Okay, Cousin Tony, I’ll explain why Taylor Swift is in the box for 2018. In case readers don’t want to peruse the linked post, I’m a Christian, and as an exercise, I put three things in a box each Christmas that I want to give to Jesus for the upcoming year.
Taylor Swift needs no introduction here, and at age 59, I’m way outside her demographic. Country music is not my thing, either, which is where she started, but enter 1989, her pop crossover release. The day came when my music snob, soon-to-be-college-kid excitedly called me upstairs to listen to Shake it Off, newly released, and catchy as anything. I was hooked.
(Once that song went crazy, music snob son moved on, nose in air. 😤)
It didn’t take long for me to realize my granddaughters were ga ga over T Swift, and delighted that I listened. Multiple bumping rides happened in the Honda Civic with music blaring and possibly one or more of said granddaughters hanging out the sun roof (on remote roads, after dark, driving slowly, yes, yes) and belting it out with arms thrown wide in the breeze. I think the earth shook under the car.
And then, there were the dance parties, on my wood floors, in socks, with hairbrush microphones and huge smiles. And talks. So many talks about lyrics, and musical influences, and music videos, and life things. It was a connection over music, but I admitted to my granddaughters that I struggled with paying too much attention to Taylor Swift’s work. After buying a hard copy of 1989, with bonus tracks, I donated it to a charitable thrift store, when I noticed that I listened over and over, while letting other things go. Because on my own, without the granddaughters’ help, I was becoming almost a full-on Swiftie, and at my age, too. 🙄
After failing, along with my daughter and niece, to get through the fan system to get tickets to Swift’s 1989 tour stop in Dallas, life went on. Taylor had a bad stretch in the press, and she took a bit of a break. But I Googled and read. And waited for her next album.
That album (Reputation) finally released in November of 2017, but leading up to that, several songs dropped. In particular, a much-anticipated video to Look What You Made Me Do was to come out on August 27, 2017. I knew the video was coming that day, but I was distracted with my stepmom’s final demise, which hit me hard. In fact, I spent the day at my stepmom’s, and I came home feeling just about dead. I was so low emotionally and physically that I felt like a zombie. As I was about to drag myself over the edge of the tub to get a bath and fall into bed, I remembered that the new video was supposed to be out, and I stopped to check my phone. Since that video now has over one billion views, some might have seen it, but in case you haven’t, it starts with a zombie Taylor dragging herself out of a grave. And it ends in comic relief, with a parody of her bad press, and by the final second of that video, I was out of that grave with her, and laughing, just for that moment. The laughter was like medicine, and I will always be grateful.
My stepmom died on September 8, 2017, and it was earth shattering to me, for complicated reasons.
When Reputation released in its entirety, I listened on repeat, for hours. I followed everything I could find online about Taylor Swift, I dreamed of meeting her, and I was becoming obsessed. I began to feel twinges of caution, but the night that I couldn’t sleep because I had the lyrics to Dress stuck in my mind, I knew I had a problem. Taylor Swift is talented, and Reputation is a good album musically, in my opinion, but it speaks a lot about anger, revenge, drinking and sex outside of marriage. As a Christian, I let these topics worm into my brain, to an extreme. As much as I disliked admitting it, I knew that I had to stop somehow.
That’s why I put Taylor Swift in the box. In fact, I purged my music library of everything but praise music this year. At one point, during a particularly difficult period, I listened only to scripture lullabies. Hard times made my psyche crave calm. These music shifts gave my mind and heart a break, and focused my perspective in more positive ways. What started as a rather innocent music fast became vital.
Sometimes, things I put into the box are things I want to hold onto, but probably shouldn’t. Taylor Swift’s music was that way for me, at least in the way I was listening. Sometimes, they are things that are precious to me, and I trust God with them, like my heart, the very first gift. Either way, the exercise of giving things to Jesus each year is memorable, personal, and transformational.
After stuffing poor Taylor into a box, I do want to point out that I enjoyed being her crazy fan. She’s relatable, and she seemed real, for someone on top of the hill. And personally, I understand someone who writes to help work things out.
Although my music focus changed with my practice this year, Taylor Swift’s New Year’s Day will probably always be on my New Year’s Eve playlist, as an anthem of sorts to my marriage of over forty years. Thanks, Taylor.
NOTE: When I categorize something under “Facing the Monsters,” it refers to me facing my own issues, and with God’s help, changing them.