styles is safe from Swiftie criticism — even if his driving skills leave something to be desired. “harry styles is so comfortable right now because the only bad thing taylor swift has ever written about him is that he’s a bad driver,” one fan joked ahead of the 1989 re-release.