Doing a deep dive, and finding air

See that subhead just above? That’s totally something Taylor Swift would write.            

I’ve never considered myself a Swiftie. I have been a mom of 3 Swifties for quite some time (1 is hard-core, 2 are more intermediate level). But when 2 of my daughters came home from the Eras tour concert – months after manning computers for 3 days and actually getting tickets at the regular price – they described it as the best night of their lives. I believed them, and so I decided to study Taylor Swift. I wanted to know what they (and millions of others) were so enthralled with.

You could say I was already a fan on some level. I have a sweatshirt that says “(taylor’s version)” on the front, but that was me admiring her entrepreneurial fight. There’s a history behind that popular phrase: In a nutshell, Taylor felt betrayed when her first 6 albums were sold to another company, so she did the unthinkable – she re-recorded them. Now, whenever you see (taylor’s version) attached to a song, that means she is making money from it. It’s an example of her fighting misogyny and taking her power back. I wear the shirt proudly, and make sure I download the right version.

I was also aware of what she’s doing to empower young girls. In one of her documentaries (which yes, I watched), she talks about how she loves imagining girls everywhere belting out the line, “You’ll never find another like me.”  

But I had also formed the impression that she only wrote about ex-boyfriends, and not in a good way. I’ve even had discussions with my one Swiftie about that, because I saw the songs as publicly humiliating someone. My daughter had a very good argument on why that wasn’t the case.

I wanted to see for myself, so I started listening to the playlist of her Eras concert which, in the lingo of someone who grew up in the ’70s, is more like a greatest hits tour – she just named it something way better. The songs were fun but also incredibly meaningful, each telling a different story (and not just about exes). That playlist sparked my curiosity more, so I asked for some advice from my hardcore Swiftie and she suggested I listen album by album, in order of their release. She even texted me the album list for a guide. And I got started.

Joe will tell you that every time I played music for the past 6 months, it’s Taylor Swift. I was often surprised that he never complained, but maybe he has enjoyed her too. And at the very root of this interest, for both of us, is a connection to our daughters so maybe that was our good reason to keep the music playing. 

But maybe he started thinking what I had realized while all these songs were playing: Among her many talents, Taylor Swift is an exceptional writer. She has this unmatched ability to take a situation you and I have both experienced and describe it with words we would never think of using. Words and phrases that, for years, writers have never used to describe relatable moments. An example: “They say all’s well that ends well but I’m in a new hell every time you double cross my mind.” She also calls New York “a kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats.” 

And now that Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce have become a thing, a whole new group of people have discovered her, and that hasn’t necessarily been a good thing. Last year at Thanksgiving, a loud discussion about Taylor Swift dominated a good portion of the dinner. Some believe she only writes about break-ups (like I did), and others suggested she causes break-ups for song material. Of course, there was also a staunch defense of her history and talents. I didn’t get too involved, but I would throw out here and there that maybe a deep dive into her lyrics would open the non-Swiftie minds a bit.

That’s what happened to me. And while I don’t feel I have the qualifications to ever call myself a Swiftie, I am an admirer of this young writer who is inspiring so many fans with her talent. I’m still listening and watching and rooting for her story to have a beautiful, meaningful ending. Just like her songs. 


Check out Marianne’s Taylor Swift Playlist on Spotify

Read more “Wide Awake” by Marianne Aleardi

January 2024
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