Last month, Taylor Swift released her sixth album, entitled Reputation. I haven't really stayed on top of the news surrounding her in the last year, mostly because I've been focused on other things. Even so, when the album was released, I felt this sudden need to memorize the new fifteen songs, and at first I wasn't sure why. It's not that I loved every song, quite the contrary, actually. There are a few I like quite a lot, but there are others I'm pretty sure I'd skip if I bought them and they showed up on shuffle. No, I think my sudden need to memorize every lyric was instead due to my past with Taylor Swift herself.
In middle school, I didn't like talking about music. Not because I didn't like it or didn't listen to anything, but because I didn't want anyone to judge me based on the kind of music I liked. If I was asked what kind of music I liked, I'd usually shrug and say I was more into books than music, and that would typically end the conversation. But then something happened.
I found Taylor Swift.
When I was ten, I was in a ballet class that used Love Story as the background music for our end-of-year recital. This had been my official introduction to the world of Swift's music, but it wasn't until seventh grade (three years later) that I became obsessed. When I'd finish my homework, the first thing I would do was go onto youtube and watch music video after music video. I got hooked during the Red era, but I found myself listening to the Speak Now album on repeat while doing homework. My favorite videos were from Fearless, and her debut, self-titled album had songs that resinated with me, too.
As I dove deeper and deeper into who Taylor Swift was, I found many similarities between us. We both have brothers that are two years younger, and they happen to have the same name. We're both blonde, which ended up being extremely comforting during high school when I was one of three blonde people in the entire school.
When I was in eighth grade, my mom and I went to visit the area we'd be moving to in about two months. While there, I mentioned that I liked Taylor Swift, and that prompted the mother of my soon-to-be best friend to introduce me to her daughter. I spent the entire summer texting her about our favorite songs, and she introduced me to other music that as since become some of my favorites.
I have Taylor Swift to thank for my friendships the first two years of high school. I have her to thank for getting me through middle school. I have her to thank for giving me an answer to my least favorite question. So I feel the need to memorize the fifteen new songs because it's almost as though I owe her something. But in reality, I don't owe her anything. My music tastes have changed, and that's okay. If it was anyone else, I probably would have stopped listening to them long ago. This was different because of this history, and that's okay too. But I should be able to go on to other things that bring me more joy, and grow further as both a person and as someone who loves music.