Taylor Swift’s first album is kinda brilliant

In my mind, when I recollect Taylor’s first album, I think to myself “It’s really not as good as everything she’s put out since then.”
As if it’s some amateur first attempt and it doesn’t have much going for it.

This past September was the first time I’d listened it in several years. Certainly the first time I have since “Red” came out and that was a couple years ago.

My overall feeling now after going through it 4-5 Fridays in a row… I’m still not a huge fan of country music, but I think it’s the music itself in certain tracks of this album that reinforce my opinion that Taylor has gone on to do much better. They’re kind of one-note, not particularly groundbreaking. And I’m not big on some of the country twang that appears in places as if it’s a requirement for it to qualify as a country song.

However, I found that the stories Taylor tells through her music still have a lot of relevance. And as it was with the song that started it all, I found myself relating to the situations personally.
There was one week in particular when I was recalling someone I had feeling for as if I was Taylor and I wrote all these song about him.
Seriously, if I had the songwriting talent, my lyrics would be very similar to her style. Although I probably would spend more time pining and less time “plotting my revenge”… but that’s just me. In my own life, I’m kind of a boring inactive protagonist and I do more saying and less doing.

The thing that kinda gets me about Taylor sometimes 😛 when I listen to some of her songs, I get so overwhelmed with emotion that my voice cracks and I cannot sing certain lines without crying. Either because they evoke emotion or they’re just too beautiful for me to competently say.
In this album, this happens with at least three songs… maybe four, actually.

“Tim McGraw” was the song that had me thinking I should bring this album back out because it has a line about her spending all summer long with this guy and they turn around to find that summer gone.
I find it strikingly immediately because it’s very visual. Taylor’s songs are a lot about the details and I can picture these situations so clearly. As well as her in a little black dress. [I’d never seen the video, but I hope that’s an integral part of it]
I wonder which Tim McGraw song is her favorite. [according to Wikipedia, it’s “Can’t Tell me Nothing”… after listening to it just now, it’s actually pretty good. It’s about wanting to find your own way in the world despite all the voices trying to talk you out of it- whether or not the things you want to do are worth doing or not]
And apparently she was a freshman and Brandon was her senior boyfriend and they’d break up when he left for college.
Ah, the situation of pining for love lost. It’s so romantic…

“Picture to Burn” is her first ever revenge anthem 😀 and I always had so much fun with it.

I was first introduced to Taylor on the radio through “Teardrops on my guitar”… but I didn’t know that it wasn’t the original version. So I’m not as keen on the country version as I am on the pop version. It’s a little too melancholy for my tastes.

“A Place in this world” is very simplistic, but considering where Taylor is now, it gives some amazing perspective on her situation. How she started not knowing where she was heading, but getting by doing what she loves.

“Cold as You” is a heartbreaker about a relationship with a condescending boy that didn’t quite appreciate her.
It resonates with me the other day because it was raining at the time and here was this lyric “what a shame what a rainy ending given to a perfect day.” Putting so much of yourself into a relationship and not having that effort being reciprocated is tough.

“The Outside” I definitely feel was personal to Taylor. She had trouble making friends in school and she was bullied and such. I can relate to that as well, not feeling like you really belonged anywhere because nobody ever welcomed you in.
But my thing is that I’m too afraid of being told I couldn’t be involved (simply based on one situation I encountered years ago that I can’t remember it but it has since defined me) that it’s hard for me to put in the effort. The odd thing is that when some people try to invite me in, I metaphorically slam the door in their faces because I’m terrified of letting them in and opening myself up.
With one of my future best friends, I buffered her at first because I found it weird in general that someone would be interested in being friends with me. We just had one class together and it was odd she kept trying to interact with me based on that one fact. Yet that is the textbook way of making friends- something I never had the confidence to put into action.

…I am learning so much from Wikipedia right now 😛 I didn’t know all these tidbits about Taylor’s songs.

Like I didn’t know “Tied Together with a Smile” was about a friend of hers that suffered from bulimia.
For me, I sounded like it was about a friend of hers that didn’t know she was pretty and was giving a lot of herself to a relationship or was very interested in a guy who didn’t return her feelings… there were a lot of other things going through my head. At one point, I almost feel like I could be the person she was singing about because I don’t consider myself pretty yet some of my friends have told me otherwise and that I should give myself more credit.

As much as I love hearing inspiration between artists’ music, I love putting my own spin on it and figuring out what the songs mean to me personally. To me, that’s what music is really about. Figuring out how something makes you feel.

“Stay Beautiful” has a bunch of bits to it that feel immature to me. The music isn’t particularly brilliant and some of the lyrics are meh. But there are spots where the gears in my head turn and I think about that guy.
Particularly the second verse where she says “Cory finds another way to be the highlight of my day” and how she’s taking pictures in her mind to save for a rainy day. 😀 I had a lot of moments in college with this one guy where he was the highlight of my day and I have wondered if he knew how great he was at just being himself. How he gets to know everybody, really puts himself out there and certainly knows how to make me laugh- whether he means to or not.

“Should’ve said no” is another fun revenge anthem I enjoy singing to. On her “Journey to Fearless” DVD, I think it was her last song of the concert and it involved water raining down on her very dramatically. It’s amazing to read that it was a last-minute addition. I liked it because it came from a similar school as “Picture to Burn.” And apparently she was currently going through a situation where her boyfriend was cheating on her and she’d just found out about it. Talk about the ultimate revenge.

“Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)” was among my least favorites on the album because it was super country and super sentimental. I cannot sing all those “my’s” without tearing up 😛 I don’t know if it’s the sentimentality of it or it’s beautiful to me or what. But I always had that problem. And supposedly it’s inspired by neighbors of hers that met as kids and had this long-lasting marriage.
Listening to it this last time through, I saw bits and pieces where I really enjoyed it. Usually my issue is that there are too many details going on and it’s hard to get a grasp of it. At this point, there are several songs of hers on this album I still don’t know all the words too. In this case, some of the lyrics were starting to come through. And what got me this time- this song was like the predecessor of many of her story-telling pieces. “Speak Now” in particular came to mind.

“Our Song” is one that made the radio and it is so commercial with the memorable lyrics and their delivery. I stepped back into it like it was a pair of brand new shoes that fit perfectly.
It paints such a fun story. Again, I was thinking about that same guy. I don’t know if we really had a song, but we did have a few songs we sang in the car when we drove together to our college field station 😀 good times.
I love the final line of the chorus so much, it is so beautifully put together that I almost wanna cry when I sing to it “before I said amen, asking God if he could play it again”… it is such a sweet sentiment that I wish I could be a part of one day.
I can’t believe she wrote this for a high school talent show 😛 that’s totally crazy.

By the time I got this album, “Fearless” was already out in stores or close to it… and by that time, they already had a deluxe edition out. Luckily.
I didn’t think too much of the extra tracks at first. But the clencher was that they had “Teardrops on my guitar”- the version I knew. If I had gotten the album earlier, I wouldn’t have been happy because the song I fell in love with wasn’t there. Not in the way I knew it.

“I’m only me when I’m with you”- again, I feel like I can relate to it. There are certain people I can be myself around and that doesn’t apply to many people.
“Invisible” sounds almost like a predecessor to “You Belong with me” except this guy isn’t a friend of hers and someone she knew personally- she was just crushing on him when he was with a girl that didn’t appreciate him as much as she did. I’ve felt that way a bunch of times… either in unrequited love or with that same guy- if he was ever with someone who didn’t appreciate him or love him the way I would, I would certainly take issue with it. He deserves to be with the right person who loves his quirks, but also makes him better.
“A Perfectly Good Heart” is another heartbreaker about a relationship that’s crumbling apart- the music in it is really good in reinforcing the feeling in the lyrics.

“Teardrops on my guitar” started it all for me because it was the first time I’d heard a girl name a guy she liked in one of her songs. I liked that personal touch. Not to mention Drew was the most recent crush I’d had back in high school. We were friendly towards one another, but not particularly close. And at the time he had a girlfriend and when I found out he was dating someone, it felt like being punched in the stomach.
But I never regretted any of it, even after he came out as gay a year later. His presence in my life, whatever it was, was a highlight of an otherwise mundane yet stressful, friendless high school existence. He inspired poetry and there were certain songs I gravitated towards because it reminded me of him and how I felt about him.

More than anything, though, I related to this song because I knew what it was like to deal with unrequited love.

And there you have it…
I’ll take a week off and bring out “Fearless” the Friday after that… the way it seems to be working out, I’ll do one of Taylor’s albums each of the next few months. “Speak Now” I’ll spend November on and then “Red” in December.

“1989” I could do pretty much anytime 😛 I mean it came out a year ago this month, so if I feel up for it, I may bring it out just for the heck of it. It’s that good.

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