Fine, Taylor Swift, I Give Up and Like You

If you want to write a country song that gets on the radio right now, the easiest path seems to be one of those The List songs. Now, The List song in country music has a long and illustrious history. There’s the The Old Guys List where once or twice a generation, someone gets depressed about how much country music these days sucks and decides that singing a song that name-checks Johnny Cash or Hank Williams will somehow make their song not suck. Rarely, very rarely does this work. And who are you going to name-check now? “Oh, I long for the good old days when we all listened to Garth?”

You see the problem? Garth, love him or hate him, does not hearken back to country history. He’s pretty much the start of “let’s sound like 70s rock.” I think you could name-check George Strait, but he’s still kicking around. I don’t think he’s going to be happy to be put in the category of “People we used to listen to and to whom we should still show respect.” I’m sure fucking George Strait is all “Hey, people still listen to me. A lot of people. Don’t be shipping me off to the old folks’ home yet, when my songs are still higher than yours on the charts.”

So, then there’s the other The List song. In this The List song, it’s all about how we are so country, y’all. And then it lists all the ways we’re so downhome and country. Like the Naming of our Ancestors list song, there are some, a very few, actual good songs in this sub-category–“Redneck Woman” for one. But in general, if you turn on a country music station today, you will be inundated with 30 minutes of every hour being terrible “We’re so country, y’all” list songs.

And among those, you may hear a different song. A song that goes “Some day I’ll be living in a big ole city.”

God bless you, Taylor Swift. God bless you. Possibly this would not be as good a song if there weren’t so many “we’re so country, y’all” list songs out right now. But there are, so this is.

21 thoughts on “Fine, Taylor Swift, I Give Up and Like You

  1. You always hear about her songs being heavily inspired by her life but I have a hard time buying a scenario where she’s being bullied.

    The two thoughts that came to mind….

    1) It’s like her version of the ‘it gets better’ videos.
    2) Who ever came up with the concept for that video has been watching entirely too much ‘Glee’.

  2. I’m with KateO. I stopped trying to find legitimate reasons to dislike her several years ago.

    W, I can tell you from personal experience that H’ville is a surprisingly bullying place, and that’s only based on two years. I can only imagine how it would’ve been if I’d grown up there…

  3. 1) she’s a fine songwriter, maybe the best being played on country radio right now in terms of giving you observed life since Toby Keith decided to take his inflatable dolls and go home. I only hope that as she grows older she matures and starts writing about adult experiences.

    2) she can’t sing a lick — no breath control, can’t hit the notes. This could be fixed if she’d take some voice lessons, probably, but until I hear it live I will assume that any note being hit is Pro-Tooled.

    3) I believe she’s on record as saying that this song was inspired by a bad review. I believe the reviewer said she can’t hit the notes. Suck it up, girl. When you get out on stage people get to give their opinions of what you do out there.

  4. Mark, I now expect a swarm of young women will descend upon you… oh, yeah, good plan!

    nm, really, what the fuck happened with Toby Keith?

  5. Mark, she’s writing songs about teenaged girls’ experiences that ring very true to me. And she’s writing them with a lot of the concrete detail that helps to make a good country song. So I wouldn’t call her a no-talent.

    B, I know. I mean, he was everywhere and now he’s nowhere. And despicable as his persona is, he can write a song and sing. It can’t all have suddenly disappeared. I like to think that no one will write about him any more b/c he was nasty to Peter Cooper, but that’s just fantasy on my part.

  6. The thing I find strange is that Keith should have a long career. He writes good songs (even the ones I don’t like, I see the skill in) and he’s got a nice voice. Plus, he’s got a nice physical presence.

    Trace Adkins has a lot of… unfortunate… qualities and yet he’s still making music. I’m going to pretend that it’s because he makes music about liking women.

  7. nm beat me to why I don’t really dig TS. BUT the reason I do like her is she’s not using the lowest common denominator to sell her songs: sex.

    Plus, she’s a good role model. She is nice to people. She seems truly grateful for where she finds herself in life. She also gives back — I quit making fun of her after her, (what was it?) half- million dollars to flood relief.

  8. TA is still around because he does novelty songs. TK, I dunno. I’m sure he’s burned a lot of bridges. But also, it’s hard to get much traditional-sounding stuff on the radio these days. He’s still putting out albums, right?

  9. I had heard (anecdotally) that Keith was having trouble staying sober enough to perform on his tours. He wouldn’t be the first talented country music singer to have substance abuse probs sufficient to keep him from doing his thing.

  10. I had to look up on Wikipedia to see if TK was still making music and he is, apparently. He had an album last year that, according to Wikipedia, is one of his best.

    So, maybe he’s just fallen off our radar. Or the wagon. Either one.

  11. I’d be sorry to hear he was losing it over drinking. The guy sure piled the pressure on himself; better to unload some of it than to self-medicate in that particular way.

    OTOH, maybe he’s planning on doing a full-blown Steve Earle: disappear for 5 years, bottom out, get clean, come back for a second round with an improved character.

  12. I remember reading something about Keith in EW, i think it was. I came away with the impression that he’s dealing with a lot of personal issues and also with a lot of people not knowing what to make of him. Like he said that the harsher right stuff was an act to sell records and that turned off his main fanbase.

    But I’m dimly recalling this, so I dunno. As for Taylor Swift, I’m still not 100% sure who she is.

  13. I just dropped my kid off for a couple of days of sleepaway camp where she is going to be harassed (she knows) by two girls who were her best friends at the start of the year but have now created a clique and my daughter’s the outlier/target of their meanness.

    Before she left, I played this for her without comment and she said “It’s catchy. And hahaha, I mean, now she’s Taylor Swift and the people who were mean to her are still sad fartbrains, just older.” Yep. Ms. Swift connects very powerfully to the emotional experiences of her demographic.

  14. I’m still so irritated at TSwift for pulling that delicate white flower baby girl shit over the Kanye madness that I’m not likely to get over it. You are not a teenager. Grow up and act like it.

  15. Toby Keith has not dropped out of sight in Oklahoma. I suspect he’ll surface again on the national stage.

    Taylor Swift has some songwriting talent, but until she has some life experience beyond high school I won’t find her very interesting.

  16. Okay, I know Swift has her fans and defenders.

    Anyone read Lefsetz’s Letter? Bob Leftzet writes about the music industry and if I’m not mistaken he’s in Nashville. Maybe. He can be a pompous name dropping Apple fanboy but occasionally he writes w/ great insight abt the industry.

    After one of Swift’s award show performances he ripped into her performance. Her voice was just awful live, off key, reed thin. Swift’s people descended upon him like locusts at the Apocalypse. He chronicled all this in his letter. He would not waiver.

    Then Swift herself called him to defend herself and her weak performance. They effectively lobbied him to change his tune on Swift. He stopped talking about how bad she is and started going on about her songwriting. It’s good because she appeals to young girls? Bollocks! That only makes her popular, not talented.

    The story shows two things ( at least) 1) Lefsetz can be bought 2) how completely manufactured Swift is as an artist. UGH.

  17. Yeah, Mark, that’s the review that supposedly sparked this song. And it was probably an accurate review. I mean, I wasn’t at the show, but I’ve seen her “live on TV” and she is a dreadful singer. (And, as I said, she is going to have to learn to sing or else learn to accept the reviews. Her public reactions when things don’t go just her way are ridiculously immature.) But her songs are better than her singing or her show. It’s not that they just appeal to young girls — they appeal to young girls because they reflect young girls’ experiences the same way that, say, the songs of a Loretta Lynn or a Bobby Braddock reflect adult experiences. Which is why they also appeal to a lot of critics who are not young girls, who tend to agree that she can’t sing, and who admire her work nonetheless.

  18. Well, this is kind of why I feel bad for Swift. I mean, I’m willing to bet she’s not familiar with the term “white privilege” and yet, whew, she’s benefiting from being young and cute and blond and thin. There are a lot of ways in which she is obviously benefiting from being a type.

    I’m not going to begrudge her that. We all have to make money how we can.

    But I don’t think that she gets that this isn’t really about her as a person. It could be any young, cute, white, blond, thin girl who needed defending from West or who had to be indulged when she called up and begged to be reconsidered.

    I like this song, but I don’t think her critics are wrong. And I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of patience with her as she tries to grow into an adult artist.

    They’ll just find the next young blond thin white girl.

  19. @Mark,

    I read The Lefsetz Letter. I recall the post about him speculating how “Mean” might be about him, but not the one prior. Anyway, I don’t think he’s in Nashville – too small a town to hide out here anonymously. I always get the impression that he’s either in Colorado or California.

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