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:

Review Corner: John Paul White’s Beulah

(Source: Single Lock Records via iTunes)
(Source: Single Lock Records via iTunes)

Once there was the Civil Wars…

It’s been four years since the band stopped touring (November 2012) and stopped altogether. It’s been a while for John Paul White, but he has been working on a new solo album, something he hasn’t done in eight years. Now he’s finally in a place where he can put out new music and the result is the new Beulah. I picked it up on a whim and recognized the voice and the guitar.

It’s hard not to make “What’s So” into an instant favourite. Dark overtones, upbeat tempo, lashing vocals, it wouldn’t be out of place in a western film. Then there’s subtle but insidious “Black Leaf”, feisty “Fight For You” and another folk anthem with “The Martyr”. On a different tone, there’s “The Once and Future Queen” and “I’ve Been Over This” for more Americana folk. The tug at the heartstrings come via “Make You Cry” and “Hope I Die”. You will definitely find some flavour reminiscent of the Wars’ Barton Hollow, but this one’s all John Paul White and the deep South Americana in bloom.

Here’s the video for “What’s So” which I can’t seem to stop listening to at the moment.

Watch on YouTube

You can pick up the album on iTunes. You might not be into folk music or the Americana genre, but then again you might. I’d suggest you try listening a little. It’s good to listen to a little of everything.

Coming up next in the Calendar:

News Update: The Civil Wars officially part ways

For some reason – or basically just a whim, I kept a candle burning for them to get back together (that’s a figure of speech) but finally we have to report Joy Williams and John Paul White will not be reuniting as the Grammy-winning duo The Civil Wars.

Here’s the official statement from their site:

(Photo: Taylor Swift)
(Photo: Taylor Swift)

The Civil Wars—made up of duo partners Joy Williams and John Paul White—have regretfully decided to permanently part ways. The difficult decision ends a tumultuous period for the four-time Grammy Award-winning band, who has been on indefinite hiatus since late 2012. As a thank you gift and farewell, the band is offering a download of their rendition of “You Are My Sunshine.” Recorded in 2010, the track was originally released in 2011 as a b-side to the band’s limited edition Barton Hollow 7” vinyl. This is the first time the song has been available digitally in the U.S. Both Joy and John Paul have added their personal words on disbanding here below. Joy Williams comments, “I am saddened and disappointed by the ending of this duo, to say the very least. JP is a tremendous musician, and I will always be grateful for the music we were able to create together. I sincerely hope that ‘You Are My Sunshine’ will be accepted as a token of my gratitude for every single person that has supported our duo throughout the years. I’m so thankful and my heart is full. Looking ahead, I’m excited to share the music that I am writing and recording in the midst of this difficult transition. I’ve loved being back in the studio, and have missed performing live. I look forward to seeing you soon.” John Paul adds, “I would like to express sincere thanks to all who were a part of the arc of The Civil Wars—from the beginning, to the end, and all points in between. My deep appreciation goes out to all who supported, disseminated, and enjoyed the music. Whatever shape or form the next chapter takes, thanks for being a large part of this one.”

The Civil Wars

You can follow each individually at @joywilliams and @johnpaulwhite. From all of us fans of their music, their brief but shining existence will be remembered as an example of how deep and soulful music can be. Thanks to Joy and John Paul for sharing their talent as a duo and here at the Swift Agency we just want to wish them the best in their individual careers and/or life projects.

You can download their parting gift for free, the song “You Are My Sunshine” from their official site at TheCivilWars.com

Coming up on the Calendar!

(Sources: TheCivilWars.com)

The Princess in Red performs All Too Well at the 56th Grammy Awards

(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Here we are again in this little town street…

Here at the Swift Agency, still a guy who’d like to be his young self again, we’re still recovering from the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. It was a long night and Taylor gave us everything she had. Looks, dress, dancing and the best live performance.

She didn’t win an award. Best Country Song  went to Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go Round” while Best Country Duo/Group Performance went to The Civil Wars for “From This Valley” during the Pre-Telecast. Best Country Album went to Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park while Album of the Year went to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.

The Blonde With The Sparkly Guitar gave hands down her best performance in any award show and one of her best live anywhere of “All Too Well”.

Watch on YouTube

Here’s an interview with TVGN on the Red Carpet:

Watch on YouTube

Thanks to Maria Trabalhadora and TVGN for posting! In another Red Carpet moment, make sure you check out Taylor Swift talking to Ryan Seacrest.

Up next, Taylor’s headed to London to continue the RED Tour. Opening concert is this Saturday, February 1st.

(Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
(Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Coming up on the Calendar!

  • February 1: The RED Tour in London, UK at the O2. Check herehere or here for ticket information.
  • February 2: The RED Tour in London, UK at the O2. Check herehere or here for ticket information.
  • February 4: The RED Tour in London, UK at the O2. Check herehere or here for ticket information.
  • February 7: The RED Tour in Berlin, Germany at O2 World. Check here for ticket information.
  • February 10: The RED Tour in London, UK at the O2. Check herehere or here for ticket information.
  • February 11: The RED Tour in London, UK at the O2. Check herehere or here for ticket information.

(Sources: 56th Annual Grammy Awards)

The 56th Grammy Awards Swiftlist: What you need to know tonight

(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Are we ready, Taylor Nation?

Here at the Swift Agency, I’m still a guy who’s going to have a long day today, we’re ready for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. The Sparkly Dressed hit the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy party last night. Amazing picture of the Queen of Sparks to your right.

The ceremony will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The show will be broadcast live on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). Taylor Swift will be performing. The Princess in Red has four nominations:

  • Album of the Year for RED.
  • Best Country Album for RED.
  • Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Highway Don’t Care” along with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban.
  • Best Country Song for “Begin Again”.

Taylor Swift and The Agency are performing. You can check out the complete list here. Personal highlight performances are Sara Bareilles, who be singing with Carole King (2014 MusiCares Person of the Year ), Kacey Musgraves and finally the Blonde With The Sparkly Guitar herself, Taylor Swift with a song we all might know too well.

Red Carpet Live Streams / Video Feeds:

  • GRAMMY Live will start a red carpet video feed as early as 12pm ET / 9am PT.
  • Fuse.tv has a red carpet live stream starting at 4pm ET / 1pm PT.
  • There’s an actual Livestream from Associated Press starting at 5pm ET / 2pm PT.
  • E! Online will have a live stream of the red carpet starting at 5:55pm ET / 2:33pm ET.

Let’s recap our highlighted artists from the road to the Grammy Awards:

Ed Sheeran and Kacey Musgraves are up for Best New Artist. Kacey Musgraves has both “Merry Go Round” and “Mama’s Broken Heart” against Taylor Swift’s “Begin Again” for Best Country Song. Sara Bareilles‘ The Blessed Unrest is up against Taylor Swift’s RED for Album of The Year. Additionally, Sara is up for Best Pop Solo Performance for “Brave”.

In other favorite artist news, The Civil Wars performance of “From This Valley” is nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance as well.

And the odds for Tay are…? Tough call. The Sparkly Dressed might not have a lock on Best Country Song with “Begin Again”. RED is not traditional country, so I’m not sure if it will get Best Country Album but it has pretty good odds with the award of the night, Album of the Year. On the other hand, “Highway Don’t Care” sure seems like a lock for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for Tim McGraw and his buddies Taylor Swift and Keith Urban.

Two of Taylor’s categories, Best Country Song and Best Country Duo/Group Performance will be awarded during the pre-telecast which is already under way.

Update! Best Country Song  went to Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go Round” while Best Country Duo/Group Performance went to The Civil Wars for “From This Valley”.

Here’s a picture of my favorite nominees tonight, Taylor Swift and Sara Bareilles. Good luck, ladies!

(Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
(Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Coming up on the Calendar!

  • January 26: The 56th Annual Grammy Awards will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The show will be broadcast live on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). Taylor Swift will be performing! She has four nominations: Album of the Year for RED, Best Country Album for RED, Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Highway Don’t Care” along with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban, and Best Country Song for “Begin Again”.

(Sources: 56th Annual Grammy AwardsE! OnlineFuse.tvLivestream/Associated Press)