Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Shake It Off

Haven’t always been a huge Taylor Swift fan. I’ve gone back and forth, honestly.

Don’t worry … this won’t turn into another Young-Singing-Sensation Absurdly-Intense-Fan Club trolling session. … Will it? I guess I’m not the one who’s in charge of deciding whether that’ll happen.

Which is kinda the point of this thought that I offer up.

Early on, I kinda chalked Ms. Swift up as the work of the American music pop star generation factory. Just another pop songstress whom I can’t really distinguish from any other, whether I’m looking or listening. Ho hum.

Then I heard a couple of tunes of hers which I thought were kinda toe-tapping.

Then I saw a video clip from one of her concerts, wherein James Taylor came onstage and prepared to play along with her. Well, if JT will go on with you, you must not be utterly worthless. The guy has standards. And she was going to sing “Fire and Rain” with him. And she suggested he was a big musical inspiration. Well alright … that would not have been the first time I’d developed “appreciation by association”.

The performance, to my ears, was okay. I think I went in with absurdly high expectations, so I didn’t finish the video in a swoon. I absolutely appreciated her very cute fangirl appreciation of JT after they got done singing. So … okay, I guess. (…Was my opinion. Your mileage may vary. Take a look, make up your own mind, don’t go running pell-mell at my comment section. For gosh sake.)

More recently, there was this kicky tune that I heard used as transition music into a segment of one of my favorite political radio shows. So I Googled the lyrics, and discovered what probably 98 percent of the rest of the Earth already knew.

Shake It Off”.

Oh, is THAT what that is?

Neat. Lots of pep band potential there. Must consult a copyright lawyer and then get arranging!

Still couldn’t figure out whether Ms. Swift was a mezzo, or an alto, or heck, a tenor at some moments. Or all of the above. (The refrain of “Shake It Off” gets down to the F in the middle of the bass clef, for all you music theory hounds.) But y’know, a listenable voice. At least as listenable as anyone else populating the pop charts now, and more so than some.

On social media, there have been many, many Buzzfeed-titled articles about how mind-blowingly brilliant Taylor Swift was. Look! She did this amazing thing! She reacted to something in this certain way! She said this certain thing that no one else on earth could possibly have come up with!! …

Okay, everyone. Stand down from red alert. I know people who come up with brilliance every single day and they don’t go Facebook-viral – and they deserve to.

Some of Ms. Swift’s activities were pretty clever, admittedly. Others were probably, I judged (and there’s the key word), blown a little out of proportion by writers who were highly enamored of Ms. Swift’s charms. Somehow, I felt like the vast majority of “look what clever thing this clever celebrity has done cleverly” pieces were Taylor Swift Moments, and I tended to think, “enough already. Widen that perspective. Big wide world out there. Say, have we heard from George Takei lately?”

Again … back and forth, back and forth.

I saw a piece this week, though, that detailed an Amazing And Clever Thing that Ms. Swift had done, and I gained a little more weird admiration for her, as well as a bit of sympathy for what caused her to think she needed to do this Amazing And Clever Thing.

The story headline read, “Taylor Swift spent a Totally Normal Afternoon Hiking Backward”.

Okay, I’ll bite. What’s up?

A fan posted a picture of Swift hiking backwards accompanied by a body guard [sic] to Tumblr questioning what possessed the pop star to utilize that particular method of transportation.

[Swift] explained to fans that she employs the technique to avoid the paparazzi and assured worried Swifties that her security team was making sure she didn’t fall off a cliff.”

After the hike, Ms. Swift posted a note online reading,

I saw the guy with the camera and wasn’t in the mood so I hiked the whole trail backwards and my security told me when to make turns.

Ah, the tranquility of the great outdoo-


For openers, I worried about Ms. Swift’s physical state, after that. Having marched in a college band that moved pretty quickly at times, both forwards and backwards; and having been a drum major of that band and therefore spent long periods of time marching backwards at a decent clip … I can only imagine what the backs of Ms. Swift’s legs felt like the next morning. Let’s just say breakfast in bed might have been a necessity, not a thoughtful gift.

So I’m guessing that “Shake It Off” is Ms. Swift’s version of “Not Ready To Make Nice” … even if it perhaps doesn’t deal with quite as dire a situation as that Dixie Chicks song did (i.e. death threats in the wake of public comments about current events) … and it maybe won’t win a Grammy for Song Of The Year, as did “Not Ready” … and maybe that’s probably about right, musically speaking …

But Ms. Swift is a regular human who doesn’t get to have a regular human life, the benefits of fame and fortune aside. Unfortunately she’s in a business where, if you want a moment or an afternoon of privacy, you probably don’t get it. Even if she doesn’t put out another song in the next ten years, she’ll still deal with this. The likelihood of a gentle fade into obscurity, if at some future time she would like to have one, is very small indeed.

So, regardless of whether I just LOVE absolutely ALL of her songs, and think EVERYthing she DOES in public is BRILLIANT … I do admire her apparent understanding of, and willingness to creatively play, the game. She’s done so for quite a long time now, and again, I’m willing to bet she’ll find creative ways to do so for quite a long time to come.

And I think I will not post something snarky and condescending, on the day when she finally does succumb to being a regular human, and lose it, and tell all her pursuers in no uncertain terms where they can relocate their paparazzi demands.


June 5, 2015 - Posted by | celebrity, Famous Persons, music | , , , , , , , , ,

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