Just for fun Life in general

Big Changes; Swift Action

Lots going on in my life these days; most folks who know me know this, but my last day at Smith Engineering was February 9, 2024. This also represents a step away from higher education marketing career-wise; big news coming, but not until March.

“Coming down” from a job you’ve put a lot of your brain and identity into for years is a process. I was fortunate to be asked by friends of friends to house-sit / dog-sit for this very good, very silly boy for a week:

…which gave me a week of decompressing, partly getting ready for the Next Thing, lots of dog-walking, etc.

I’ve never really listened to Taylor Swift, but both of my nieces are bananas for her. Big Swifties. And there’s nothing wrong with that! I just run my own music server / support, so my listening doesn’t generally include stuff I don’t intend it to. And while I’m trying to be less snobbish than I used to be, the culture around Swift wasn’t one where I felt compelled to seek it out and listen to her music.

But — time on my hands, and looking to reset my brain in some significant ways — I challenged my nieces that if they would make me playlists of up to 15 songs, I would give them an earnest listen.

And they did (their mom said it was “the hardest she’d ever seen them work on something like homework”). So I did!

I’m a big fan of my reMarkable, so I used it to write while I gave these songs a Whole Listen. I have no idea why anyone would be interested in these, but my wife suggested I post them for posterity, so if you’re looking for a 50-year-old man’s perspective on lists of Taylor Swift songs compiled by two teens, here y’go:

I can’t say I’d be lining up for tickets (especially at these prices), but I have to say I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. And that it’s a lot more maudlin than I expected! I was thinking it was all pop bangers — “Look What You Made Me Do” is the only Taylor Swift song I can summon to memory — but there’s a whole subcategory of Swift songs I now call the “piano sads”.

Really impressed with the songwriting, the lyrics. Would be more enthused if she seemed to have any way of positioning herself and her life other than the present state of whatever relationship she’s in (but maybe, again, this is just a reflection of where my nieces are at in their song choices).

I’ve also been thinking a bit about why I’ve been so out of the Swift orbit; the fair question for myself, I think, is to ask why I’ve been quasi-avoiding this very popular, very successful female singer/songwriter, and would I duck out on male pop stars the same way?

And… having given it some thought, I feel okay. I can think of a number of Very Big acts that I’ve also never really made time for, across a number of spectrums, so I don’t think there’s anything there. But it’s good to ask yourself periodically where the “I’m not interested in what this person has to say” instinct comes from. In this case I think it’s just the form, and if I’m honest a bit of New Country stink in the background, that drove the disinterest.

On the whole, a really worthwhile exercise. I feel like I have a better understanding of a big piece of the zeitgeist right now.

By mattshepherd

I love storytelling, and helping organizations share their truth with the world. From non-profit media outlets to for-profit boutique agencies to one of Canada's great universities, I've been connecting institutions and stakeholders for a while, and enjoying both the journey and seeing great ideas find great audiences.