Who is Ronan to Taylor Swift? Unraveling the True Story Behind the Song “Red (Taylor’s Version)”

‘Ronan’ is a charity single written by Taylor Swift for Maya Thompson who lost her four-year-old Ronan to cancer in 2011.

Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) includes her 2012 single ‘Ronan’ and the meaning behind the song is incredibly moving.

Today (Nov 12), Taylor Swift put out her highly-anticipated Red (Taylor’s Version) album. The record includes rerecordings of all of Taylor’s Red tracks, as well as a selection of unreleased songs that were cut from her original Red tracklist. On top of that, the unheard songs ‘From the Vault’, include collaborations with Phoebe Bridgers, Chris Stapleton and Ed Sheeran.

What new fans may not realise though is that Track 21 isn’t actually song from the vault. Taylor originally released ‘Ronan’ back in 2021, and the story behind it is beautiful.

Taylor Swift Ronan lyrics: Who is Ronan? The meaning explained
Taylor Swift Ronan lyrics: Who is Ronan? The meaning explained. Picture: Francis Specker/CBS via Getty Images, Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift wrote and recorded ‘Ronan’ in 2011, after reading Maya Thompson’s viral blog posts about her son’s battle with cancer. Ronan died in 2011 and Taylor wrote ‘Ronan’ using excerpts of Maya’s blog. Taylor then arranged to meet Maya in person to ask if she could release ‘Ronan’ as a cancer charity single. Maya said yes, and Taylor credited her as a writer.

In the song, Taylor sings: “I can still feel you hold my hand, little man / And even the moment I knew / You fought it hard like an army guy / Remember I leaned in and whispered to you”.

She then adds in the chorus: “Come on baby with me we’re going to fly away from here / You were my best four years”.

In 2021, Taylor emailed Maya to ask if she could add ‘Ronan’ to her Red rerelease. She wrote: “I’ve recently completed the re-recording of my 4th album, Red. It’s really exceeded my expectations in so many ways, and one of those ways is that I thought it would be appropriate to add ‘Ronan’ to this album.”

She continued: “Red was an album of heartbreak and healing, of rage and rawness, of tragedy and trauma, and of the loss of an imagined future alongside someone. I wrote “Ronan” while I was making Red and discovered your story as you so honestly and devastatingly told it.”

Taylor ended writing: “My genuine hope is that you’ll agree with me that this song should be included on this album. As my co-writer and the rightful owner of this story in its entirety, your opinion and approval of this idea really matters to me, and I’ll honor your wishes here.”

Yesterday (Nov 11), Maya took to Twitter to write: “This is how I’ll be all day. I just listened AND watched Ronan, Taylor’s version. I couldn’t tell you about the music video until now. It is beyond perfection and I can’t wait for you all to see it. @taylorswift13 You are one of the greatest loves of my life. TY for loving him.”, alongside a photo crying.

The lyric video for ‘Ronan (Taylor’s Version)’ includes footage of Ronan and photographs which Maya provided.

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