Alright. So when I first listened to Taylor Swift’s new album Speak Now over two weeks ago, and heard for the first time the song “Mean,” I have to admit that it crossed my mind that the song might be about me. And not me as one Taylor Swift critic among many, but me, The Triggerman, the benevolent dictator of Saving Country Music, specifically.
But then I laughed off the idea and let it die. To think a song on Taylor’s album specifically targeted me seemed the utmost of conceit, and I was a little embarrassed for even letting my brain go there. And moreover, the thought of asserting this idea publicly seemed like the mother of all ego strokes. So I buried the idea and went about my business.
However apparently I am not the only one who has had that thought. Numerous people have told me when they first heard the song they though of your lovable Triggerman, and few others who had never heard of me before, but are hard at work scouring the dirty internet trying to figure out who this “Mean” person is, have contacted me with inquiries as well.
And let’s not gloss over the gravity of what being the target of this song means. Speak Now sold over a million copies in its first week. It is already one of the biggest albums in 3 years, and at this rate, will possibly be the biggest album in all of music in the last 7 years–in a period where the music industry is going through heroic contraction. Also most people these days are buying music by the song, not albums, but again Taylor is bucking the trend, selling well across all formats. Speak Now might go down as the last great American album. Not “great” in content necessarily, but as the last album that was successful on a grand scale before the MP3/.99 cent song format dominated music. “Mean” was also chosen as a single off this album, so this is not some buried track.
One reason I recused myself from consideration initially was because I thought the song could possibly be about Taylor’s critics in general, and not about anyone specifically. Or at least this is what I kept telling myself, when the other half of my brain was latching on to the hints Taylor dropped in the song that seem to point the guilty finger right at me. What hints?
Well first, there’s only a few people that truly can fit the mold of being the “Mean” muse. Taylor has yet to reveal who it is obviously, but as I was trying to find evidence of why I was NOT the marked man, I ran across her talking about the song in an album preview video, where she narrowed the field pretty harshly, and dispelled my previous conceit that it is not about a specific individual:
…there is a line that you cross when you start to attack everything about a person. And there’s one guy man, who just crossed the line over and over again, and just being mean, and just saying things that would ruin my day.
So that eliminates all the femmes. Sorry ladies. And it eliminates any critic who might have spoken out against Taylor, but only once. And it would also have to be someone with the rocks to “cross the line” with Taylor, though to be fair, whether the “Mean” man is me or someone else, everybody’s line is set in a different place, and speaking for myself, I have tried to never attack Taylor Swift personally, except maybe in obvious sarcasm.
It would also have to be someone with a public forum. It couldn’t be joe shmo bitching at his local bar, and someone who Taylor for whatever reason would be able and inclined to read/hear/see this criticism or “meanness” from. If you go to your search engine of choice and type in “Taylor Swift Not Country” or a similar string of words, Saving Country Music will come up first. (Please, open a new tab and try yourself at home). It also used to come up first when you put in “Taylor Swift Can’t Sing,” until it got bumped a few spots to third by more optimized sites like taylorswiftcantsing.com.
So it happens to be that I fit all of these criteria. As do a very select few others, including Dan from taylorswiftcantsing, though I don’t see Taylor frequenting a site like that unless the is an absolute glutton for punishment. I have scoured the internet try to find any other additional matches and have come up short. That leads us to the hints that Taylor drops in the song.
The main reason I thought when I first heard “Mean” that it was about me was one specific line, “But the cycle ends right now.” It comes across in the song a little out of left field, and doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the lyrics. It almost sounds like it was put in as a hint.
Back in February, after Taylor Swift bombed some vocal performances on the Grammys, I wrote what possibly could be my best blog ever called I Told You Taylor Swift Can’t Sing. Most people read the title and skimmed through the words, but the theme of that article when right over their heads, including Taylor’s, possibly. Believe it or not, I did not criticize Taylor anew, except to state facts and quote previous criticisms to help set the context for the overall point of the blog, which was to, believe it or not, humanize Taylor and offer sympathy. The article was about what I characterized as the “vicious pop cycle,” where average talents are built up by the pop industry, only to be torn down:
People across the board are now tearing down Taylor because she can’t sing, but this is the same public that made her the biggest artist in country this year, and now in ALL of music with her “Album of the Year” Grammy win. This is the vicious pop cycle, and sorry, but FUCK YOU, I won’t participate.
…the mass public overly glorifies an otherwise average talent to make themselves feel “inspired,” and then when the fall starts for their starlet, it is meteoric, and fueled by the jealous, narcissistic hunger of the pop public, tearing that person down with all their spite, sinking their nails into their flesh and feeding like animals off their destruction to fill their vacuous egos. It is a sick, pathetic, and all too predictable cycle that I will not participate in.
Well the pop cycle has started, and soon the words “Taylor Swift” will be a punch line to jokes, uttered by those same “fans,” while Taylor the person is onset with personal demons.
There are some more subtle hints and suggestions as well, one being that this is the most country song that Taylor has ever recorded, and not according to me, but according to her producer Nathan Chapman. What is a more fitting way to counter-attack a country blogger spewing how you’re not country than with the most contrified song you can muster?
Also in the song Taylor calls Mr. Mean “A Liar, and pathetic, and alone in life.” It has become almost comical how predictable it is when I write a negative article about Taylor or any pop country star, that the fans come to defend their artist by making wild eyed assumptions about me personally that are never correct, instead of defending the music or artist they love based on substance.
So there is the evidence. Regardless if “Mean” is about me or not, I plan on writing a response to Taylor soon. But in the meantime I want to hear from YOU, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. The evidence has been laid out. Is “Mean” about me?