The 10 Year Anniversary of Taylor Swift, the album

(Source: Big Machine Records)
(Source: Big Machine Records)

Sometimes I’m out of words, Taylor Nation.

Taylor Swift released her self-titled debut album back in October 24, 2006. Her name was starting to sound familiar in country music channels. Back then I was not yet a fan. I had arrived in Canada a year before. A friend of mine who was a Rascal Flatts fan had turned me onto country music. It wouldn’t be until the year of Fearless of 2009 that I would start watching her video blogs and become a fan. The blog was born on November 10, 2009.

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy that knows he’s late writing this, we started as a new fan. We missed the years of Taylor Swift making a name for herself in local town fairs. She was a rarity, a teenager that would spend her free time writing songs and playing small venues. A teenage country singer? Who would’ve bet on that? Much has been written about Taylor going for the untapped country music teenage market. What record label would take that risk back in 2005? Enter Scott Borchetta, and the birth of Big Machine Records (now a label group) and the Spark – wait, I can’t call her that yet – and Taylor had a record deal. Let’s be honest, even back then Scott was a force to be reckoned with but Big Machine was in its infancy. Taylor was taking a huge risk too.

By the way, it was Taylor who brought Nathan Chapman, the producer who had made her demo CD, to Big Machine Records.

Taylor’s first studio album was going to be the make-or-break for both Taylor Swift and Big Machine in late 2006. “Tim McGraw” was already a single since June of the same year. Her name was starting to sound. So many things were riding on this album. It wasn’t an overnight chart-topper but it was received positively, debuting on the Billboard 200 on the nineteenth spot with 40,000 copies sold. The sales would rise to a peak number of 187,000 in January 2008. The album peaked at number 5 on January 19, 2008. Here in Canada, Taylor Swift reached the 14th spot on the Canadian Albums Chart and number one on the Canadian Country Albums Chart.

The album was certified five times platinum by the RIAA on February 2014. In Billboard’s Greatest Albums of All Time it comes in at number 18. Fearless comes in at number 4.

That’s all well for numbers and figures, but what do you remember and love about T’s first foray studio album? I remember seeing the video for “Picture to Burn”. I also remember first loving the song “I’m Only Me When I’m With You”, which was a track only available in the deluxe edition. I remember I didn’t discover “Tim McGraw”, meaning really, really listening to it, until later and realizing how amazing that song is. I remember realizing that “Our Song” is kind of a favourite for Taylor Swift. If she’s doing an acoustic segment for her classic songs and nobody has any suggestions, she’ll play it first.

Well… Those acoustic moments are now scarce. When they do, there’s more chance we’ll hear something newer or more popular. Taylor Swift was after all, her first album and a country album at that. It was the times in which she had a twang in her voice, she was never caught anywhere without her boots and her hair was always in curls. She was also a fan of the sundress, which is the reason you still see the littlest fans in sundress and boots. Nowadays, her boots have heels and she’s the one wearing short skirts.

Perhaps that’s one thing Taylor didn’t have back then and the one skill she’s had to develop. She’s learned to evolve and grow and experiment. That is a part of anybody’s life but in the world of music, specially of pop music, the Sparkly Dressed can’t keep the same look twice. She’s also moved on to pop music, something that has taken her audience some time to accept. For that reason, we always have this album to remind us of the country times. The way we’ve learned to see it, Taylor Swift has become her own genre and her own style. And yes, she’s always trying to rehearse and prepare for all her performances. It comes with the territory, but improvisation is a luxury that she doesn’t take on her big concerts.

So if you’re not doing anything special for this 10th anniversary, I invite you to pop the old album in the record play- I mean, pop the CD in the – I mean, just bring up the album in your iTunes playlist and listen to some old Taylor for a while. Better times? Too raw? I think there’s one or two songs that can still make you sing along in there.

Coming up next, on next year’s calendar:

(Sources: Big Machine RecordsWikipedia, CMT News)

What we came for: Taylor Swift at the Circuit of the Americas!

Remember when you hit the brakes too soon, Taylor Nation?

(Source: @TaylorNation13)
(Source: @TaylorNation13)

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who does not condone irresponsible driving, we hope everyone drove carefully and left the racing to the race track. As for the ninjas and me, we spent it at home and watching the social networks for details. My thanks to @TSwiftNZ, @TSwiftOnTour, @Enchanted2MeetU and @901Music for keeping us up to date. There’s one advantage I can’t deny when Taylor hits a smaller stage, and that’s the fact that the Agency (Taylor Swift’s band, this blog is named after them, long story) gets a lot closer. It does also imply there’s no dance crew.

Here’s the set list if you’re curious:

  • Blank Space
  • I Knew You Were Trouble
  • Style
  • You Belong With Me
  • Fifteen
  • Holy Ground
  • We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together/Bad Blood
  • Love Story (1989 Tour version)
  • This Is What You Came For
  • Sparks Fly
  • Enchanted/Wildest Dreams
  • Out Of The Woods
  • Shake It Off

The Enchantress took the stage at around 7:30pm to start a show transitioning through a set list that included most if not all her greatest hits. Obvious omission from the list is “All Too Well” which was replaced with “This Is What You Came For”, the single written with Calvin Harris.

Watch on Instagram

Up next! 2017? Yes, seems we’re not getting any more Swift in this year’s calendar.

(Sources: @TSwiftNZ@TSwiftOnTour@Enchanted2MeetU@901Music)

Taylor is just making sure you know where you’re going on October 22nd

(Source: Taylor Swift via Twitter)
(Source: Taylor Swift via Twitter)

It’s not Austin, Manitoba in Canada, Taylor Nation.

The Blonde With The Sparkly 1989 Microphone is shaping things into shape as she and the Agency (the band, in case you’ve been living under a rock) are in rehearsals for the upcoming concert this Saturday, October 22. Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who’s got bills to pay, we’re going to sit this one out because real life and other boring grown-up excuses. However, we still hope we can get you some pictures so we can all be jealous of the fans that got to see her.

The Grammy-winning songstress headlines a special concert at the Formula 1 US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas on October 22nd.

T-Swizzle also took to Instagram to share some clips of the rehearsals plus this cute message making sure you know where to go:

Watch on Instagram.

Watch on Instagram.

Watch on Instagram.

Coming up next in the Calendar:

(Source: Taylor Swift via Instagram)

That’s when I could finally breathe. An editorial.

I hope it’s nice where you are, Taylor Nation.

(Photo: TheSwiftAgency.com)
(Photo: TheSwiftAgency.com)

There might be a time when you don’t feel like yourself. Perhaps you’ve had one of those already. It is World Mental Health today, and I’m going to tackle that most rocky of subjects. I know that a lot of you have an ongoing battle against depression. I still remember the old days when the musical duo called the Civil Wars formed. Their name comes that quote often attributed to Plato: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” It is my interpretation, but I’ve always see that battle as everyone’s internal struggle with their own demons. Coincidentally, I’ve  always found something both sad and soothing about a lot of the music from the Civil Wars.

I feel I have to put a huge disclaimer here and say that I’m not claiming that music is by no means a replacement to a consultation with a professional. I am adding my two cents on how music tends to play a role in my own life, something that you might share but it’s not a cure by any means. Mental health issues should always be discussed with a professional.

Fast forward to Taylor’s 1989 and you find “Clean”. This track, co-penned with Imogen Heap, tackles a little more than a break up. It feels like the character in this song is overcoming something deeper. Honestly, I’m not sure what was the original inclination of the song but in concert this performance is preceded by a speech in which Taylor’s intro turns the song into a cathartic and healing experience. Again, I must insist, this is not a replacement for a professional consultation. If playing a song helps, that’s all the better. Just don’t stop there.

Here’s Tay’s intro to “Clean” the first time she came up with it in Tokyo, Japan.

Maybe you lost someone you never expected you would lose. Maybe you lost yourself. That’s even worse. When you have bad days that just won’t let up, I just hope that you will look in the mirror and remind yourself of what you are and what you are not.

You are not your mistakes.
You are not damaged goods or money from your failed explorations.
You are not the opinion of someone who doesn’t know you.

You are a product of the lessons that you’ve learned.
You are wiser because you went through something terrible.
And you are the person who survived a bunch of rainstorms and kept walking.

I now believe that pain makes you stronger. And now I believe that walking through a lot of rainstorms gets you… Clean.

– Taylor Swift, May 5 1989, Tokyo, Japan.

Here’s how it evolved for St. Paul, Minnesota:

I was in my meet-and-greet tonight, and I met this amazing guy, who was just thanking me for writing one of the songs on the album, and it’s the song I’m gonna play…after I’m done talking for a hundred years. But he said that it helped him get through a breakup, and it got me thinking about the concept of what it’s like to have someone in your life, to let someone into your life, and share all your secrets with them. And all these wonderful things happen, like wishful thinking and daydreaming, and kind of imagining maybe your future with that person in it, and trusting them and letting them see things that you used to think were your flaws, but letting them accept those things about you. And then if you have to lose that person and all of a sudden that person’s not in your life anymore.

You know, heartbreak is such a general term for all these other things that happen to us: the unbearable letdown, the embarrassment that you let this person in and it was all for nothing, the humiliation of having introduced this person to everyone in your life and now everyone knows that it didn’t work out, feeling like you failed. All these things happen to you when you get your heart broken, and then the horrible thing is they make you then regret all the wonderful things that you did in order to let that person into your life. Wishful thinking is beautiful. Daydreaming is beautiful. Being a hopeless romantic is beautiful.

So then you get your heart broken, and you walk around through this world like time is moving in slow motion, like you’ve got some open wound that only you can see. You feel like you’ve got writing all over you that says, ‘I am in pain. I have just gotten my heart broken.’ You feel like you’re haunted by the memories of what this could have been and what would this day be like if this person hadn’t left my life. And then one day, you start to replace the old habits with new ones. And you stop checking your phone in the morning for a ‘good morning’ text. And you start replacing what used to be someone you were in love with, with time with your friends. And maybe you pick up some new hobbies, and maybe you start living your life the way you would want to live it if no one else had any influence over it.

And then one day, for me, you find yourself walking down the street and you get this idea in your head for a song about how all the struggle and feeling like you’re tarnished by love, feeling like heartbreak defined you for so long. That cloud is finally lifted, and then there’s this day that comes, and I promise you it comes no matter how heartbroken you are. There’s a day that comes when all of a sudden all that writing that you thought was on you is gone, and you look in the mirror, and you’re clean.

-Taylor Swift, September 11, 2015, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Now, if you don’t mind I want to take a slight detour. Personally, I’ve often find myself traveling roads I’ve already travelled. In this day and age, it seems everyone has to have a position on every topic. Worst is when people are quick to box you into a particular corner. I’m guilty of doing this as well. Don’t be afraid to take a third option. If you find something unfair, it doesn’t mean you necessarily must side with the opposite side. It might be you actually can see some truth in two sides of a debate. And you also find yourself disagreeing on some other subjects with both sides. Don’t get bullied into compromising your point of view. You don’t have lump in with anybody. We’re all individuals after all.

As for looking for wisdom in pop lyrics… I’m going to say, never read just one source. Never read just one book. Read often, listen to other people, make your own mind up.

Coming up next in the Calendar:

News Update: The Sparkly Dressed and the AT&T Deal

Hopefully in your not-so-wildest dreams, Taylor Nation.

(Source: ATT.com)
(Source: ATT.com)

The Blonde With The Sparkly 1989 Microphone is a little too quiet. Without a new album, new music and no tour coming up, we figure out that T-Swizzle needs to let Sparks Fly somewhere. She’s recently signed a deal with AT&T for several feature performances and content. Described only as multi-facet and multi-year, the first thing in the deal is Taylor Swift headlining the 12th annual DIRECTV Super Saturday Night concert in Houston on February 4th, 2017. The event precedes the Super Bowl the very next day.

According to the press release, “Fans will have access to tickets through a series of exclusive AT&T promotions and campaigns.” Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who might just be a little too paranoid and judgemental about the way people write things, we are quite cautious about the way the word exclusive feels in that sentence. You can’t buy tickets to that event. they will be offered only through promotions, contests and so forth. I’m counting on the Taylor Nation getting some fan offers/codes to get access.

I am glad she will still be able to perform for a crowd, but with limited access to this event getting to be part of that audience is not going to be a walk in the park. Of course, I expect AT&T to film the performance but it would nicer if they could stream it (although chances are that stream will also be exclusive). Okey, sorry to be a negative Old-Man-Swift. I’m cautiously happy about the deal. I’ll call off the ninjas for now.

Coming up next in the Calendar:

(Sources: AT&T)