May I call you Taylor? I know I don’t know you, but Ms. Swift sounds too formal, so I will opt for your first name. I like it. It’s beautiful, feminine with a hint of strength.
I have two daughters; Emma is 14 and facing the world of boys full blast, while 10-year-old Gabi is right around the corner. They like your music. A lot. And I understand: what girl hasn’t dreamed of the love story of Juliet, or experienced the pit of comparing themselves to the cute cheerleader (even if they’re not good friends with the cheerleader’s boyfriend)?
Truth be told, I like your music, too, and I don’t even like country music. It’s catchy, upbeat, and your voice adds a bit of youthful exuberance that is hard to resist. And what dad wouldn’t appreciate that Romeo, who was earning no points from Juliet’s dad, won permission from papa to present a ring?
I know you have this reputation, when you feel you’ve been wronged, of taking out your wrath on your ex-boyfriends through your music. But with the exception of “Dear John,” the lyrics I read show a young woman trying to feel her way through what she thought was love, only to learn the difficult lessons that sometimes come with love lost. Your lyrics are real, expressing regret, sadness, confusion, disappointment. Heartbreak. I don’t like that my girls will likely experience some of those same emotions, but I know that’s part of growing up.
And then came the Grammy Awards. Yeah, I know, the Grammy folks eat up anything saucy. Glitzy. In your face. And that performance definitely was all of those things. But I was watching with my family as you did your Broadway production of “We are never ever getting back together.” What did my girls learn from that? They learned that if someone breaks their heart, they should belittle the man who did it. My oldest daughter knows enough about Harry Styles to join millions who are fairly certain that your British-accented riff was aimed at making him feel small.
It was you who looked small.
I know I can’t relate to many things about your life, so what right do I have to criticize, right? A No. 1 song at the age of 16. Earnings of $165 million in the last four years (which is about $164 million and some of your pocket change more than I’ll ever see in my lifetime). I’m sure you have boys falling over themselves wanting to date you. And why not? You’re beautiful. Famous. Rich.
And you have willingly opened your heart, starting at age 18 with Joe Jonas. Then Taylor Lautner, John Mayer, Jake Gylenhaal, Conor Kennedy, and Styles. None for more than a few months. Many of them the love of your life, if your song lyrics are to be believed. And those are just the celebrities we know about.
Taylor, I’m sorry that you’ve been treated so poorly by so many boys. There’s a part of me that wonders if the problem, the common denominator, is you, but no one but you and those boys knows the truth to that. There’s a part of me that would humbly suggest that if you want to find a good man, maybe you should stop writing songs that reveal details better left unsaid, else you scare away the truly special man who could make your dreams come true.
It’s been a long time since I was 23 years old and trying to navigate matters of the heart, but I certainly remember my share of confusion and tears. It has to be exacerbated to the size of our national debt for a public figure such as yourself. But regardless, I have two girls to raise. Two girls who like Taylor Swift and her music. Who like to imagine they are Juliet. So as their dad, I’d just like to ask a favor: as you grow older, as you are better able to discern appropriate behavior in relationships, could you take it easy on the songs that try to hurt those who have hurt you? I may not be able to relate to your life, but I want my girls to hear not only your sadness, but your resolve to face issues of the heart with determination and maturity. As their dad, I want to be comfortable that they learn to deal with heartbreak as young women who can rise above the pettiness of the teenage years. They can learn that from you, if you’re willing.
But I also want to thank you, because there is a lesson my girls can take from your life: be careful about who you give your heart to, and how early.
I wish you the best in your career, but even more so in your heart.