Did Taylor Swift Ever Confirm Who ‘Hey Stephen’ Is Really About?

With her first re-recorded album, Fearless, Taylor Swift fans are returning to all of their old favorite songs. This includes one late-night host who believes the track “Hey Stephen” is about him. Swift assured him it’s not. But did she ever reveal who the song is actually about?

Taylor Swift released her album ‘Fearless’ in 2008

Taylor Swift hold a mic stand and twirls her hair on stage
Taylor Swift performs at Madison Square Garden on August 27, 2009, in New York City. | Theo Wargo/WireImage for New York Post

Following her self-titled debut, Swift immediately began working on her follow-up. Fearless, debuting in November 2008, marked the artist’s first No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 — a pattern she’d continue with every subsequent album release. Singles like “Love Story” broke records, too.

Not only did her listeners buy and request Fearless at a rapid pace, but the album was a critical darling. It won numerous awards, including the coveted Album of the Year at the 2010 Grammy Awards. By winning this prize, she became the youngest artist ever to do so until Billie Eilish took that honor in 2020.

She revisited it with ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’

Years later, and Swift revisited Fearless in its entirety. Following the fight to purchase her master recordings back from former label Big Machine Records (and its new owner, Scooter Braun), Swift chose to re-record her old albums and release them as her own in April 2021.

In addition to the standard album’s 13 tracks and the various bonus tracks from other editions, Swift also recorded six songs that she wrote that didn’t make it onto Fearless the first time. So, in addition to hits like “Forever & Always,” fans learned about another Joe Jonas-inspired entry, “Mr. Perfectly Fine.”

Swift joked the song ‘Hey Stephen’ is about Stephen King

Many artists do the late-night talk show circuit while promoting their music. While Swift often refrains from this, she made an exception to make a joke. She appeared on the April 13, 2021 episode of A Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where they talked about one particular song.

The host insisted that the Fearless track “Hey Stephen” is about him, while Swift argued. Her mood board filled with photos of Colbert indicated otherwise. But according to the singer, the track is about another famous Stephen: author Stephen King. “He’s amazing,” she deadpanned, citing some of his most famous works.

‘Hey Stephen’ is about another musician

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While Swift and Colbert’s silly interview was all in good fun (while likely hinting at what’s coming next from the musician), this is well-trodden territory. Back when Fearless first debuted, she addressed the real subject of “Hey Stephen” — a fellow artist who opened for her on tour.

“The song is actually about a guy who I had a crush on and never told him,” Swift told Access Hollywood. “So I wrote everything that I was thinking down in the song instead of telling him.” The man in question is Stephen Barker Liles of the band Love and Theft. And fortunately, he was flattered, calling the song “the nicest thing a girl has ever done for me.”