Hi Taylor! Dave here, your editor at the Wall Street Journal!
Thank you so, so much for writing for us! We know our readership is going to respond to what you have to say!
I just have a few notes to suggest.
Can we talk about the metaphor? I know the title of the piece is “For Taylor Swift, The Future of Music Is A Love Story.” Are we absolutely settled on this?
Is there maybe another metaphor you could use for this? I know that love stories are a subject in which you are well and thoroughly versed and we love to hear you talk about them. My daughter Kayla sure does! When she saw you were writing for me, she spoke to me for the first time in years, in a complete sentence that wasn’t “DAD DAD DAD YOU NEED TO BUY ME AND CAMPBELL SOME TAYLOR TICKETS.”
It just seems like maybe there is another metaphor that exists out there in the world, one you haven’t already used in “Love Story,” “The Story of Us,” “You Belong With Me,” “22” (where the love is implied), “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” “Trouble” — I could go on, but. If two of your songs got together and talked, the odds are against their passing the Bechdel Test, especially because, as songs, they do not have names or genders and they would never get together and talk and — I’m sorry. Let me start over. Wow, this isn’t inspiring a lot of confidence in my edits, huh?
Kayla, please stop staring over my shoulder as I type. I am not being mean to Taylor. Taylor, my daughter says to tell you that you are perfect and impeccable, always (good vocab word, Kayla!) and you really got her through some rough times. She played “The Story of Us” over and over again when Jim McKandler, who is gross anyway and all her friends have nicknamed Pimple Giraffe, was going to take her to the fall dance but wound up asking Katie instead. Kayla, I am not telling Taylor Swift that Katie is “better known for what she does on the mattress.” That is a horrible thing to say about another person. Just because she wears short skirts and you wear t-shirts and is the cheer captain while you sit on the bleachers does not mean that Katie deserves your judgment. No matter what Taylor tells you, Kayla. Besides, Kayla, I don’t know why you wanted to go to the fall dance with anyone who could remotely earn the nickname Pimple Giraffe. It sounds like you dodged a bullet.
Taylor, Kayla says that “The Story of Us” literally perfectly described all her feels, especially all about Jim and that she can’t even. Can’t even what, Kayla? I feel old. Where was I? Oh. Right. Taylor. The love metaphors. Let’s just skip ahead to the middle paragraphs, where you set up the analogy:
There are always going to be those artists who break through on an emotional level and end up in people’s lives forever. The way I see it, fans view music the way they view their relationships. Some music is just for fun, a passing fling (the ones they dance to at clubs and parties for a month while the song is a huge radio hit, that they will soon forget they ever danced to). Some songs and albums represent seasons of our lives, like relationships that we hold dear in our memories but had their time and place in the past.
“You take that, loose one-hit wonder songs!” Do we really have to come down so hard on the songs of summer, Taylor? Again, is this really the only metaphor you have? Are there no other ways of describing things? Don’t you eat food sometimes, and you could say something like, “some music is just for fun, like when you eat a big plate full of decorative cheeses”? I’m hungry.
However, some artists will be like finding “the one.” We will cherish every album they put out until they retire and we will play their music for our children and grandchildren. As an artist, this is the dream bond we hope to establish with our fans. I think the future still holds the possibility for this kind of bond, the one my father has with the Beach Boys and the one my mother has with Carly Simon.
I don’t even know how to translate this into a real relationship, but I don’t think that this is at all what finding the One is like. I can’t help wondering: Have you ever been in a lasting relationship? Have you found “The One”? Are these your only metaphors? What if you actually found love? Would we have to spend the next thirty or twenty years listening to you describe it in minute detail? Or will you never be satisfied until you find The One, which, like yetis and UFOs, may or may not exist and, in the interim, can take up a lot of your time requiring you to attend conventions of the like-minded.
I think forming a bond with fans in the future will come in the form of constantly providing them with the element of surprise. No, I did not say “shock”; I said “surprise.” I believe couples can stay in love for decades if they just continue to surprise each other, so why can’t this love affair exist between an artist and their fans?
Taylor, you’ve barely been alive for decades. Wall Street Journal readers have been married longer than you have been alive, in many cases, by doing the exact opposite of what you suggest. I haven’t surprised my wife in years. People do not want to be surprised 30 years into a relationship. You have to feel that you know the person with whom you have had three children. What form is this surprise supposed to take? If my wife came home and I leaped out from behind the sofa, holding chocolates in one hand and a big bouquet in the other, and yelled “SURPRISE!” it would take us years of counseling to overcome. She would be convinced that if I was hiding behind the sofa because I was carrying on an affair.
Honestly, between your songs and your analogies, it sounds like your longest relationship experience was with the platitudinous cards aisle at Hallmark. Most of your songs (I know this, because Kayla makes us play them in the car) go like this: You meet a guy. You think he is perfect! You think he is The One! Then he does something wrong! He is bad and terrible and not The One! Have you considered the possibility that no one is perfect? That The One does not exist? What will become of your metaphors then? Pimple Giraffe might turn out to be a perfectly decent guy who would buy his kids a lot of tickets to see — whoever the artists of the future are, at Madison Square Garden, and everything.
I’m sorry. There is only so much listening to any one artist that a body can take, even if that artist is The One. Kayla says you are her One. I hope that makes you happy. No, Kayla, I’m not being mean to Taylor.
You go on:
In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online. To continue to show them something they had never seen before, I brought out dozens of special guest performers to sing their hits with me. My generation was raised being able to flip channels if we got bored, and we read the last page of the book when we got impatient. We want to be caught off guard, delighted, left in awe. I hope the next generation’s artists will continue to think of inventive ways of keeping their audiences on their toes, as challenging as that might be.
Then the rest of it is sort of just you talking about how wonderful your concerts are. They are fine. I have to attend them to chaperone Kayla and Campbell. They are perfectly fine.
You conclude by saying “And I’d also like a nice garden.” Who are you, CANDIDE?
I’m sorry, Kayla. I’m not being mean to Taylor.