Swift jabs in Taylor-made lyrics
TAYLOR Swift knows what time it is. And it’s not just show time, although she is on stage in front of thousands in Detroit as part of her super-sized Red tour.
‘‘50,000 people have opted in to hear me sing about my feelings for two hours,’’ Swift tells the mainly female crowd. ‘‘I’m told I have lots of feelings. . .’’ Even with her tongue in cheek, those feelings are responsible for 26 million album sales and 75 million downloads in seven years – each album followed by a tour that grows in size.
It’s playing to her fans where Swift is most comfortable. She can’t be misquoted by nosy journalists and she can express her sense of humour to let everyone know the diss-andtell songwriter is firmly in on the joke.
‘‘You never talk to him again and then you write a whole album about him,’’ Swift says at one point, acutely aware the audience all have different assumptions about who ‘‘he’’ is. And they know she’ll never tell.
Introducing Arms, a fan request, Swift says: ‘‘I can imagine it’s hard to make a relationship last. I wouldn’t know. . .’’
She ushers Stay Stay Stay in by proudly noting: ‘‘See, they don’t always leave. . .’’
Interviewing Taylor Swift is tricky. She’s simultaneously open and closed. Her ability to swerve off topic during a warm anecdote is politician-like. Personal questions are off limits, in the most polite way.
But when President Obama uses your break-up songs as a punchline to attack his political opponents, you know you occupy a rare place in pop culture.
‘‘It’s crazy to take in what’s happened in the last few years,’’ Swift says, deftly sidestepping specifically referencing her presidential shout out.
‘‘There’s no way to wrap your mind around it, no way to fully comprehend it without changing your own perception of yourself, which I’d never want to do.
‘‘As a writer it’s really important I keep my mind in check. That’s the only thing that keeps me here, what comes out of my mind.
‘‘So I spend a lot of time thinking about my perspective, how to look at life, how to stay happy but still feel things. Not protect myself too much but shield myself from unnecessary pain and insecurity.’’
Swift then taps her head and jokes: ‘‘You do not want to get inside here. It’s very complicated.’’
Some of Swift’s best lyrics are about the joys of falling helplessly in love ( Treacherous, Love Story, Sparks Fly, Begin Again) but for the world beyond her direct fanbase, she’s the bitter ex-girlfriend who gets successful revenge in song. She doesn’t mind.
Red. ‘‘Break-ups are hard,’’ Swift says. ‘‘And you need music to get through them. I am happy to be your go-to break-up musician. People like music when they’re in love, but they don’t need it as much.
‘‘You need music when you’re missing someone or you’re pining for someone or you’re forgetting someone or you’re trying to process what just happened. The heartbroken are a special kind of people. . . I’ll be there to hold your hand.’’
– CAMERON ADAMS
Taylor Swift plays Suncorp Stadium, in Brisbane, on December 7. Tickets go on sale at 9am on Tuesday.
US singer and songwriter Taylor Swift mixes things up on her new album