Background for the reader: After Beyonce’s album 4 came out, I was kind of convinced the entire thing was based off of one year or my life and she had like, listened in on my therapy sessions or something. Sometimes music really gets to you.
For years I actively rode the indifference fence when it came to having an opinion about one, Taylor Swift. I could (and still) acknowledge that she is an incredibly talented individual, I just was never a fan.
And then one summer, I listened to “Mean” a lot. Like, a lot. And then, Red happened.
It all happened so fast. The album was released, I downloaded it immediately and I listened to it on repeat for weeks. After a few weeks I really started to listen to the lyrics and for some reason, they resonated. THEY MADE ME FEEL. Everything was different. I was different.
I was red. Or something.
I learned a few things about myself and others as I played this album on repeat. For months.
Being miserable is magical.
In “22” Swift describes being happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time as miserable and magical. She was right. Being free, at times, can be lonely. And being alone, at times, is miserable at the same time it’s magical. It’s like she was telling everyone it was okay to be alone on a Friday watching Dateline and feeling happy about it, but also sad. You’re happy because you love Dateline, but you’re also watching Dateline alone on a Friday. Confusing, are feelings.
Holding the door open for people matters.
Swift fell in love because someone said, “Hello” and opened the door for her. Preach, sister! I will punch at the glass ceiling for the rest of my life, willingly, but damn if I don’t want a guy to open the door for me. She’s a successful woman and she thinks opening the door for someone can be life changing. Me too, Taylor. Me too.
Saying “Hello” is a regular thing.
Also, maybe guarding your heart isn’t that overrated and “hello” shouldn’t be that life-altering. Greeting people upon entering or leaving a place is fairly normal thing and maybe shouldn’t be read into all that much. But, this is coming from someone who routinely gets into squabbles with housemates over saying hi every. single. time. someone enters the home. Maybe see what the person says AFTER “hello”? Can you really love someone because they opened the door for you?
Some people hurt you, but you can meet better people who won’t.
Romantic relationship or not– people hurt people. Taylor tells her harrowing story of love loss and beginning again in, “Begin Again.” She meets a boy who has made her forget about some other jerk. Friends hurt you, boys hurt you. To steal one from R.E.M. “everybody hurts,” but not every human in the world is terrible. You just have to move on and put the past in the past.
When you know, you know.
Typically, this is reserved for “knowing” you’ve found the right one. But, sometimes you know immediately that someone is the wrong one and you should probably listen to your gut on that one. When you find yourself in a relationship with someone who is all wrong for you, you often lose a part of yourself or compromise something you normally wouldn’t. In, “I Knew You Were Trouble” Swift sings to this notion and places the blame on herself. This, though painful at times, is a freeing thought. It’s not always the other person’s fault that you got involved with them. Shifting the blame off others and onto yourself is like, GROWTH. We’ll all figure it out someday.
Playing it safe is dangerous.
My dad is one of those guys that, growing up, preached safety in every imaginable situation. The man would slam on the brakes, while driving down the interstate, if I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt. Which, could’ve ended poorly, but usually only ended in me wearing my seatbelt. In “Treacherous,” Swift preaches the exact opposite, encouraging each of us (at some point, I had to imagine she wasn’t just talking to me) to daydream and hope, though it may turn out treacherous. Mostly, she says that playing it safe isn’t worth the trouble. Why not dream? Why not go after what you want? I know she’s mostly talking about love here, but it can be applied to almost all life situations. Being scared isn’t only reserved for romance.
Maseratis aren’t for everyone.
There are times when it’s right and it’s good. It’s so right and good, it’s like driving a Maserati. Even Maseratis need the oil changed. In “Red” Swift examines the complexities of a perfect relationship gone sour. She looks back on the relationship and sees just how unperfect the whole thing really was and that it’s time to let go. If it were only that easy, right? But, if you can only drive the Maserati down a dead end street, should you be driving it at all?
There did come a time when a co-worker marched into my office and told me I had to stop listening to Red. She acted like I needed to quit listening forever, but I think she was really telling me to get out there and live a little more like Taylor would want me to live– just dreamin’ and hopin’ and livin’.
Just red, you know.