Shelby Says… Lyrical musings

Like many people, I have been spending the last week listening to the new Taylor Swift album.
Now, let me say, I’ve never been a hard-core fan of Taylor Swift. I’m a huge fan of words (surprising absolutely no one), music and art. But being that I was 11 when her first album came out, her music is what I grew up listening to and still actively listen to.
I do like her music, in every era of sound she’s had. I’m a fan of most music genres. Country, rock, pop, alternative, showtunes, I’m up for pretty much any kind of music as long as I like the words in the songs.
And like I said, I’m a fan of words. I enjoy literary analysis, have been known to read Shakespeare for fun, and my favorite poems are by Edgar Allan Poe. So when Taylor Swift announced her new album, “The Tortured Poet’s Department,” I was excited for it. Artsy lyrics are some of my favorite because there’s plenty to analyze and think about.
For instance, another of my favorite artists is Kenny Chesney, and during the COVID-19 lockdowns, I made a small collage of painting with some of my favorite lyrics he’s written to hang up in our guest room. I like songs that make you think.
And since music is pretty much the only thing going through my head at the moment, I thought I’d provide an analysis for some of my favorite lyrics from “The Tortured Poets Department.”
As a disclaimer, I believe art is subjective. My interpretation may be different from yours, and that’s fine. Listen to music that you enjoy.
“Now and then I reread the manuscript, but the story isn’t mine anymore.”
This is the last line of the last song, “The Manuscript” of the anthology edition of the album, which is 31 songs. And I think part of why I was drawn to this song so much and these last lines is that it alludes to the fact that people change.
When you look back on your own life, it may be difficult to recognize your younger self because you may think differently and make different decisions. In this song, she tells the story of love and loss when she was younger, and with the addition of hindsight, she says that her past self is a different person than she is now. I think that acknowledging that change in life can be very healing when it comes to processing your past.
“Forgive me, Peter, please know that I tried, to hold onto the days when you were mine, but the woman who sits by the window, has turned out the light.”
I love when people reference other literature, and “Peter” references “Peter Pan” by J. M. Barrie. Peter Pan is a young boy who never grows up and spends his eternal childhood in Neverland as the leader of the Lost Boys.
In this case, the song uses Peter Pan to talk about broken promises and growing apart. Peter Pan never grows up, but everyone else does. As life goes on, people grow and change, and sometimes they grow apart.
Think of friends you had at one point but no longer do. Not because of fights or anything, but just because you grew into different people. You always have the younger version of them in your life, they may be part of your past, but aren’t currently part of your life. And that’s fine, people grow and change.
I think using Peter Pan as a metaphor for youth has always been one of my favorite comparisons.
“Too high a horse, for a simple girl to rise above it, they slammed the door on my whole world, the one thing I wanted.”
I have to say this is probably my favorite song on the album for a few reason. “But Daddy I love him” is not only a good song, but a reference to one of my favorite Disney Princess movies, “The Little Mermaid.” In it, when King Triton is berating Ariel for interacting with Prince Eric, she shouts at him, “but Daddy I love him!”
But these lyrics and that reference made me stop and think. I think we’ve all watched people we love maybe date the wrong person or pursue a project they shouldn’t. But that’s not how your heart works.
When my husband and I were younger, we broke up for a year or so. We stayed friends in that time, each working through college and spending some time being single. It was probably one of the best things for us individually as it allowed us to grow and mature into individual adults. But when we talked about dating again, I had people telling me it was a bad idea. And sometimes it is a bad idea.
But I wanted to. Even though I knew it could be a bad idea to date an ex-boyfriend, I knew I wanted to try anyway despite people trying to warn me. I’ve said about other friends that sometimes they need to make their own mistakes, and at that time I was the friend making my own mistake.
It wasn’t a mistake, and that was nearly ten years ago and we’re happy together. And I’m glad I listened to my heart instead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *