Taylor Swift – her Story and her Impact

I’m not a Swiftie. But I am a football fan, and I watched the Kansas City Chiefs, who win most of the Superbowls nowadays. And there in the coaches’ box was this young blonde woman cheering and screaming for the Chiefs, because her boyfriend happens to be Travis Kelce, one of the best tight ends in the game.

If you missed it, Taylor Swift is on a concert tour, called Eras. The tour consists of 152 shows across five continents, and is set to conclude on December 8, 2024, in Vancouver. Taylor Swift actually flew back in a rush from a Japan concert to be at the Superbowl.

Forbes Magazine in October 2023 said Taylor Swift was a billionaire, and that the Eras Tour might boost the US economy by $4.6 billion from ticket revenues and tourism plus new jobs. Not bad for someone who is only 34 and single.

Then I ran across Taylor Swift once again….as Person of the Year in Time Magazine. That was a surprise because the prize is based on a person’s impact on the world. It’s been won by 14 US presidents, five leaders of Russia or the Soviet Union, three Popes, and a few notable heroes of industry. But it had never been won by an entertainer, until now.

Taylor Swift, Person of the Year 2023.

How has Taylor Swift impacted the world?
First, Swift is kind, humble and approachable, and loves people more than just seeing them as ticket-buyers. Her fans identify with her, and her songs. The songs seem to give meaning to the anxieties and feelings of a younger generation of people.

Second, some of her songs tell of tough times in her life that listeners can identify with. For example, when her mother contracted cancer, Swift created a song called, “Soon you’ll get better” that includes the words:
Holy orange bottles, each night I pray to you / Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus too.
Her faith seems to include healing by medicine but also allows for the miraculous.

Third, some of the words in her songs are quite brilliant — deeply thoughtful and emotionally moving. Time called her “The Poet Laureate of Pop Culture.” In 2023, in her album Midnights, one song called “Bigger than the Whole Sky” is a song about grief and mentioned the words,
Did some bird flap its wings over in Asia? / Did some force take you because I didn’t pray?
This apparently was in reference to a miscarriage.

The bird flapping its wings seems to be a metaphor for the butterfly effect, when a tiny disturbance in weather conditions in the eastern Atlantic Ocean can mold into a hurricane that strikes Florida many days later. That is, an insignificant event can have heavy, even devastating consequences. The words, “some force” is likely a reference to God, and the thought that she lost something because of her lack of faith.

There are at least two turning points in Taylor Swift’s life: the Kenny Chesney failure in 2006 when she was only 17, and the Kanye West abuse three years later in 2009.

Kenney Chesney failure.
The story was called “The Poet Laureate of Pop Culture” and beautifully told in the Time Magazine article, by Sam Lansky on 25 December 2024:
She was 17, she says, and she had booked the biggest opportunity of her life so far—a highly coveted slot opening for country superstar Kenny Chesney on tour. “This was going to change my career,” she remembers. “I was so excited.” But a couple weeks later, Swift arrived home to find her mother Andrea sitting on the front steps of their house. “She was weeping,” Swift says. “Her head was in her hands as if there had been a family emergency.” Through sobs, Andrea told her daughter that Chesney’s tour had been sponsored by a beer company. Taylor was too young to join. “I was devastated,” Swift says.

But some months later, at Swift’s 18th birthday party, she saw Chesney’s promoter. He handed her a card from Chesney that read, as Swift recalls, “I’m sorry that you couldn’t come on the tour, so I wanted to make it up to you.” With the note was a check. “It was for more money than I’d ever seen in my life,” Swift says. “I was able to pay my band bonuses. I was able to pay for my tour buses. I was able to fuel my dreams.”

Beyonce joined Swift in Los Angeles in October for the first screening of her Eras Tour film. Source: John Shearer — Getty Images for TAS.

Kanye West shocker.
This story was told in Premier Christianity Magazine under the title of “The Gospel according to Taylor Swift” by Martin Saunders, 31 January 2024. Here are Martin’s compelling words:
It’s been 15 years since Swift’s name first popped into the wider global consciousness. It was partly the consequence – back in 2009 – of a legendarily awkward moment at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), where Swift won Best Female Video for her song ‘You belong with me’. As she began her acceptance speech, rapper Kanye West stormed the stage, wrenching the microphone from Swift’s hand to pronounce that, in his view, Beyoncé was the far more deserving recipient. “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ll let you finish, but Beyoncé has one of the best videos of all time.”

It was a toe-curling moment for the watching world, but for Swift it turned out to be the first in a series of iconic, fan-winning moments. She fought back hysterical tears, allegedly, to compose herself in time to perform her winning song. She won the crowd and would go on – at last count – to win another 638 music awards around the world. Though she might not have known it then, that night at the MVAs may just have been her superhero origin story.

Takeaway.
Taylor Swift was raised in Tennessee, a part of the Bible Belt, and exposed to Christian culture. Her faith has been controversial but with one or two occasional proactive stances. Martin Saunders concludes, “Sometimes it’s enough just to sit back and enjoy the wonder of a glorious, God-given talent, and to allow them to bring some much-needed light to a darkened world.”

Jesus said something like this too: “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

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Kim McGrath
Kim McGrath
2 months ago

I really enjoyed reading this blog Ian. I like Taylor Swift and you gave a broad range of her life and talents. Good read!

Mary Ann
Mary Ann
2 months ago

I really enjoyed reading about Taylor Swift. I didn’t know much about her but she sounds like a great entertainer and person.

Char McCahon
Char McCahon
2 months ago

Taylor is very talented! I think she has been a good example for young ladies.
Thank you Ian for writing and printing this.
Char

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