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Taylor explained this song's meaning on her website: "'Haunted' is about the moment that you realize the person you're in love with is drifting and fading fast. And you don't know what to do, but in that period of time, in that phase of love, where it's fading out, time moves so slowly. Everything hinges on what that last text message said, and you're realizing that he's kind of falling out of love. That's a really heartbreaking and tragic thing to go through, because the whole time you're trying to tell yourself it's not happening. I went through this, and I ended up waking up in the middle of the night writing this song about it."
Taylor explained why she used a string section for this song: "I wanted the music and the orchestration to reflect the intensity of the emotion the song is about, so we recorded strings with Paul Buckmaster at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. It was an amazing experience - recording this entire big, live string section that I think in the end really captured the intense, chaotic feeling of confusion I was looking for."
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