For those that have been dancing with us since the beginning, you probably were witness to many very famous acts that came and performed at our venue, Ned Devine’s (Sterling) back then. Some of the performers included Jason Michael Carroll, Tracy Byrd, Rascal Flatts, and many more including one in particular that has scarred me for life… Taylor Swift.
Let me set the stage for you (no pun intended). Taylor had just released her first song, “Tim McGraw” and had opening for her, Jason Michael Carroll. No one really new Jason at the time, but when he walked out onto the stage with his 1990’s rocker-like long hair, nobody was really paying attention, but as soon as he opened his mouth, man did things change! He literally shut the place up with his voice and we were in awe. Once Jason wrapped up though, this young girl came out onto the stage with her guitar and started singing what could only be considered average after listening to Jason (poor pairing in my opinion by the tour manager).
However, it wasn’t her average singing voice that really turned me and so many people off of her that day. It was that she was in a bar where everyone there had to be 21 or older to enter and she was singing about meeting a boy at a locker (I don’t think this song ever made it to a recording, thank goodness), her first kiss and other teenybopper topics that we all had long since put behind us (and most of us would rather not relive). To me, it was the equivalent of bringing Miley Cyrus into a biker bar… it just wasn’t a fit. It was a case of not knowing your audience and I blame her tour manager for this more than her, but it still set me off on an anti-Taylor music crusade.
People will also comment that her skills as a guitarist and songwriter also make her so “talented”. Again, I disagree. On the guitar, she can pluck a few cords, but nothing to the likes of Brad Paisley or even Keith Urban (check out this cool video of them jamming on the GOO with some other famous names). Plus, being able to play a guitar in country music is almost a rite of passage, so meeting that skill set just puts her at par with others. And as for her writing skills… well, for the pre-teens and teenagers out there, it’s probably fantastic, but outside of this targeted audience, it’s hit or miss as to whether people think it’s any good (I think you know my opinion by now).
So, as I watched her climb the charts, I was just baffled and a little annoyed that people, like the aforementioned Jason Michael Carroll who, in my opinion, had far more talent and relatable subject matter, just sputtered. I thought it was a complete marketing gimmick and therefore boycotted her music, not only in my class, but on my own radio (I’d just turn it off when I heard her in a form of protest).
My feelings toward her started to soften over the past few years as I couldn’t help but admit that, although I still felt her talent was just average, she was an excellent role model for teenage girls. While flipping through my guilty pleasure of Us Weekly, I would regularly see her doing good deeds and standing up for herself and others. She refused to go the trampy ways of Miley Cyrus or Britney Spears and was true to herself. She hasn’t gotten crazy tattoos, doesn’t wear trashy clothes and is never seen out partying it up. She’s truly a “good girl” and even though she has finally moved into her 20s and is starting to develop more mature lyrics, she knows who her target audience is (young girls) and maintains an image that they can follow.
So, while I likely will never be caught buying a Taylor Swift album, I do truly respect her and am glad that she has found the niche that has launched her to a platform where she can really do good in the world. I have even succumbed to listening to her songs when they come on the radio and sometimes find myself singing along (I’ll admit she is getting better as she gets older). As long as I don’t have to relive my own awkward teenage years when the music comes on and she continues to be the sweet, kind person she is, she will have my full support and who knows… maybe one day, we’ll even dance to one of her songs.