Blame it on Taylor Swift – Times News Online


Like many 14-year-old girls these days, my daughter, Sadie, loves singing star Taylor Swift. When Sadie’s in my car, she’s playing the whole list of Taylor songs and we’re in serious gig mode. When she sings, her hands sway and her head sways.

And I just drive.

After playing a Taylor song that I had never heard before, she looked at me and said, “Daddy, isn’t Taylor Swift awesome?”

“She’s fine,” I said, “but play me Karen Carpenter if you’d like to hear.”

“You’re lucky I love you,” my daughter chimed in with that typical teenage face every parent has seen.

I was going to ask her to play some Elvis Presley, but Sadie already thinks I was born in the Stone Age and she’s almost right about that. I once tried to tell her about my eight track collection and I think she thought it was something that was invented when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

We were going to a basketball game recently and she caught me tapping the steering wheel to a Taylor Swift song. “See, you really love her!” She screamed. I looked at her and made my best impression of an embittered teenager’s face and left it at that.

I was thinking the other day about how Sadie must feel when she’s totally locked into every word of every song by her favorite singer. She’ll crank up the volume so loud I’ll feel the driver’s side door vibrate against my leg. She’s in the zone, to the bone. To describe her appearance, I think of the title of an Alicia Keys song.

“This girl is on fire!”

To be honest, I love putting up with Taylor Swift singing in my car because I see how her music makes my daughter so happy. In this crazy world we live in, what else can be a healthy escape from reality for teens than listening to their favorite music?

Back when I wanted to feel the energy of what is now called classic rock, I played Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grand Funk Railroad and Steppenwolf. When my mood changed, I played Tommy James and the Shondells or Lionel Richie. Now I like to listen to country music and go to concerts to hear tribute bands playing AC/DC, Foreigner and Bob Seger. For a few blissful hours, I lose myself in a world of piercing electric guitars, throbbing percussion, and full-throttle vocals. Sometimes I listen to sweet love songs depending on my mood.

I had the chance to write an overview for this journal on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Styx. I interviewed keyboardist Lawrence Gowan and asked him if he was tired of performing the same songs for the past 50 years.

“Although the words and melodies are the same,” he said, “we have new experiences every day that bring these songs into another meaningful understanding.” Gowan’s explanation made me think of the American poet Walt Whitman and a poem he wrote over 150 years ago.

In ‘Song of Myself’, Whitman wrote, “I too am not a bit tame, I too am untranslatable,… Failing to pick me up at first, stay cheered up, miss me one place, look for another, I am stopping somewhere while waiting for you.

The lyrics of old poems and the overplayed lyrics of songs may be dismissed as meaningless to us today, but tomorrow they may bring significant relevance to how we might be feeling at a certain moment. Whitman explained that her poetry might be untranslatable when we first read it, but somewhere and someday we can understand her words by connecting them to what is happening in our lives.

When she sings the lyrics to Taylor’s tunes, Sadie’s today is for her. For me, someone like John Denver is both my yesterday and my today.

About a week ago, my daughter and I were returning from watching another high school basketball game. She surprised me by playing the song “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran which, in my opinion, is the best love song ever written and recorded. Together, we started singing the song as loud as we could, and as we got to the end, I felt myself wipe a tear from the corner of my eye. I realized then that I was having the “perfect” time with my daughter.

For Sadie, we were just doing a song together, but for me, I went back to a time when I called her my little Guppy and every night I took Biscuit, her favorite stuffed animal, and made her dance on her bed and sing stupid songs I made up that kept us both laughing until I turned off the lights in her room.

I stayed on Memory Lane with her a little longer. I remembered the day the training wheels came off her bike and cheered as she pedaled down the driveway on her own. I remembered the time she auditioned for the lead role in the play “Annie” and she had to sing a solo. Her nerves got the better of her and I could barely hear her voice.

“I was pretty bad,” she told me after walking back to her seat. I took his hand and squeezed it. To this day, I don’t know if I’ve ever been prouder of her than I was then. She was learning that effort does not always result in the desired success; nevertheless, the willingness to try something that is a test of courage is a personal victory, regardless of the outcome.

I look forward to the next time this dad and daughter travel anywhere because I’ll be perfectly happy listening to songs I don’t much like.

I will blame that on Taylor Swift.

Rich Strack can be contacted at richiesa[email protected]

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