…and I think it’s a good idea that I’ve suspended much of my music writing until the passing of the cloud (AUTHOR’S NOTE: not black – anxiety is coloured differently to depression; more like a sickly green punctuated by red, neon streaks); because the only thing I want to listen to is Taylor Swift. And not her new pop monster, although god knows I’ll give it all my words and my time and I’ll grab a hold of its lyrics when they scream by in flashes of technicolour… No: these days it’s Speak Now; the 2010 album on which Swift was still a golden-haired country princess in a white cotton dress, barging into the wedding on the back of a unicorn to sweep the groom off his feet. I can’t go as far back as “Love Story” and “Fifteen” – after all, I am coming to many of these songs RED-rospectively and I am at least nominally an adult – but this album is the right mix of fantasy and fairytale, with the sort of all-or-nothing choruses that sweep me out of screensaver mode.
And, of course, there’s this:
it’s okay, life is a tough crowd
thirty-two and still growing up now
who you are is not what you did
you’re still an innocent
I never thought I’d identify so much with Kanye West. Like, ever.
And yes, I’m jealous that when I was 15 I never had a Taylor Swift to sing my feelings back to me. That was 1997, and it was just before music would open up to me with all its power and complexity. I wanted dramatic, soppy melodies and I wanted people I could pin on my bedroom wall; and so they tended to be bland, identikit boys (a safety net for somebody with no interest in them as sexual creatures anyway) and there was no chance of myth-making or storytelling accidentally sneaking into the lyrics.
To crib from my own review of new album 1989: Swift’s skill is that she can take vivid images from her own life experiences and create songs so universal that they are cherished across generations. Taylor Swift and I have nothing in common (thank god, because I remember those feelings and they were exhausting, you know?). But we did once, and the thoughts and feelings that her stories trigger are coloured with the sepia tones and the comforting nostalgia of an Instagram filter. They are warm, and safe, and far more aesthetically pleasing than they really were – which makes them the perfect place to hide out from my reality for a little while.
Taylor Swift plays the SSE Hydro, Glasgow on Tuesday, 23rd June 2015. Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 9:30am.