by G. Chaver
Taylor Swift was one of the first performers to teach me that women not only existed in music but could express their stories through art. This was crucial to developing my identity as a songwriter and human. Swift was someone I could latch onto, whose trials felt tangible to my own. From crushing on boys to getting my heart broken by friends or feeling like I wanted more than the town I grew up in could offer me, Taylor was there through it all with a catchy melody to ring resonance through whatever music player I was utilizing at the time.
In the fall of 2018, Taylor chose to move away from the label she grew into the music industry. However, when her old label –and thereby masters– were sold to a company associated with music executive Scooter Braun, Swift alleged that she had been snubbed and given no say in who her music was bought by. A common practice of the industry, labels will often take ownership of the masters of recorded music, specifically the original recordings. All variations and copies of a song will be built upon this master recording, thus making the owner of this copyright the dictator of what happens with this music… with or without the artist’s consent. From what I gather, it felt like her youth had been stolen from her, bought by the bullies who sprinkled hardships into her life throughout these years.
What was she to do? In a move that revolutionized the industry, Swift has chosen the path of re-recording every album she made in her career before the switch. By doing so, Taylor not only restored this work for herself but for me as well. Numerous pieces I associated with bad memories or were filtered by a youthful lack of depth gained new implications for my present day. What you see above and below are some snapshotted examples from my life thus far.
Without Taylor’s musical influence, I would not be the artist, nor being, I am today. Her poetic pieces gave me a lens through which I could grow, looking up to someone who had been through more life than I had, even if only by a handful of years. As I continue to stretch to make new strides in life, both literally and metaphorically sometimes, Swift’s music persists as a guide. She does not pretend to have all the answers and I am left with theories for solutions rather than concise conclusions, yet perhaps that is precisely one of the things music is meant to be.