In 2007, I watched as a young aspiring country music star warmed up the crowd for Brad Paisley. This moment, over 10 years ago, was the first time I had ever heard of Taylor Swift. A part of Paisley’s Bonfires & Amplifiers tour, she shared the opening act stage with Jack Ingram and Kellie Pickler. After the concert, she literally had a small space out on the concourse where she went to meet fans, no meet and greet passes needed, face-to-face. Although I didn’t stand in line to meet her, I did walk past her. Swift had the largest grin spread across her face and her eyes conveyed genuine happiness. I thought, this girl might be special.
After you see someone in concert, you tend to take a little more stock in following their music and career. After that night in Spokane, I rooted for Taylor Swift to succeed. I like to think the positive vibes I sent her way played a small role in what was to follow.
With no help from me, Taylor Swift would take the country music world by storm. With hit after hit and award after award, she was the face of the industry. Through this stretch she remained humble almost to a fault. She would win accolades at these awards shows and go up to the stage with a look of bewilderment on her face, delivering an acceptance speech expressing surprise and astonishment over her latest honor. She was talented, young, and graceful.
Taylor wasn’t done. She crossed over into mainstream and started dominating the Top 40 chart. She developed a passionate fanbase, a serious social media following, and a strong respect from the music world.
She hit her peak with me around November of 2014. Her latest album, 1989, was released to rave reviews. “Shake It Off” dominated in late summer and then one of my all-time favorite Swift songs, “Blank Space,” broke a couple weeks before Thanksgiving. In my mind, she had set herself apart from everyone else. She had mastered multiple genres of music, won every award possible, and conducted herself with class at all times.
But when you are at the top, there is only one way to go.
My admiration for Taylor Swift started to wane a bit in 2015. She started to gravitate toward drama. She posted social media shade, engaged in feuds, and burned ex-boyfriends. She released music videos produced to shame others and wrote lyrics meant to confuse and generate controversy. This wasn’t the Taylor Swift I grew to admire.
This behavior has lasted the past three years. It isn’t just about her music anymore. Rather, it is about her feud with Katy Perry, her past relationship with Calvin Harris, her cryptic slights, and her demands she makes through her lawyers. It wasn’t a good look for Taylor this past week when the ACLU mocked her for issuing a cease-and-desist letter to a blogger. Swift’s attorneys attempted to take action against the person behind the blog for writing something that was, for all intents and purposes, false. However, most would agree that Swift has bigger fish to fry than to challenge the first amendment rights of a lowly blogger. When this story broke, my respect for Swift dropped to an all-time low.
Leave it to her to immediately get back into my good graces.
The 2017 CMA Awards took place last Wednesday. Taylor Swift was nowhere near Nashville but that didn’t stop here from stealing the show. When the category for Song of the Year came up, the melody performed by Little Big Town titled “Better Man” was a nominee. However, when it was introduced, there was no mention of Little Big Town. Rather, it was “Better Man” by Taylor Swift. Although it was no secret that Swift wrote the song, it felt funny that such a mega hit was being attributed to her rather than the group that performed it.
But it got better. The song actually won. Taylor Swift was introduced. She wasn’t there. Little Big Town went up to accept the award. An extremely popular country music band was giving an acceptance speech based on the work that a mainstream star, one who has been on earth almost as long as the group has been together, wrote for them. It was priceless.
It was also a testament. Specifically, it was a testament toward the talent of Taylor Swift. Sure, she has transformed from a down to earth country star to a celebrity drama queen. However, she still has unparalleled skill. Her life as a Nashville darling might be behind her but she can still have an incredible impact on the genre. No matter if the superstars of country are bitter at Taylor for turning her back on the music that provided her start, she can still capitalize from it.
Well played, Taylor.
I might not hold Swift in high regard anymore, but I do admire her talent. Don’t Blink.