It is safe to say I was completely wrong about Taylor Swift.
In the years that I would allow myself to be swayed by social media coincided with the time Taylor Swift was also coming of age. It became somewhat of a running joke throughout history that any of her upcoming albums would be about a past failed relationship with some other hunk of a celebrity. Like, maybe perhaps she was the problem in these relationships?
And for this I immensely disliked her.
Like so many of us, social media became a launching pad to project our “true self”, if you will. Being a product of shock jock rock radio on the FM dial and all curiosities of the obscure and morbid, I self-prescribed myself a good judge of talent and comedy, despite not being good at either. I took pride thinking I could see the BS that plagued American pop culture. I was insufferable for quite some time then and I didn’t realize it. It was a problem that I’ve been working on for years now.
Several weeks ago I had a funny idea stewing in my head all day. After a few hours I thought a thought I never thought I would think out loud- hey, this would make for a funny tweet! I went through the trouble of recovering my old account just so I can write this joke. I did, and it didn’t go viral like I had hoped. Bruised ego aside, I began scrolling through old tweets, and that’s where I rediscovered an ugly truth.
In the vast black hole that is the internet, I added nothing of substance. And definitely nothing worth holding on to. Horrified at the person I was then, I spent the following weekend deleting old tweets. About three thousand of them.
Long story short, it was a bad time…
In the same timeframe I was constructing a body of work of regrettable emptiness (an ultimately, sadness) on various forms of social media, Taylor Swift was busy building a resume of releasing number one albums and headlining sold out concerts held in the same stadiums that football teams play in.
Maybe I was the wrong one here.
It’s nearly impossible to not be aware of the monolith that is T-Sweezie over the last ten to fifteen years. I was not one to actually dig deeper into her work, but there was no denying that her radio hits are perfectly crafted to burrow into your head. I never got into some of the hits such “Shake It Off”, or “Bad Blood”, but a song like “Mean”, off of 2010’s Speak Now, is a song I would die on a hill defending. It’s a great song and an important reminder to all of us.
I never know why I had to be so mean. And I don’t know why I felt like the world needed to know, either.
Months after Taylor released the minimalistic masterpiece, folklore, listeners were gifted another excellent album, evermore. I found the focus of a more lo-fi stripped down singer-songwriter style propelled her talents to another atmosphere. I ended up gravitating more towards evermore, however. There are moments on this album that nearly caused my jar to hit the floor. After every listen to the song “no body, no crime”, I am convincing myself that it might be the greatest murder ballad of all time. It’s so goddamned good.
It feels that on just these two albums, we’ve witnessed Swift baring her soul. Her voice slightly weathered from a life under the constant scrutiny of being one of music’s biggest stars, and certainly the biggest in a post-security world.
There is no shortage of journalists writing about these colossal releases, and they’re probably better at describing their justifiable importance, so you might be better served checking those out. Yet for me, these albums were a right hook squarely to my gut. They absolutely stunned me and took my breath away and they were exactly what I needed to round out the year.
Knowing Taylor Swift as only just a teen country star gone pop always ending up in bad relationships pigeoned holed her just as much as viewing the world in the way I had all those many years ago. It was an epiphany realizing that my past is something I can edit and eventually build from. It wasn’t so easy for Ms. Swift. There was no way she could have that luxury. Still, the way in how she reinvented and presented herself is quite remarkable, in my opinion. Taylor Swift is not the person she was all those years ago engrossed in the tabloid pages. She is consistently setting the bar high with mesmerizing album that’ll withstand the test of time.
I would like to think that I’ve grown from the person I was ten years ago. Furthermore, I hope I’m not the same person I will be ten years from now, but when I look back I would like to say that I was on my way back then. Growing up is still a beautiful thing that’s worth looking into regardless of your age.
Long story short, we survived.