Taylor Swift, The Songwriter

November 7, 2009 - By Trigger  //  Down with Pop Country  //  11 Comments

Taylor Swift Not CountryTonight (11-6) Taylor Swift will be the host and musical guest of Saturday Night Live. Insert your favorite vomit joke here. If I desired, I could operate a daily blog on how Taylor is either not country, or how her handlers exemplify greed beyond all.

Just this week a controversy brewed about how the new “Platinum” edition of her album Fearless is just a loosely guised marketing scheme. The new edition includes a few new songs, but to get them, Taylor’s glitter-faced pubescent fans have to buy all the songs from the first edition that they already have. The Platinum edition also includes, and I quote, “her video collaboration with T-Pain on ‘Thug Story’.” I can’t make this stuff up people, this is what is being done with “country” music.

But what I want to focus on here is Taylor Swift the songwriter. Taylor Swift apologists love to tell us how she writes her own songs, and I don’t want to take anything away from that. This fact is exemplary in the modern pop country landscape. As Nix just pointed on the message board, out of the 128 songs Tim McGraw has recorded, he “co-wrote” two of them. Carrie Underwood’s new album Play On is getting mixed to bad reviews, with the Star Telegram saying: “Although she makes noise in the press about pushing herself and trying new things, the only variable between albums is who helps write songs. “

But Taylor Swift writing her own songs is where my fascination for her music ends, because Taylor writes soul-less, adolescent frap with rehashed themes stolen from Disneyania, that wouldn’t pass at an open mic night at a student union in freshmen dorms. How anyone with a full compliment of pubic hair, let alone some redneck driving around in a truck could enjoy or even stomach this nonsense is beyond me. Taylor Swift is nursery rhyme Hanna Montana bullshit. But let’s not dwell with generalities here, let me name names. For example, Taylor Swift’s song “Love Story,” seen here in an overproduced setting at last year’s CMA Awards:

Please God someone assure me that I am not the first to point out that the play Romeo & Juliet was a TRAGEDY, and not a love story. The period costumes and the fairy tale themes reek to prattling to Disney-induced mindsets that addle our county’s youth, and is a sad and scary testament to the state and adolescent-minded focus of our culture. How this heartless, nubile slush can even pass as popular music beyond the Nickelodeon demographic is bewildering, and disturbing. The rotation on Lite FM doesn’t even stoop this low, of course, unless they play this song. In a word, it is garbage.

Here’s another example. Hold your nose and take a peek:

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that Taylor Swift has built her empire solely on the backs of 15-year-olds. There are millions of others that listen to this, some as a guilty pleasure, and some as flag-waving fans. No wonder the American youth gestation period is now tickling 30. This isn’t inspiring, it is insipid. It is an example of how the American culture is obsessed with youth, so as not to face the ruinous nature of the present day, and how High School is the beginning and end of life in the unhealthy suburban sprawl mindset. If you’re fifteen and you like this, rock on. If you’re older and like it, for the love of God grow up.

Will Taylor Swift’s songwriting mature as she gets older? We’ll see. But in the meantime I have to conclude that there is not one redeeming aspect that I can take from her music, and no, I will not at least say that she is a prodigy for her age, because there is much more stuff out there written by younger people that has soul, depth of lyrics, and hits on eternal themes of the human condition that inspire or awake an understanding in all of us, instead of weaving us into some sort of past-tense nostalgic reminiscence of better forgotten times.

Youth has always dominated the pop scene, and there is nothing wrong with that, and certainly I have no problem with younger people getting into country music. But how about the rest of us? I know it’s not reasonable to think that all kids should be listening to Hank Williams III, but it is just as unreasonable to think that 30-somethings and beyond can get anything from Taylor Swift more that just a unhealthy nostalgic sugar high.

I just wish there was some way to communicate to the masses, that even though you might like pop country, there is so much more stuff out there that you would enjoy more if you just gave it a chance, and your life would be better for it.

11 Comments to “Taylor Swift, The Songwriter”

  • Your societal evaluation/criticism of Taylor Swift and her lyrics is as uninformed as your knowledge of Romeo and Juliet(which has been re-written numerous times over the centuries by readers unhappy with Shakespeare’s ending). Swift’s use of the teenage love angle of R&J shows and intelligence and sophistication that it is time for country music to accept. Even cowboys can get out of their pick up trucks and let their children go to school and experience life. Swift’s work seems not only age appropriate for her and her audience but holds promise of wonderful things to come as she ages and matures. You don’t agree, clearly, but nothing you say is informed enough to have readers care what you think.


  • Hey notjayc,

    I think you’re being a little presumptuous about my knowledge of Shakespeare. As someone who makes a living as a writer, I know more about Shakespeare than I care to. Let me put it like this, if you asked Shakespeare, who wrote the play, if it is a love story or a tragedy, he would tell you it was a tragedy. I can’t be responsible for all the others who’ve re-written the ending.

    As for her music being age appropriate, that is exactly my point. Her music is age appropriate for 15-year olds, and that is why it belongs on the Disney Channel and not country radio. Adolescents deserve art that caters to them as well, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But my personal definition of “contemporizing” is introducing younger people to music that pushes and enhances their psyche and gets them ready for adulthood, rather than cater to their adolescent drama and mundane high school themes.

    Just my thoughts.


  • Her Father has bought and paid for her entire career.. paid millions to George Strait to get her on his tour.. etc etc.. Everything about her is just a scam. If her Dad wasn’t loaded you’d have never even heard of her.


  • Triggerman, I love your writings, and there is nothing I can add to your rantings about this embryo that has hijacked the good name of country music. She is everything I hate in a nutshell. She is Mcdonalds in a dress.


  • Hmmm, if the very first comment ends with
    “but nothing you say is informed enough to have readers care what you think.”

    Uhh why is he/she here commenting in the first place and furthermore saying “Swift’s work seems not only age appropriate for her” not really a comment you expect from a diehard fan totally familiar with her work – I mean “seems” – don’t they actually know?!!

    Anyway for some really bad news check here:

    and in relation to the above link,what gets me is, since when is a “New Artist” an ex vocalist of a band gone solo, surely the pickings aren’t that lean over there.

    I’m from Australia, in case you’re wondering.

    Cheers…the dog


  • Dear notjayc,
    If I changed the ending of Romeo and Juliet to something funny, would that mean that Shakespeare had written a comedy?


  • by the way triggerman, if that’s the way her fans think, you may need to start up a saving intelliegence and sophistication site.


  • For the record, has anybody else in country ever come from a family that has a rich stock broker father (or mother)? That’s as far from country as you can get! Too bad Daddy Swift didn’t hold off on her career maybe with the market crashing they would have gone broke & the airways would be safe today.
    BTW notjayc, I take it your a young fan of Taylor’s? Because if you talk to anyone outside of her Lollypop land, you’d find out that when you mention “Romeo & Juliet” that it’s a tragedy. It’s not a love story, both die desperately at their own hand in the end. IT sickens me to hear that people (like you & Taylor) are rewriting classic literature, just because you didn’t like the way it ended. Well it’s time to grow up, when you become an adult you’ll see not everything ends in roses & sunshine like Taylor trys to tell you it does. I always like to tell the kiddies to stop & think before they waste their parents hard earned money; in today’s world employment is harder than ever to keep… So wasting your mother/fathers hard earned dough on Taylor Swift is sickening & you should ask youself: Do you really think Taylor gives a damn about you? NO!


  • I live in Holland, where there’s no such thing as country radio to begin with. Even Taylor Swift is considered ‘niche’ here. All radio is targeted towards the lowest common denominator, and the music played has to be guaranteed to offend the least amount of people. Or as Frank Zappa once said: “Happy music for happy people with happy problems”.

    I can’t remember what the latest album was that I bought from hearing a track on the radio, and yet I still buy truckloads of cd’s and vinyl. There will always be good new music, you just have to find it yourself.


  • I really don’t understand the appeal towards Romeo and Juliet. Yes it is a tragedy, but it is only a tragedy because they were teenagers. Who convinced themselves that they were so much in love with eachother; that in the event that one of them dies, the other should kill themself. Maybe it’s just me. But if either of Romeo and Juliet have understood the love that they claim they were in; they would have seen that love gives you hope, not death. I really believe that if Taylor Swift had actually read the play (not see it a theater), she would know that. And she would have stayed true to the story. Her song would have been a lot more popular, maybe not as catchy or as fast, but it would have a good message in it. For anyone to listen to, not just fifteen year old girls hooked on the Disney/fairytale scene. Well, this is just my opinion.


  • Taylor Swift is just another example of the right people being hired to get the masses to drink the Kool-Aid. I don’t buy her “songwriting prowess” either. Everything I’ve ever heard her do or any lyrics I’ve Googled are all surface-level screeds about boys, and nothing else. Like the writer made note of, there are far more revealing, dare I say “deeper” things written by people younger or near to Taylor’s age. Jack Keats only lived to be about 25 and wrote some of the best poetry in any language. Townes Van Zandt was only 19 or 20 when he wrote “Waiting Around to Die.”


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