1989: What Taylor Swift’s Latest Album Taught Me About Starting Over

1989 coverI’m not sure why what I’m about to say feels more like a confession than anything else. But bearing that in mind I’m going to say it anyway because I’ve had these thoughts on my mind for a while now.

I am a Taylor Swift fan. Not only that, but I have been since the days of Tim McGraw. Since the very beginning! I would not go so far as to say that “she’s my queen” or anything of the major-Swiftie nature. I simply love Taylor Swift and her music, and probably always will. One of the things that I love the most about her music is that every single album comes right from her soul, but along with that they always seem to speak directly to mine.

No matter which album she released, it was always perfectly applicable to my stage in life. fearlessIt was just what I needed to hear at the right time. For example, the song Fifteen, (Fearless album) a narrative about beginning high school and what to keep in mind during those impressionable years, was released months before I entered high school. The song Long Live (Speak Now album) is about her relationship with her band and how they conquered so many things together. It came out the year that my drama/speech team and I defied odds and had major success.

The negative talk that has been about her has been going on since Day 1, and you have the right to think what you want about her. All I am saying is that, for me, Taylor Swift has been a huge part of my growing up years.

Her latest album,1989, was released while I was serving my religious mission and because of strict rules on the music we could listen to while serving I wasn’t able to listen to any of the new songs until the album was about six months old. I will admit that at first I was very nervous to listen to it. I was afraid that Taylor had deviated from who she was because she had crossed over to pop. I was afraid that the relatability I had always experienced was gone and that somebody I admired had gone a way I didn’t agree with.

album titlesAnd while I will freely admit that the songs on 1989 weren’t what I was expecting and surprised me, they completely blew me away with how real and raw they were. It was clear from the beginning that Taylor was playing around with her creativity, but had also reached a new level with it that you had to really look for in order to understand. Like all masterpieces, there is a lot under the surface.

Interestingly enough, 1989 was another classic example of Taylor’s music ringing true in my own experiences and somehow matching up with my life. If you listen to her talk about her newest album, she often tells about how she was ready to go to a new point in her creative process and do things that she’d never done before. She was ready to challenge herself and, in a way, start over.

Coming home from my religious mission, I too was at a point where I was ready to take all the good things I’d learned and begin again. I was ready to stretch myself, discover new things about myself, and start over. And as I made those first steps, I did it with the songs of 1989 playing in the background. Today I just wanted to share a few of these observations and experiences with you:

  • About a month after I returned home I was having a really bad day, being bogged down with some very emotional and sensitive issues. I remember that at that long livemoment I was listening to the song Clean on repeat as I drove aimlessly around. The lyrics seemed to match perfectly with what I was feeling and over the next weeks I found in my own process that I was slowly getting rid of old baggage and becoming clean.
  • Have you ever noticed how the basic beats in the songs: Style, Wildest Dreams, Bad Blood, and Clean to name a few, sound like a heart beat? Powerful songs, messages, and emotions coming right from the heart.
  • Welcome to New York pretty much floored me from the first time. A song about getting to a new place, physical or emotional, and changing your perspective entirely. It is a song about hope.
  • When I first heard Out of the Woods I was a little skeptical. The repetition wasn’t typical Taylor and I had a hard time finding the art in it. To be totally honest, I didn’t realize until fairly recently the artistic value of this song. One of my college professors often asks us what the purpose of repetition is in learning. The answer is simple: so that we learn the material! The more I listen to Out of the Woods the more I realize that it is a song about mistakes, redemption, and fighting for the future.
  • One of the things that I love most about 1989 is that you are tempted to think of it as just another list of love songs…until you look deeper. You realize that Taylor uses the popular, and relatable, theme of love to illustrate different and maybe even bigger issues. I Know Places at first seems like two people in love just wanting to be alone, wildest dreamsaway from the spotlight. But as you listen to it more fully, you realize that each of us have moments when we want to escape everyday pressures and demands and people that drag us down.
  • I really enjoy the song You Are In Love, mostly because of one thought in it, “And you understand now why they lost their minds and fought the wars, and why I’ve spent my whole life trying to put it into words.” It is specifically talking about love here, but it also hints at other things we can’t explain, the deepest feelings of our souls that creativity has yet to find words for. This is a song about discovering things that are so important and crucial to you that the only place you understand them is in your heart.

The more experience I’ve had with 1989, the more I realize that it is an album about changing your life and your perspective, but still maintaining the best pieces of who you are. And in a time when I needed those very things, it was the background music of my life.


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