I miss the old Taylor

On Tuesday, Taylor Swift dropped a teaser for the music video of her new song”…Ready For It,” which drops on Thursday.

Taylor released her eponymous debut album in 2006, and I can vividly remember the exact moment that I fell in love. I was thirteen, and was sitting on my grandparents’ couch, battling off the impending headache that seemed to accompany every family visit to their house. CMT was on the television, but nobody was really paying attention. They were too busy talking about whatever was popular in 2006. (I can’t remember anything that happened in 2006.)

Then the room went quiet. An acoustic guitar floated forth from the television, followed by an angelic voice. And then I looked at the screen: a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl was strumming on an acoustic guitar in a white dress and cowboy boots. I was floored. It was the Girl Next Door. You see, up until that point I was certain the Girl Next Door was a myth. The only girl who near me was a tomboy who said dirty words in front of me who I once fought during a game up pick-up basketball. But Taylor, she was it. She was America. She was even singing about a Tim McGraw song, whose Live Like You Were Dying was the first album I ever owned. (The song Taylor never names but is referencing is “Can’t Tell Me Nothin'”)

I stared at the television, transfixed, watching the girl in the little white dress sing softly, wondering what it would be like to gaze into those oceanic eyes and run my fingers through her golden locks. Then my grandma muttered, “She needs to put some clothes on,” and that’s when I first predicted Trump’s presidency.

Thus began a long love affair with Taylor. Fearless (2008) accompanied me into high school. I read Romeo and Juliet in freshman English class and blasted “Love Story” at night. I hummed “You Belong With Me” as I hung around the school after soccer practice hoping to bump into my crush, a girl on the swim team who I didn’t really know but who gave me a hug whenever she saw me and was, ahem, developed for her age. And I listened to “Fifteen” on the bus ride to and from track meets, thinking about how remarkable it was that I was also fifteen and finding solace in the lines “This is life before you know who you’re gonna be.” Still wondering about that one, though. Nine years later.

Following Fearless was Speak Now (2010). The love affair that had begun four years prior was as strong as ever as I entered my junior year of high school, and although the project didn’t quite match its predecessor, it still had me longing for the love and heartbreak that I had yet to experience. The line “I’m captivated by you baby like a fireworks show” on “Sparks Fly” will forever be one of the sexiest things I’ve ever heard. Taylor toured that following summer, and played a concert in the pouring rain at Gillette Stadium, one she has cited as her most memorable. I was 17 then, and literally every girl I knew, including my sister and her friends, went. I was invited, and I wanted to go, but going to a Taylor Swift concert with a bunch of girls was gay. Just like this blog.

Red (2012) was released my freshman year of college, and oh boy, was that a disaster. This happened to coincide with both my first heartbreak over my high school girlfriend and introduction to cheap vodka. I was a mess, and it was during this time that many of the tracks off Red climbed to my top-25 on iTunes. I once broke down on a late-night campus shuttle when “Red” came on and only calmed down when my friend assured me that the song was about a sunburn. “I Almost Do” was my anthem as I fought the urge to send my ex texts and Snapchats and later turned into “I Will Later Tonight After 3 Shots.” “All Too Well” had me convinced my relationship failed because it lacked those romantic moments such as “dancing in the refrigerator light.” Looking back, though, staring at jugs of milk and leftovers doesn’t seem all that romantic and leaving the fridge door open just to dance by its light appears to be a colossal waste of energy, borderline climate change denial, and also cold, so I can’t really get down to it in 2017.

I didn’t really dig 1989 (2014). Swift’s transition to a more pop-oriented sound didn’t really do it for me, although tracks like “Shake It Off” were undeniably fun. I missed the country girl aesthetic and more importantly the sincerity and rawness of her previous hits. I did, however, love “Style.” That song is downright sexy. And it makes me wish I was James Deen.

Following 1989 a part of me prayed that Taylor would go back to the country sound, but fast forward to 2017 and that is clearly not the case. On “Look What You Made Me Do,” she even said it herself: the old Taylor is dead. I know that Taylor couldn’t stay the perpetually brokenhearted high school/college girl forever, and I understand that an artist’s aesthetic naturally evolves over time. All I’m saying is going from wholesome country girl to sleek pop star to sultry, scorned singer in a skintight bodysuit à la Ghost in the Shell is, well, jarring. Please, Taylor, pick up the guitar again. Shed some tears on it. I miss what we once had.

P.S. Taylor, however, was never my number one celebrity crush. No, since 2001, that title belonged to a certain British actress who I don’t even need to name because I’m sure every guy my age was in love with her too.


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