Ode to Taylor Swift

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Dear Taylor Swift,

Thanks for being awesome and inspirational and lyrical and something a 37 year old mom and her girls can enjoy together. I spent over 7 hours putting this post together (yikes!), to share with my readers what I love about your music, and as a journal record keeping for my future self.  I adore your music, and love seeing what YOU do as a person. I didn’t make a light up poster for your concert (didn’t know that was a thing–see my concert experience below) nor did I dress up in a tutu or Starbucks uniform, but it doesn’t mean I {heart} you any less.  Though we will likely never meet for me to take your family pictures (see the end of this post), maybe you’ll read this, and see a different kind of love that your fans have for you.

Thanks for being uniquely you,

Kristen

***********************

I took my girls to the Taylor Swift concert last weekend in Dallas, and it was everything I had hoped and more! I had to overcome quite a few hurdles to get there, but it was worth the effort. Concerts aren’t really on my radar, I didn’t fully realize a World Tour was going on, and when I did, of course it’s already sold out. I’ve been looking off and on for 2 months, and finally just 5 days before, I found some for a pretty decent price. If I was going, it had to be with both of my girls, because they adore her music as much as I do. We didn’t meet T. Swift, we weren’t close at all, but the vibe of the place, the atmosphere, the big screen, jamming to our favorite tunes, the surprises, and the overall show was fantastic!

Thus, my ode to Taylor Swift…

Ode to Taylor Swift concert 1989 World Tour

I’m not much of a concert go-er. I have to REALLY like the person/music, and know a good handful of their songs to want to go. I can count on two hands the concerts I’ve been to in my life:

elementary school:

  • Debbie Gibson
  • The Beach Boys

High School:

  • Duran Duran (won tickets off the radio after calling in with a friend at 1 am)
  • John Michael Montgomery at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

College:

  • Counting Crows (my husband and I bonded over them)

Post college:

  • Tim McGraw (TWICE!)
  • The Raging Idiots (Bobby Bones Show act)

Thats it.

Those concerts are each so memorable, I have vivid memories being at each one, and who I was with. They have a way of defining a time in life, and way of preserving a period of time in a unique way.

So having only been to a few concerts told me that I could not ignore that nagging feeling to do what I could to find some tickets for the 1989 World Tour. I love more of  her songs than almost all of those artists combined. Well, she may be tied with Tim McGraw and Debbie Gibson (together in songs). It didn’t help that I follow Taylor Swift on instagram, and with every concert she performed, I’d see amazing pictures, and I wanted to be there even more, when she came to Texas. {Have you seen she brings cameo guests to each performance?}

SO I did it.

I bit the bullet.

Just 5 days before the concert, I bought 3 tickets for $150 each off of a 3rd party site. {Sorry, Taylor, I would have bought them directly from you if I could!} Then I came out of semi-retirement from photography and scheduled a bunch of mini portrait sessions to fight the knots in my stomach from such a purchase (combined with extravagant 40th birthday celebrations for my husband the weekend previous).

We made these shirts the day before, and accessorized with red lips (and rosy cheeks) just like T. Swift herself.

mom and daughters made shirts for Taylor Swift Concert

Had to throw in some red nails as well.

She was born in 1989, I was born in 1978. We are 11 years apart, but don’t we all feel like we are 17…or 22 inside? Yeah, I do. Though it may sound cliche, I identify with so many of her lyrics and adore (in what I feel, because I don’t actually KNOW her) is such a good heart of hers. I love how she has connected with fans from all over, and has done thoughtful things to show her gratitude (like inviting fans into her home for a mini concert). She has a genuine smile and giddiness about life, that tells me I’d enjoy her company. I feel giddy about life, too. So much to love, so much to be grateful for. I’m sure it’s challenging to be placed on a pedestal with fans though, as it’s hard to live up to expectations. Just as I kinda hate the phrase “Supermom” because I think of all of my flaws, hearing that reminds me of how much of a non-super mom I can be.

I digress…

At the concert, she shared little tidbits of advice for girls, and as a mother, I really appreciate that. Later, my 10 year old daughter recalled her pep talk, and said she liked when she said, “Being cool doesn’t mean acting bored” and “People who don’t know you, aren’t entitled to an opinion.”   I love that my girls can see someone like her who appears to have it all, and to know that she’s had tough times with friends, too, and heartbreak, too. It’s a normal process of life, that we all have to fight through to come out on the other side. There is something about the fact that she writes her own lyrics, knowing that she has struggled with what her songs are often about (with poetic liberty, of course).

I love so many of her songs. I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not an “album purchaser” I just pick and choose those songs I love to download, often those that have already been on the radio. It’s always been that way for me, even with Debbie Gibson when I had her entire cassette tape, if the song wasn’t on the radio, it was somehow harder for me to jump into and love.  That subtle repetition really works.

I LOVE all the angst in Taylor Swift lyrics. She taps into that real emotion, and for some reason, I love that young love angst. Something so real and raw and alive that comes from truly feeling emotions. As an adult (in a happy low-drama marriage), it’s fun for me to re-live angst in that way through music and movies, because I remember my emotions being so heightened in my dating years, and I can look back and say…”ah yes, that was raw and awful and awesome all at the same time.” Emotional drama is my fave!

My girls are still a bit too young to get all of that, but you can bet as they get older, I’ll relate to them how I’ve been through a lot of that drama and come out on the other side in a healthy, happy place. Sometimes, I had to dig deep, walk forward with faith and intention, and forge through each day. The uncertainty of looking for a true love is what makes the angst all the more raw.

I’m happy to say that I had some great relationships in my life, and even though they didn’t all lead to marriage, I grew and stretched and learned from caring deeply for another in a way that I wasn’t sure how it was going to end up. I still have a great mutual respect for each person that I had a serious relationship with. I feel grateful for that.

I digress again…

My two girls approached this concert in two funny different ways. My oldest is more practical and felt guilty about going, assuming it cost a lot, and didn’t want me to “waste” money. “Too bad,” I said, “I already bought them, I’d love you to go with us.” My youngest jumped and squealed from the moment I told her. I’m happy to report that we were ALL jumping and squealing all night.

I love my girls facial expressions in our “jamming out” picture below. This was right before the concert in a parking lot with Six Flags in the background, we were SOO excited!

dancing to Taylor Swift songs

Once inside, we took the escalators all the way up…up…up…to the very top of the AT&T stadium. We walked in to this frenzied, loud, and oh so exciting atmosphere.

On each seat was taped a bracelet, and once the concert began, we found that they were synched to the music and lit up to the beat. It was SO fun! It changed colors throughout the concert, and she mentioned at one point, that it helped her to “see all of us” instead of looking out to a sea of darkness. I love this shot below, where all of the lights were turned down, and each of our bracelets were BLUE.

Taylor Swift singing Fifteen at World Tour Concert in Dallas

I took a bunch of pictures…and a few videos

I gathered my little video clips into one, it’s 5 minutes long. If you want to feel like you are there…see me singing with my girls…or check out the light show, have a watch. It’s kinda choppy..the beginning 5 seconds is sideways, then I love the “awe” stare of my girls on the first song “Welcome to New York”, then we sing (where I look crazy, and the camera selfie is rough), then I love the lights flashing in “Trouble”, you can really hear me singing in “Fifteen”, and my fave is my youngest singing her favorite song, “Bad Blood.” She was SO excited when it came on. I love the “HEY!” part she sings. Unfortunately, I didn’t get Taylor’s “wise council” on video, but got a little of her just chatting it up. And sorry, there are no full songs, just badly cut clips!

So sparkly, so fun. That big screen really made being up in the nosebleeds ok. It was fun to see it up close, but I wanted to see more of the presentation/back up singers at times, and we couldn’t see the video interviews she had her friends do on the main stage (wonder if that’s on you tube?), while they changed scenes. But I really did feel up close and personal with T.S. with this giant screen.

Taylor Swift in Concert

 

Here are a list of some of my favorites songs and why I love them (in no particular order). Linking to her music videos on VEVO because the songs are even more alive once viewing the fun videos:

Fifteen:  I tend to tear up when I hear/sing it, because she’s talking about such an emotional time in life, and how there is so much in store, but it’s hard to see past that teenage angst. Being on the other side, I see it as so wise. She sings about meeting her best friend, how they were affected by mean girls, and how when her friend got her heart broken, they both cried. I had a best friend like that (Natalie) when I was 15, and I hope my girls do, too.  It meant everything to me to have a friend like that (we are still close), and I love that this song shares some hope for those crazy years. P.S. That’s really Abigail in the video.

Teardrops on my Guitar: I’m pretty sure it was this song that introduced me to Taylor Swift. Was it her first single? If I were a super fan, I’d know. I consider myself a super fan, just don’t know all the facts. I remember telling my sis in law how much I loved this angst riddled song, and she said, “is she the kind of flawless you wish you could be?”  It surprised me to hear that my punk listening to SIL knew the lyrics!  My favorite part of the song (besides the whole idea of it…again, angst) is the end, “he’s all that I need to fall into….I fake a smile so he won’t see.”

Our Song: Just an awesome and fun song. I remember singing this with my boys a LONG time ago. Back before they weren’t sure if it was ok to like Taylor Swift, and still be a cool teenage boy.  I’m pretty sure my cute boys would be crushing all over her if they took a minute to notice. I know they have a secret affinity to her songs. Favorite line: “On the phone, talking real slow…’cause it’s late and his momma don’t know” Pure country, right there.

You Belong with Me: Love everything about this song. Teen angst at it’s finest, girl pining after the boy who is pining after someone else.  Lyric love: “…I’m on the bleachers, dreamin’ ’bout the day when you wake up and find that what you’re looking for has been here the whole time.” “Have you ever thought just MAY-BEee, you belong with me.”  I needed to remind my husband that he belonged with me during our drama riddled love story.

singing Taylor Swift tunes

We are Never Getting Back Together: Although I never experienced a similar type of break-up, I can’t help but love this song! Even my husband who broke my heart for a season, I WANTED to get back together (it was all so complicated). But I’ve seen friends go through the drama of a back and forth, with guys begging to get back together, when they should just let it be!  “You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me.” Yeah, lots of friends talking to each other to get things sorted out, back in those high school days. I also love the Indie record part.  I’ll admit, I don’t get the animals dancing at the slumber party in the video.

The Best Day: Everything about this song makes me emotional. Listening to it as a mother, I hope that my children will realize how much I adore them. The music video inspires me to take more video! I love how she sings about recognizing that her mother has done so much for her. How when she had a rough day as a teenager, that her mom knew just what to do, and they took a drive and just window shopped, til “I’d forgotten all their names….” I love that she has so many great videos with her mom as a little kid.  Also love, “God smiles on my little brother, inside and out, he’s better than I am.” I love that she takes an opportunity to pay tribute to her family through song. I HOPE my kids adore their siblings as much as I adore them. If only a fraction. That line makes my heart happy.

Tim McGraw: Ummm, I went to his concert TWICE. That could be enough, but the idea behind this song is that certain songs or singers remind us of certain events and people in our lives. Music has always been a big part of my life, and takes me back, and this summarizes that perfectly. PLUS, my bestie Natalie and I used to sing like crazy to Tim McGraw songs, and a lot of them remind me of HER and how we’d dream of our future husbands. Those were some good times.

Love Story: Classic. Timeless.  I’m pretty sure everyone loves this song, but it reminds me so much of my kids busting it out years ago. “Romeo, save me, they’re trying to tell me how to feel…this love is difficult, but it’s re-EAL” and “Marry me Juliet, you’ll never have to be alone” are my two favorite lines.

Speaking of Love Stories, have you read mine?
My-Love-Story

I haven’t even mentioned SOOO many of the songs from the 1989 album that have become my all time favorites. If I had to narrow it down to my top 5, this is what I’d choose:

Blank Space: This was my favorite song on the album long before it ever came out as a single on the radio. My two favorite lines from the song; “So it’s gonna be forever or it’s gonna go down in flames.”   and   “It’ll leave you breathless, or with a nasty scar.” Isn’t that true about love? Breathless or a nasty scar? Forever or flames? Yeah, pretty much every time. I’ve got my forever, but I found, even when I was doing the breaking of another heart, it went down in flames in some way or another. Heart wrenching to be the one to end a relationship, too, not just get dumped. I should add that my husband is personally offended at the line “boys only want love if it’s torture” ha ha!  Love is a certain kind of torture whether it works or not. That video has over a BILLION views, and I could watch it over and over. Running through the elaborate garden in formal clothes….trashing a fancy car with a golf club…standing tall on top of a horse…riding bikes inside of a fancy home.  It’s so dream-like and pretty…I don’t think I’ve shown my girls yet. Maybe when they understand a little bit more about that teen angst.

Shake it Off: I mean, how can I not add this? A quintessential “dance like you just don’t care” song. I simply love the message (for myself and my girls) that we need to do our best to ignore the mean in this world, and live a life of joy.  Haters gonna hate, hate hate. Feel bad for them, because they don’t have as much joy in their life, that’s why they hate. Find a way to love them, nonetheless. Don’t let them get to you. The video is also awesome.  My girls sub “the guy over there with he h*lla good hair” to “really good hair.” We don’t do the swearing thing, but I love how they can do their own subs without my mentioning it.

This was the final song at the concert, she came in and went out with a BANG! I loved how she danced around with so much energy and smiles, as if it was her first ever concert. She even had a bandaged up finger that IG told us she got a kitchen wound that day, that must have been painful. Below, I love a good action shot.

Taylor Swift concert finale

How you Get the Girl: To my dismay, no official video for this song. It’s been one of my fave’s from the start, also. “I want you, for worse or for better, I could wait for ever and ever….” THAT’S how it works!  Don’t all girls want a dashing man to sing this to us? Yeah, my husband pretty much did…in those words, more or less. As the only girl growing up with 3 brothers, I felt it was my duty to educated them on how to get the girl. Filled with all kinds of drama, I wanted to make sure they got it right. They married some pretty fabulous women, so I feel I did my job pretty well!

Style: Yeah, lots of love for this one. “You’ve got that James Dean, daydream, look in your eye….I’ve got that Red lip, classic, thing that you like….when we go crashing down, we come back every time, we never go out of STYLE.”

Wildest Dreams: I just recently downloaded this song. How could I not love it from the beginning? Surely, it was an oversight. I could have been loving it longer! Alas, I love it now. The music in this song is breathtaking…the VIDEO is also quite dreamy, and who doesn’t love the offspring of Clint Eastwood? The music at the chorus is so sweeping and powerful. “Say you’ll remember me….even if it’s only in your Wildest Dreams.” Isn’t that what we all want? To be remembered fondly by those from the past? My girls substitute the “handsome as “H*ll” word to “handsome as….well…”  Ha ha! I can’t get the line ,”Red lips and rosy cheeks….burnin’ it down” out of my head. And that heartbeat throughout….amazing. Then she gets quiet towards the end, with a pause, and it comes BOOMING back! Bam! I love it. See, I instagrammed that phrase on the pic I shared just before the concert.

Instagram of Taylor Swift shirts

So those are my favorite songs! Can you relate??? So many great lyrics!

I love this shot up close with her gold microphone. She had a few different glittery microphones, and it was fun to notice those fun details, along with her fabulous sparkly clothes, and dance moves. The drill team performer in me, ate it all up. She’s got great energy.

Taylor Swift gold microphone

Just a little collage of a few other fun shots from the concert:

Taylor Swift in Concert

People Throw Rocks at Things that Shine. This line comes from the song, Ours, that I DON’T have every lyric memorized, but this line sums up why I love her music so much. She shines, yet has people throwing rocks at her. Why is the world so cruel?!? I try my hardest to shine to the world around me, and I have had rocks thrown at me, too, for just trying to be positive. It’s painful, but we gotta dust ourselves off, and move forward. But, we all have our own rocks, don’t we? Whether it’s people or circumstances, it’s part of life!

Here are a few other things that I love about Taylor Swift:

  • How she has handled her Kanye moment? Gracefully. True testament of forgiveness, and a loving heart.
  • I love that she is still best friends with Abigail, and threw here a hug surprise party earlier this year.
  • I ADORE this video her mom took of she and her brother hunting for Easter eggs, and I think…I wish I was there to capture her mom’s face and expression, but I love the joy in her voice behind the video. As I’ve said, moms need to get in more pictures!

I was surprised to realize that there are so many GREAT Taylor Swift songs that I’m not familiar with. I must NOT be a super fan, what is my problem? I’ve been downloading more, and watching her VEVO station since the concert, and it’s like giddily un-wrapping a new present I didn’t know I needed.

fireworks at the end of Taylor Swift show

As I’ve been following her on Instagram the past year or so, I’ve loved the glimpse into her life. I love seeing that she’s having fun with her girlfriends, and THIS picture is among my favorites!

As a photographer, whenever I make a new friend, or connect with someone, all I want to do is capture them. To photograph those moments that might not otherwise be frozen. To be that fly on the wall…and give them a gift of LIFE CAPTURED. I know she has a lot of her life preserved, so many fabulous magazine covers, and paparazzi following. But to capture her with her friends or family at home or a favorite place in a more intimate way, would be a gift I’d love to give, to say thank you for inspiring me and my girls.

***So, Taylor, if you ever read this, let me know when I can come capture your joy, and bring my girls as my assistants! Or maybe you want to learn to Say NO to Auto on your camera…I can teach you;)***

Thanks for giving a mom and her daughters something to bond over, we look forward to many more albums to come.

red lips and rosy cheeks for Taylor Swift

It’s less than likely that this reaches her, but hopefully it will inspire others to check out my favorite songs of hers, and maybe connect with those of you out there that HEART her as much as I do.

What are some of your favorite Taylor Swift songs?

Raise your hand if you actually read this entire thing!

Now drop a note to tell me you read this, so I can know if I have others out there who loves her music as much as I do!

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Comments

  1. awesome. my girls love TS as well, and i would love to take them someday!

  2. I’m so glad you ladies had such a great time! And thank you for taking those seven hours and putting into words how I feel about Taylor Swift too! To be honest, my sister and her roommate got tickets and went when she was in New Jersey and I have been kicking myself ever since, so I am so so happy you listened to that nagging feeling! I’m sure your girls will remember it forever.:)

  3. Love it!! My daughter has loved her since she came on scene so many years ago. I think she thinks she looks similar to her – tall, lanky & pretty with a little geek thrown in there too. So she sort of latched on to her as someone to look up to. With all that is out there – I think she’s a great role model. Would love to take her to see her one day. So fun.

  4. Loved your post! I went to the concert with my sister (we got our tickets the week before too!) and it was totally awesome. The energy there was amazing, right? And I too discovered her videos after the concert and I’ve been watching and singing all week long!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      We’ve been living parallel lives! LOVE the videos! Such amazing energy in the concert, my daughter keeps playing the videos on my phone over and over!

  5. I love T.Swift. Going to one of her concerts is on my “concert bucket list” 🙂 It looks like you and your daughters had an amazing time.

  6. FUN!!! I read this whole thing, yes I did! 🙂 You and your girls are so darn cute and I absolutely enjoyed watching your video of you guys singing along!

  7. I never really got into her until this last album but I work out to it. My kids love never, ever getting back together and Welcome to New York. They yell-sing them all the time. The concert looked like the best time! <3