I kind of like Taylor Swift now

staff note

I’ve always had eclectic music tastes. I have only one Spotify playlist, which I’ve stuffed full with everything from death metal to smooth jazz to klezmer music to rap to something I recently discovered called thrash grass. My top four songs are probably “One Piece at a Time,” “California Uber Alles,” “Amos Moses” and “Godzilla.” And right now, my four favorite musicians/bands are Johnny Cash, The Dead Kennedys, The Native Howl and Slipknot (all of whom you should check out, by the way). 

However, I’ve been listening almost exclusively to someone not on my playlist these last few weeks, an artist whose music I’d previously only ever heard at parties or while driving with friends: Taylor Swift.

This detour started, like most of my adventures in college do, with a conversation. I was talking to someone whom I deeply admire and respect while we were observing a holiday, and the conversation turned to music. I had previously mentioned that I watched a bunch of Jake Gyllenhaal movies over the summer with my little brother, which led the person I was talking with to rave to me about “All Too Well,” a Swift song allegedly about her relationship with Gyllenhall. I decided that any song this person loved was well worth listening to and resolved to listen to it later that night after the sun set and the holiday ended.

I heard the song (specifically the ten-minute version) once, loved it, relistened to it a few more times, decided to check out more songs and wound up spending the rest of the week listening to Taylor Swift while I worked, went to the gym, did chores and generally went about my life. Everything from the lyrics to the style to the emotions really resonated with me, and I found that she had a song for practically every situation or vibe I wanted music for.

My newfound love for Taylor Swift, while admittedly both unexpected and trivial in the grand scheme of things, has a valuable insight/lesson to give us: don’t be afraid to try new things even if your mind/feelings try to hold you back.

My eclectic music tastes and general openness to exploration and experimentation in music had always been limited by a reluctance to explore genres like pop. Not because of a sense that they were beneath me (I have strong thoughts on elitism within music/this sense that some music is objectively the only music with merit, but those thoughts will have to wait for another staff note) but because I didn’t really see the appeal of pop music and thus felt no need to explore it. It was only after a conversation that showed me the appeal of pop music that I felt like exploring it, and I probably would never have discovered how much I like Taylor Swift without the conversation.

Just like I held myself back from exploring entire genres for no good reason, people often hold themselves back from engaging in certain activities for no good reason or for reasons they can’t really explain or justify. You can see this in everything from people refusing to read certain subgenres or entire genres of books because they don’t think they’ll like them to people being unwilling to check out certain genres of film to people not wanting to attend certain events like reading groups or parties. This isn’t to say all reasons you can’t explain aren’t good reasons (there are plenty of cases where people have strong and valid opinions that they struggle to fully express/capture with their words ), just that some of these reasons can’t be explained because they are based on pre-conceived notions of what an experience will be like that aren’t really true and which don’t really make sense.

For many people, choosing to explore these unjustifiably out-of-bounds areas will almost certainly lead them to discover interests and passions that they will come to love or at least enjoy. And if you happen to discover that you were right and don’t like those things, then all you lost was the small amount of time you invested into checking things out (and you’ve gained an interesting experience). 

While I mostly talked about music and various leisure activities in this article, the argument I’ve made extend far beyond that. All throughout our lives, their will be times when we feel like not doing something, not because we dislike the thing or would be harmed by it, but because we just feel like we might not like it. In such cases, we need to be willing to take the leap of faith and check things out, as we’ll hopefully like what we see and if we don’t, we’ve lost nothing for it.

Zev van Zanten | Campus Arts Editor

Zev van Zanten is a Trinity sophomore and campus arts editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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