Jennifer (Taylor’s Version)

Jennifer (Taylor’s Version) November 15, 2023

Neither my daughter nor I were Swifties enough to try to go the ERAS Tour concerts, but so many of her friends are Swifties and it was enough of a school buzz going around that she wanted to go to the ERAS Tour movie, so we went, and we really enjoyed it, and I guess we are kind of Swifties now, and here are some things I thought, both at the time and since.

  1.  Glitter. So much glitter. Do not underestimate the appeal of Taylor Swift to the inner 12-year-old playing dress-up and very excited raccoon inside each of her fans. Shiny!
  2. I discovered during the course of the movie that Swift’s oeuvre was divided into songs of hers I didn’t know, songs of hers I did know, and songs I did know but didn’t know were by Swift because they had just seeped into my ears from everywhere.
  3. B. D. McClay has written well and at length on the fact that you can never know the Real Person TM when a star is of this magnitude, but the image Swift projects from the stage, despite her beauty and enviable wardrobe and billion dollars, is that she is the world’s biggest dork, she’s having a ton of fun singing these songs, and she’s really thrilled and surprised all 50,000 of you showed up.
  4. I think the line between still viewing the world (as a woman) as though women are the exception who must fight for their place in a man’s world, and viewing the world as though men and women are both people and it’s a shame men sometimes get obnoxious about that, runs between Gen X and millennial women. My reaction to “The Man” (which is a great song) was amazement that Swift could start, did start, as a lyricist from the presumption that the problem was outside her and not inside her. It was an empowering moment. (For me, I mean.)
  5. A corollary to #4: gosh, “Last Great American Dynasty.” What a song about knowing who you are and who you’re not. I’m nearly 52 and I’m not yet ready to say I had a marvelous time ruining everything.
  6. There’s an entire academic paper to be written about men driving cars, usually not well, in Swift’s lyrics, keying off of the moment in “All Too Well” where she gets tossed the car keys. You’re welcome.
  7.  As a corollary to #6, listen to the adoption of country tropes in “Our Song” followed by the subversion of them in “Picture to Burn” from her very first album (which came out when she was seventeen for crying out loud) and you can see her entire future career in embryo. (“Our Song” was supposedly written when she was in 9th grade. It feels like it in its earnest naivete, but it’s also a whole lot better than anything I could have come up with in 9th grade.)
  8. I put “Anti-Hero” on my 40 Days of Lent Music playlist even before I truly got into Swift’s music and I am ready to fight all comers on this. It’s Romans 7 with a bop. This is BTW the one moment where the cinematography of the movie – which by and large made you feel like you were at the concert* – failed, because the performance really depends on the contrast between Godzilla Taylor on the screen and Tiny Confident Taylor with the band, and we needed more Godzilla Taylor (a line I never thought I’d write.)
  9. Now I know “Champagne Problems” (language alert if you need one) and “You’re On Your Own Kid.” Good grief, good stuff, 11/10, no notes.
  10. Long Live” undid me. I mean, it’s a 21-year-old writing about growing old, by rights it should be cringy, I made entries in that book myself when I was 21. But it’s not cringy. Instead it’s haunted. We will always glimpse glory only for a moment. We will always look backwards. Fate will always force the goodbye, no matter how hard that is for any given 21-year-old to believe.

Image: Unsplash.

* At one point I found myself thinking “Maybe she’ll do an encore” and then remembering I could literally look this up because it was a movie.

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