Saturday, January 03, 2009

#83 Taylor Swift, "Love Story"

So I sneak out to the garden to see you
We keep quiet cause we're dead if they knew
So close your eyes
Escape this town for a little while

Let's get one thing clear: this placing is based on the original, "country" version, not the pop radio mix. The original has more than enough pop appeal and the pop mix takes away some of the song's best elements, including that gentle strummy guitar line.

I realize that Taylor Swift is divisive, loved by some and completely not understood by others, with the latter group tending to find the video for "Love Story" as an infuriating representation of fairy tale love targeted straight at teenagers, and particularly teen girls. For me, though, that's part of what makes the video and the song so great. Not all teen girls all the same, but in society as it is now, whether they'll admit it or not, when venturing into the confusing world of relationships, love, and sex, most teen girls do spend part of their time dreaming of romantic visions about what it will be or could be like, and I absolutely don't see anything disempowering about that; it's completely natural.

"Love Story" lyrically works for me in a way similar to Trisha Yearwood's 1991 single "She's In Love With The Boy" does. Country's willingness to engage in narrative makes it an ideal format for playing out a situation that replays itself around the world every day: the girl whose boyfriend doesn't have her parents' approval, the sneaking out, the courtship...and even if the resolution to the songs' narrative is a case of wish fulfillment, what's wrong with that? Sometimes stories do end happily, sometimes you do need to believe that there's a chance for a happy ending; never-ending cyncism would make for a pretty tough life to lead, and one that wouldn't necessarily be any more representative of reality.

That Taylor has told that story through a country song that manages to be musically powerful, beautiful, and catchy all at once makes the end product even better, and is my real reason for loving "Love Story."

Find it on: Fearless

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