In Defense of Listening to Taylor Swift: An Open Letter

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Recently, I had a friend comment on my listening to Taylor Swift’s reputation album, specifically the song “Gorgeous.” Granted, my friend’s taste in music and mine are pretty different, and she was never a Taylor fan to begin with, but her comment struck me with a particular insensitivity to my own.

“It just sounds so teenager-y!” was her cry in the passenger seat. She mimicked the lyrics with a bit of a high-pitched giggle: I can’t say anything to your face, ’cause look at your face!

Although I laughed at this imitation, I felt there was a bit of insensitivity to my likes, or the fact that we were in my car.

I’ve been a fan of Taylor Swift since “Tim McGraw” and “Teardrops on My Guitar.” As a teenager myself at the time, I could relate to the teenage love and loss. I have enjoyed watching her progression in the music industry, and I have even enjoyed watching her change her sound as she has gotten older. I was pretty excited for reputation when she announced its impending release, and I was eager to listen to “Look What You Made Me Do.” I wasn’t disappointed.

The past few months have not exactly been a cake walk, and listening to music became difficult and emotional, simply because it reminded me so much of what I felt I had lost. As I slowly began to listen to music again, I could only listen to music I could scream out in my car or that made me feel a little less weak. Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” became a power ballad for me.

When reputation was finally released, I took a quick listen to the other songs, and a few ended up being my favorites. For some reason, I ended up really liking “Gorgeous.” Maybe it was the I guess I’ll just stumble on home to my cats line. As a fellow cat owner, I outright laughed at this lyric in my car the first time I heard it, and I realized it was my first real laugh in months. But, no, the real reason I like “Gorgeous” is because that’s how I felt when I met my husband — I was taken away with how cute he was, it was hard for me to talk to him, and I knew I wanted to be with him. And, right now, I need those memories. Right now, somehow, they’re not as painful when that song is on. Plus, “Gorgeous” is just…fun!

And, frankly, so is the rest of the CD. It’s the first time I’ve been able to really listen to music in months, the first time I’ve been able to sing in the car without crying.

So, yes, “Gorgeous” may seem like it’s sung by a more teenager-Swift, but it’s relatable. “Ready For It…” and “Look What You Made Me Do” are just good power songs. Yes, those are my three favorite songs, and they’re the ones I listen to on repeat in the moments when I need music, but I don’t want to be an emotional mess. Even her older songs, like “Out of the Woods” and “Blank Space” are ones I can lose myself to (in a good way).

For some reason, Taylor Swift is one of the artists I can listen to without feeling as if I’m drowning in my emotions or losing myself to my own head. I’ve always enjoyed her music, and I have yet to encounter music of hers I don’t like.

But here’s the real reason for this defense: just because you don’t like your friend’s taste in music doesn’t mean you should mock it, least of all when you know they are battling things you can barely understand. That music may be the only thing getting them through.

So, thank you Taylor Swift for good music that gets me through these times. Are we out of the woods yet?