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A Pleasant Surprise During iTunes Spring Cleaning

Being born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, country music was never a significant part of my life.  I grew up mostly listening to rock and roll, thanks to my father’s love of Bruce Springsteen, as well as Hip-Hop and R&B that I discovered in elementary school when I first heard the crazy thoughts of Outkast, and the perfect melodies of Destiny’s Child.  So why then when I cleaned out my iTunes the other night (hoping to make space on my computer for new music), did I just realize that Taylor Swift takes up a hefty percentage of my library?  I used to think I wasn’t a fan.  The only country music I ever listened to was from deep down South where artists played fiddles, banjos, harmonicas, and sang about their alcohol problems, living in the “country”, or the deep, paralyzing heartbreaks that no teenager could even fathom, let alone sing about.  So imagine my surprise as I went through my music and realized I had every one of Taylor Swift’s singles and albums.  She was almost tied with my Alison Krauss & Union Station collection!  I decided to reexamine my feelings about pop country music and the phenomenon that is Taylor Swift, right then and there. 

I took the next few hours to listen to every single Swift song on my computer, and tried to not freak out when I caught myself singing along to every single word.  I tried to fight it for years, but I am truly a closet Taylor Swift fan!  Her songs took me on a journey that I thought would only be possible from music sung by middle-aged people with major issues, (definitely not from a teen trying to survive boy problems in high school).  Turns out I was wrong.  Her cute, upbeat attitude on one of her first singles, Our Song, actually put me in a good mood and took me on a trip down memory lane.  Her newest single Mean, about what might seem like trivial topics such as bullying and simply being mean to others, made me feel empowered, satisfied, and downright impressed that such a popular figure was taking a stance about the issues teens and kids face in school today.  On her record Breathe off her sophomore album, I actually felt the incredibly simple lyrics “People like people and sometimes we change our minds”, because over an acoustic guitar that she plays herself (which I might add is rare these days), it certainly stirred up feelings of sadness and hurt. No matter what I was feeling, I was definitely feeling, and isn’t that what music is all about?  I even caught my father, who skipped the first few days of his sophomore year of college to rock out at Woodstock in 1969 with The Who and Jimi Hendrix, bobbing his head along to one of Swift’s CD’s in his car.  That image alone spoke thousands of words about her power.

Although she doesn’t come from a farm down South, raised in the cornfields, and facing some sort of tremendous hardship, Swift’s self-written lyrics and excellent guitar skills had me lost in her imagination, as well as my own memories and thoughts.  Needless to say there was no deleting whatsoever of Taylor Swift from my iTunes library that night.  And I intend to keep it that way.

-Zoe Rich