Have we ever had a popstar like Taylor Swift? She is easily the smartest star of her generation, that almost goes without saying, but that isn’t enough. She is also the only popstar who uses her position to position herself as a caring young woman. One who almost seems capable of being what we’d hope our popstars are, one of us and also one of them.
With news that Taylor was joining the Voice as a mentor I made a mental note that I was gonna be finally forced to at least check out a show or two but not excited enough to write about it, but this letter Taylor Swift wrote to a bullied teen is enough for me to be want to pay attention.
About bullying: it is always happening and always happened but is it the epidemic you might think it is? Imagine if you were that kid being bullied? Would it matter to you if it wasn’t an epidemic? What difference would it make? It is like I’ve been trying to explain about civilians in the Middle east not caring who is killing them, they are equally dead.
And it is always a question of finite compassion.
For me, my place of entry was my high school, a British all boy school where they beat you for incontinence or fiddling your taxes (to quote John Cooper Clarke) and every day there was the terror of harsh physical punishment, caning, for just about any reason: there was no escaping it. So that’s one sort of institutionalized bullying and really, if you’re not Taylor Swift, everybody bullies you every moment of your life: it’s called your job, where you have no way to protect yourself from unfairness.
And really, life is a very difficult proposition. if you are too protected as a child you won’t find yourself with the immune system to get through it alive. I recently wrote life is about getting through 75 years or so without any major disasters -you can’t deal with it, you can’t survive it, without getting through the minor disasters in one piece. You need a thick skin.
Taylor was bullied in High School though she was such a pretty young girl it is a little hard to imagine. Maybe something to do with her height. Certainly and at least it feels as though she has a feel for what the bullied goes through. Here is her letter to the bullied teen:
“Reading this made me so sad because I love seeing you in your videos and photos being so happy and wide eyed, like the world isn’t as harsh and unfair as it actually is. I hate thinking about your pretty face covered in tears, but I know why you’re crying because I’ve been in your place. This isn’t a high school thing or an age thing. It’s a people thing. A life thing. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t end or change.
“People cut other people down for entertainment, amusement, out of jealousy, because of something broken inside them. Or for no reason at all. It’s just what they do, and you’re a target because you live your life loudly and boldly. You’re bright and joyful and so many people are cynical. They won’t understand you and they won’t understand me.
“But the only way they win is if your tears turn to stone and make you bitter like them. It’s okay to ask why. It’s okay to wonder how you could try so hard and still get stomped all over. Just don’t let them change you or stop you from singing or dancing around to your favorite song.
“You’re going into high school this week and this is your chance to push the reset button on how much value you give the opinion of these kids, most of whom have NO idea who they are. I’m so proud of you and protective of you because you DO. If they don’t like you for being yourself, be yourself even more.
“Every time someone picks on me, I’ll think of you in the hopes that every time someone picks on you, you’ll think of me… and how we have this thread that connects us. Let them keep living in the darkness and we’ll keep walking in the sunlight.
“Forever on your side, Taylor.”
helped solidify Tony Orlando and Dawn’s place in pop music history.
Busted to the side
an easier separation in seasons as the summer of 2023 failed to prove itself musically
has never quite caught on in the USA
Jean making a name for himself and SZA stealing it
a pretty solid starter kit
the song of the summer that wasn’t one
Sinatra remained his aloof, superstar self
my list syncs up pretty well with the 1979 Village Voice Pazz and Jop
a special collection