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“Once upon a time, the planets, and the fates
And all the stars aligned
You and I ended up in the same room
At the same time.“
– Taylor Swift in “Mastermind“
– Exactly how I felt when I got to see her on this tour.
Let’s start with the basics: Who’s Taylor and why are we so obsessed with her?
Let’s start from the very beginning. Taylor Swift was born on December 13, 1989, and this is significant because 13 is her favorite number (and a number she uses as easter eggs for her fans), and she would later name her fifth album where she transitioned from country to pop, 1989. Swift began her career around the age of 9 when she began taking vocal lessons and focusing her music inspiration on the country genre.
A few years later, a computer repairman named Ronnie Cremer walked into Taylor’s life. Cremer is the individual who taught Taylor how to play the guitar which led her to begin writing her own songs. Through some family connections, Taylor was able to model for Abercrombie & Fitch and put one of her original songs on a CD for the company. This opportunity then opened the doors for Taylor to attend meetings with major record labels.
The Swift family then relocated from their Christmas Tree farm in Pennsylvania to Tennessee so Taylor could work toward her big break in country music when Taylor was 14 years old. When she began high school, Taylor attended songwriting sessions with songwriter Liz Rose (Rose would later write All Too Well with Taylor) and eventually became the youngest artist signed by Sony/ATV. Although this was a great position for Taylor, she decided to leave the company to attend high school so she could experience the quintessential teenage years that would eventually inspire her debut album.
Taylor frequented local places in Nashville in hopes to catch the attention of record labels. In 2005, at the Bluebird Café, Taylor successfully caught the attention of Scott Borchetta who convinced her to sign on to an emerging record label called Big Machine Records. One year later, in 2006, Taylor released her debut album which peaked at number 5 on the US Billboard 200 and remained there for 275 weeks.
In 2007 Taylor began touring and opened for Brad Paisley. I remember this time in Taylor’s career well because it is where my love for her began. I was in middle school and remember waiting to watch CMT/GAC commercials just so I could catch glimpses of Taylor singing “Tim McGraw.” My cousin and I started listening to more of Taylor’s work and quickly fell in love with her story-telling abilities and musical talent. When tickets for Paisley’s concert were announced we bought tickets specifically to see Taylor perform.
Back to Taylor –
Taylor won the BMI Songwriter of the Year at the age of 20, becoming the youngest person to ever receive this award. I could honestly go on and on about all of Taylor’s achievements, awards, and accolades, but that would be too much to list here. The reason we are STILL obsessed with Taylor is because of her ability to connect with her fans. Taylor speaks directly to Swifties in interviews and through social media. Taylor leaves easter eggs for her fans in her lyrics, music videos, cameo appearances, interviews, social outings, and much more. The reason Taylor leaves so many easter eggs is honestly because she’s a mastermind. Taylor understands how much her fans love her and enjoy figuring out the little clues she leaves to determine what will be coming next from the singer or to understand her personal life on a deeper level.
An example of the way Taylor uses easter eggs is in the clues she left for the fans in her CD packaging. On the lyrics sheets, Taylor would capitalize random letters throughout the song. Fans would then find the letters and put them together and it would reveal a word or phrase. In one of her most famous songs, “All Too Well”, the hidden phrase was “Maple Latte.” This is important because “All Too Well” is widely speculated and assumed to be about one Jake Gyllenhaal. When Taylor and Gyllanhal were dating they were photographed drinking…. you guessed it, maple lattes. So, this hidden phrase was a clue to the fans that this song was most likely (definitely) about Gyllenhaal.
Another example – during her Lover Era, Taylor left easter eggs that only the most religious Swifties could find or understand. These easter eggs led the Swifties to locations that Taylor would show up to right before a performance. Before Taylor would go on to her performance or interviews she addressed the crowd that showed up and expressed her love and gratitude to all the Swifties out there. This woman truly gets it, and we love her.
Furthermore, Taylor has always been an advocate for the underdogs and the marginalized. If she was not an icon enough, Taylor released “You Need to Calm Down” with the music video on Donald Trump’s birthday.
Why is she still relevant?
Taylor is still relevant for the reasons mentioned above, but also because her music and message have evolved and grown just like her audience.
What does “Taylor’s Version” mean, is it even important?
So, like a lot of corporations and institutions, the music industry is one big boy’s club. Most artists do not own their work/words (masters) because they have signed them away to their record company. This is very standard in the music industry, and it is something that needs to change ASAP.
As mentioned earlier, Taylor signed with Big Machine Records, aka Scott Borchetta at the beginning of her career. All the songs that Taylor wrote while under Big Machine Records belong to Borchetta and he unfortunately did not let Taylor know that he was going to sell her masters. Borchetta sold all of Taylor’s masters to the infamous Scooter Braun without giving Taylor the chance to buy her work. This shady deal was all happening when Taylor still owed Big Machine Records another album. Taylor then proceeded to release one of her most iconic albums, Reputation (which has also become one of her most iconic eras). People in the music industry (the boys) predicted this album would flop and that Taylor would be performing in empty stadiums. THEY WERE WRONG. Forbes reported that the Reputation Stadium Tour is the highest-grossing tour in U.S. history, and Taylor sold over 2 million tickets and grossed over $266.1 million. (Taylor is predicted to beat her own record with The Eras Tour).
After Taylor’s legal obligations were over, she announced her separation from Big Machine Records due to “creative differences.”
Taylor then entered her Lover Era.
Her first single from the Lover album was, “Me!” A lot of people were confused about her choice, but the first line in that song speaks directly to Scott Borchetta at Big Machine Records and Scooter Braun. Taylor proclaims, “I promise that you’ll never find another like me!” and let’s be honest, she is right.
Taylor announced to the world that she would begin re-recording her music and could start re-releasing her work in 2020. The only difference (apart from her time and experience refining her vocal skills) would be that the re-recorded music would now belong to the rightful owner, Taylor Swift. So, when 2020 came around, everyone was excited to see which album would come first. However, in true Swift fashion, Taylor did not release a re-recorded album, she released a surprise album on July 24, 2020 – folklore. This took the world by surprise and Taylor became the first female artist to get three Album of the Year awards at the Grammy’s.
After the hype of folklore settled down, everyone got re-hyped for Taylor to re-record and release her old music. So, two days before her 31st birthday, Taylor made an announcement. Everyone believed she was going to finally announce the release of her re-recorded albums. This didn’t happen though, because on December 11, 2020, only a couple of months after she released folklore, Taylor announced another brand new album, evermore.
It was not until April 2021 that Taylor decided to re-release Fearless (Taylor’s Version). Taylor also added new songs to the album which she refers to as “From the Vault”. Then in November 2021, Taylor released Red (Taylor’s Version). This album includes “All Too Well (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” which was the most anticipated song on the album. This song is now considered the longest song to be number one on the Billboard Top 100 list.
So, now that you are in the know about the drama surrounding “Taylor’s Version,” I implore you to please only listen to the songs that say, “Taylor’s Version.” This is because those songs are rightfully owned by Taylor and not “stolen” by Braun. Taylor is working on releasing her re-recordings, but until then, she has given us more than enough to listen to while we wait.
What’s the deal with The Eras tour, how come no one can get tickets?
Ticketmaster had assured Taylor that they would be able to handle the demand from the Swifties for The Eras tickets. Unfortunately, Ticketmaster was not able to handle the insanely high demand and site traffic. Ticketmaster made individuals who wished to purchase presale tickets get fan verified and were sent codes to use on the day of the presale. Naturally, all the Swifties wanted to get verified, and did, and then on the day of the presale bought essentially ALL of the tickets available. Individuals were waiting 6+ hours in the online queue to wait for these tickets (myself, my sister, and cousin included). The demand for these tickets was so high that some individuals who were at the end of the queue during the presale could only get one ticket or none at all.
Ticketmaster then cited that they had to close the sale of tickets due to “extraordinarily high demand” and “insufficient remaining ticket inventory.” Ticketmaster is now being sued by Swifties who were unable to purchase tickets.
The fortunate Swifties who were able to get tickets thanked all their lucky stars, but also felt devastated for those who found themselves in a pickle trying to find tickets. After the Ticketmaster fiasco, some greedy people tried reselling tickets at insanely high prices. The highest ones I saw sold for over $30k. Insane.
What’s with the Eras cosplay?
When Taylor announced that her next tour was going to include ALL of the Eras the Swifties lost their minds. Taylor has mastered the art of recreating herself for each period in her life (essentially each album she has released). Each of these eras is unique, includes the full spectrum of human emotion, and comes with its own easter eggs/performances/and iconic outfits. For this reason, Swifties got to work deciding what Era they were going to dress up as – would the outfit be based on a specific song/lyric, would it be from a music video, would it be based on a dress Taylor wore to an event during a specific Era, etc.
The thought, labor, and delivery that went into putting these outfits together was incredible – if you live on TikTok or Instagram Reels then you have definitely seen some of these outfits. One of my favorite Eras is Reputation because of the meaning behind her songs and the overall vibes. So I dressed up in something that would be equal parts comfortable (I knew it would be a long day and it’s hot in Florida) and Reputation vibes – I wore black leggings, a black bralette, made sure to have my long black nails, and had my hair done in the messy/curly style just like Taylor wore hers during this Era (thankfully that’s how my hair normally is and the Florida humidity definitely helped).
*hard to tell, but Taylor is singing the 10 minute version of All Too Well here*
What happened at the concert, and did it live up to the hype?
When I say this performance was euphoric/spectacular/jaw-dropping/something straight from my wildest dreams, I mean that I’m not sure anything in life will ever compare to the feelings I had right before she walked out on stage AND during the 3+ hours she performed her heart out for us. The dancers were magnificent, the outfits were pieces of art, the lighting/choreography/video-stage design, and all the little things I probably missed, all created the performance of a lifetime. I have all of my fingers and toes crossed that she is recording one of these performances for a special on Netflix or Hulu or whatever streaming service just like she did for her Reputation Tour.
The best part of it all <3
I’m a sucker for a sad song, and I thank God every day that Taylor exists because she is the Queen of heartbreaking lyrics. She blessed the fans by singing “All Too Well (10 minute version) (Taylor’s Version),” part of illicit affairs, champagne problems, tolerate it, and cardigan. I had a few favorite moments to this whole show (although, when Taylor sings to you for 3+ hours it’s hard to just choose a few moments) –
- I did not know what the opening song would be, and the way the dancers/performers/Taylor came out to “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” was phenomenal. It was like I was watching the most gorgeous sunset painted with watercolors all unfold (see picture below) to produce Taylor singing to us that “it’s been a long time” and that we’re “her whole world.”
- Taylor’s entire Reputation performance from the outfits to the dancing to how she mashed up “Don’t Blame Me” and “Look What You Made Me Do.”
- Not going to lie, I also loved the whole witch scene she performed during “willow” in the evermore era. Taylor and her dancers were dressed in cloaks holding orange orbs that were lit up and seemed to be a part of their own coven during their performance of this song.
- Taylor sang an acoustic version of champagne problems on the piano and we all got to belt out the bridge of the song with her.
- Honestly, just the fact that I was in the same space as Taylor is enough for me to be over the moon ecstatic. I like to think I’m pretty chill when it comes to celebrities, but if I were honest with myself, I’d probably cry if I got to meet her. And if I can be dramatic for a second, I think I view her as a pseudo-older sister.
And because I’m extra for Taylor, here are 13 book recommendations based on my favorite songs she performed during the concert. These books were chosen based on the vibe I felt, a line from the song, or an overall aesthetic that I thought fit both the book and song.
- Cruel Summer – People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
- The Man – Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood
- ‘tis the damn season – The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston
- champagne problems – The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
- Delicate – Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
- All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) – Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese
- illicit affairs – Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
- cardigan – Happy Place by Emily Henry / The London Séance Society by Sarah Penner
- Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version) – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
- mad woman – A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
- Lavender Haze – Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
- Midnight Rain – Icebreakers by Hannah Grace
- Mastermind – A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore
Also, in case you missed any of the setlists already out there, my sister graciously created a playlist of the entire set for the show we attended that you can find here. Our surprise songs were “Mean” and “mad woman.”