So coming into the new year after a somewhat disjointed – but hugely rewarding year of my life I want to make a concerted effort to write more and write regularly. I do make what apology is pertinent for my absence this year – I promise my thinking is all the better for it though.
For longer term readers – I will put this admin point up front, my Lovecraftian short story has evolved and is now becoming somewhat more that it was originally envisioned to be, more on that hopefully soon.
With that out of the way –on to the main event.
Something light to start – Taylor Swift.
So, Taylor’s most recent album ‘Reputation’ dropped last month and to be honest I really really like it – but I don’t love it, certainly not in the way I loved ‘1989’ or loved ‘Red’ even more so but it is a remarkably fun album to listen to and significant evolution of TS’ sound. Now some of the shift in my opinion could be chalked up to the fact that the two singles that TS released prior to the launch of the full album really suffer without the context of the rest of the album to support them and so I had a fairly low, disappointed, perception of the likely album going in. But I do not like this reasoning – it is over simple and doesn’t account for the real and palpable enjoyment I get from the album, even those singles when put in with the rest.
Of course, this caused me to sit down and do some thinking and some reflecting on the relationship I have had with lady Swift’s music throughout the last 8 or so years (No I am definitely not an OG Swiftian, I took some convincing). I remember quite vividly that I was in a really dysfunctional place the first time I ever really connected with a Swift track. ‘Mean’ off ‘Speak Now’ really reached out and grabbed me – form your own reasons for why that might have occurred based on the above inference if you wish – and for a time that was about the extent of my enjoyment of TS.
Some years later I was, once again, in somewhat of a serious funk and ‘Mean’ once again grabbed my attention – however this time I delved a little further into Taylor’s catalogue. ‘Red’ was out, and from the first to the last it absolutely grabbed me; my marriage had broken down and the sentiment expressed by Taylor as she so publicly worked through her own breakups resonated with me – it truly felt to me in a time when I had very very few people who could connect with what I was going through as if that album had something to say ‘to me’.
So, I went back and discovered I had a similar kinship with all of Taylor’s work to that point – all the way through her musical history there was a consistent willingness to jump head first into romance and feel that anguish when it inevitably blew up in spectacular – or mundane – fashion which was a trait I felt I shared with Taylor. Over the years that enjoyment for the cathartic realisation that I was not as alone as I could feel at times was much more than a useful distraction – along with other musicians Taylor’s work truly did prove to be somewhat of a lifeline, helping me stay above the surface as I battled my more depressive tendencies.
1989 was released and I had transitioned from being a moody, retiring, indoorsy type of depressive to the Tinder type of depressive (more on that in previous writings) and so of course ‘Blank Space’ immediately stole my musical heart and the rest of the album soon followed.
After having reflected on all of this, in the light of the underwhelming response I had to ‘Reputation’, it finally dawned on me that what I was connecting with in Taylor’s earlier writings was the universal experience of loss and overcoming that loss. Taylor’s career toi this point has done an amazing job at chronicling these patterns in her life and sharing her story with the world. However, because I have become markedly better at managing the processes of grief and recovery since the last time I had been invited to form a fresh connection with Taylor’s work it was no longer integral to feel connected to her music in the way I had in the past – I had outgrown that facet of my love for Taylor Swift.
Obviously, my enjoyment of the music has abided and the nostalgia of the days angstily spent brooding to ‘Mean’ has some ephemeral lingering romance to it – but I no longer have the same visceral connection to Taylor’s work as I once did. I was reading some Liz Gilbert recently and the way she talks about creativity being an actual spiritual being that one might converse with has stuck with me and I will use it here. As I came to realise that my need for Taylor Swift to be singing about a shared experience dwindled, I had a meaningful conversation with my past and my memories of pain and the relief that her music has provided me across the years and wished them fair wind and following seas. That wonderful feeling of connectedness offered to me and so many others by Taylor had changed for me due to finally finding the strength to face (some of) my own demons. And so it is not with regret that I say I outgrew Taylor Swift but with the truest gratitude and love, not only for Taylor but for all the other people in my life who she represents, the family, friends and strangers who have provided me with the impetus to become better to reach new heights and believe in what I might accomplish if I just act a little more fearlessly.