So why is it that I find myself hurtling down I-75 with the music turned up, sipping some blueberry-flavored drink that promises to bring sustained energy and focus, all the while listening to teenage girls in my car belt the lyrics to “Love Story” by Taylor Swift?
Because I am among the thousands of people (70,000 to be exact) who are flocking into downtown Atlanta to catch the Taylor Swift Eras tour, her first tour in five years.
I am now officially a fan, or a “Swiftie” as they are called.
Forget the fact that Taylor Swift, who has sold over 200 million records globally, is one of the best-selling musicians of all time.
And also forget that she has been lauded as one of the greatest songwriters in history.
While those statements may be true, I never paid much attention to Taylor Swift’s music or accolades.
But what I experienced at her concert changed me. Why?
For one, Taylor Swift comes across as such a genuinely lovely person. Over and over again, she thanked the crowd and spoke to us, not like we were in a huge and fully sold out arena, but rather in a quaint bar or living room. Swift told intimate stories about her songs and seemed sincerely grateful for the opportunity to reflect on her years of making music through this tour. Eras was an apt name because Swift took the audience on a journey through her 10-album history, sharing selections from each stage. Each era was marked by elaborate costume and set changes.
“Some of these songs are about my life; some of these songs are about fictional characters I created,” Swift said at one point during the concert. “But my hope in all of this is that, at the end of the day, these songs will be songs that you think are about your own life,” she said.
My 13-year-old niece was in tears at times because she was so moved by Swift.
“This is my favorite song! Oh, I just love her!” my niece exclaimed, tears streaming down her cheeks.
And then I was in tears because I was so moved by my niece. She loves Taylor Swift and has for years. I watched her hug her mom, my sister, throughout the show, thanking her again and again for this experience.
As I viewed Swift through my niece’s eyes, and through my daughter’s, I began to get what all the hype is about. Taylor Swift is an icon of this generation. She is beautiful and sings beautifully, but she stands for far more than just glamor. Sure, many of her lyrics are about young love, breakups, and seeking revenge, but then she also sings about finding self-confidence and building friendships.
Speaking of friendship, many Swifties arrive at concerts adorned with friendship bracelets in hopes of trading with other fans. My daughter and nieces made dozens of bracelets in the car ride to Atlanta and traded with others, which proved to be a really sweet part of the overall experience. The gesture was inspired by the lyrics, “so make your friendship bracelets,” in Swift’s song “You’re on Your Own, Kid.”
Despite a botched rollout of tickets through Ticketmaster, Swift delivered with an epic three-hour show. What a gift. At the conclusion of the show, as we exited within the mass of people, I couldn’t help but marvel at the kindness within the crowd. People were smiling, laughing, trading bracelets, and thanking security guards. Even as we poured into the downtown Atlanta streets, you could hear groups of people laughing, sharing memorable moments and singing.
I found myself humming Swift’s song, “Enchanted:” “This night is sparkling, don’t you let it go/ I’m wonderstruck, blushing all the way home/I’ll spend forever wondering if you knew/I was enchanted to meet you.”
Yes, I was enchanted to meet you, Taylor.
by Weesie Cook