Taylor Swift: Prophet for the Early Twenties
In light of Taylor Swift’s new single, the rather rompish “We Are Never Getting Back Together”, I thought it would be apt to discuss my undying love for Ms. Swift.
I am a 21-year-old man who loves Taylor Swift. I think my love spawned after an emotional night out with friends whilst I was still a student in Brighton. I found myself, at 4 am, crying at “Love Story”. I have never been able to live this moment down, but it did start my exploration into Taylor Swift’s music, and the obvious power it held over me. Taylor’s (I feel at this point we are on first name terms) music has been successful this side of the metaphorical pond, but never to the extent that it has in the States. I think in our jaded country we find it hard to connect to the seemingly sickly sweet tone and lyrics that Taylor so often recites. Indeed, after first hearing “Love Story” I could feel the judgmental British man inside of me nit-picking and criticising.
There are the obvious cries of integrity: yes, she (co)writes her music, yes, it is all (semi)autobiographical, yes, she is pretty, yes, she is talented (having won SIX Grammy Awards); it is not just these things that attract me to Taylor. It is simplicity of it all; the overriding sense of agelessness, but the sense of understanding in terms of her age. Taylor is not much older than I am (our birthdays at 13 months apart). As a young adult in my early twenties I am supposed to be “grown-up” in the terms of the world. However, I still feel like I am 15, and it is this that I think Taylor taps into. Similarly, the way that she plays with point-of-view in her lyrics and videos, placing herself in another’s position, allows a certain form of empathy.
In our early twenties we are lost, fearful creatures, either out of university or attempting to forge our way in the big bad world. Whilst our sensible side develops, the side that tells you to pay your bills on time and sort out your council tax, our emotional level reverts. I find myself acting like a petulant teenager when something breaks, or someone tells me no. But, with Taylor’s help, her simple-but-wise lyrics waxing logical, she drives my emotional side forward through basic steps.
In fact, she is the adult we all crave to be. She appears, on the surface, so clean-cut and “nice” that we question what went wrong with us, and how we can be more like her. Under the surface is an emotional girl, singing songs that are not only catchy, but also didactic. They are teaching the emotional stunted how to feel, how to deal with loves lost, what to do when someone is mean to you (the song “Mean” being a personal favourite), and how to deal with your parents. Whereas others might write a confessional autobiography in an attempt to figure out what went wrong, Taylor progresses from album to album, allowing one to live and learn through her mistakes.
Her new single seems a slight departure from the country-pop that usually infects her music, but the song (produced by super-pop producer Max Martin), is a direction that seems logical. I have progressed, with Taylor’s help, from 15 to 17. Her music has taken me emotionally to that level. At 17 you want to play with the big kids. So, as I take my first steps to playing with the big kids of the world of work, Taylor’s music guides me forward, letting me know that I shall be “Safe and Sound”. Next Chapter.
“We Are Never Getting Back Together” is out now on iTunes, Red is s scheduled for release on October 22, 2012.