This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #225: Love Story by Taylor Swift.
***Every 25th song in this countdown goes to one of my girls and so, today, we have Song #5 on Leah’s personal Top Ten list, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift.
Whenever it is time for a song chosen by Leah or Sophie, I always conduct a short interview with them about why they chose the song they did and what is so special about it to them. With “Love Story”, Leah had lots to say. As has been the case with many of the girl’s selections, Leah’s first reason for finding “Love Story” so memorable dates back to a shared memory of singing the song with friends.
In this case, we were very lucky to have the girls spend their pre-school years in the care of the world’s finest daycare lady, Jackie Currie. *(Jackie writes an award-winning blog called, “Happy Hooligans” about her daycare experiences, philosophies and much more). Anyway, many of our daughter’s first milestone moments happened while at Jackie’s. She was always very good to share the events of the day with us, in person or via email so, Keri and I started looking forward to pick-up time so we could see how our children had grown that day and what wonderful things they had been up to. One of those pick-up time conversations revealed that the girls had learned a new song that Jackie had played on CD or the radio. That song was “Love Story” by Taylor Swift. In Leah’s memory, she recalls singing the song with the other daycare children and how grown up they all felt to be singing a “real” song from the radio, as opposed to a “Kid’s” song based on nursery rhymes.
When Taylor Swift released “Love Story”, it was from her second album, “Fearless”. She was considered a Country singer at this stage of her career. But, ever the clever business woman, Taylor Swift already had a career path planned out in her head and, as such, she wasn’t about to release a series of Country songs and find herself pigeon-holed in a limited category known as Country. She wanted to broaden her appeal and specifically planned on crossing over genres and becoming more of a Pop star. So, although “Love Story” won awards as a Country Song, it was always intended to test the waters in the world of Pop and, consequently, it can be pointed to as the moment the Taylor Swift brand started growing into the international juggernaut it is today.
“Love Story” is based on a real event from Swift’s life. We all know of many teen romances that were frowned upon by parents, to which the teens involved responded with incredulity stating that the parents “just didn’t get it!”. Teen love is felt as real love and the emotions run very high when it all starts and again, in the reverse direction, when it all ends. Taylor Swift wrote about her teen romance as if it were Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The one exception was that Swift gave her characters a happy ending, as opposed to Shakespeare’s suicide pact. Leah is a teen who hopes to find love one day and I am sure she wonders how Keri and I will react when the day comes that she brings that certain someone home for us to meet. So, in that regard, I think that Leah’s “teen female” reaction to Swift’s storytelling meshes well and, when extrapolated out across the teen girl universe, shows how well Swift’s narrative was able to connect with the lives and ambitions of girls around the world. Taylor Swift is nothing, if not, superbly clever when it comes to knowing her audience and how to connect with them.
And Leah, of course, being Leah, loves books and has studied the real “Romeo and Juliet” in school. She has strong opinions about the story, as well as, the modern movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes (She doesn’t like it)….although that movie is another movie that has an outstanding soundtrack! Anyway, I digress again. One of the additional appeals to this song for Leah is that it is a song that tells a story. Like her old man, Leah likes story-songs, too. “Love Story” by Taylor Swift contains a complete story arc that describes how she and her beau met, what the reaction was by her parents and, in the end, how it all turned out. As mentioned earlier, the fact that Swift gave her listeners a happy ending helps to make “Love Story” a lot easier for young girls to digest. One doesn’t become a Pop Princess by feeding her fans epic tragedy, does one?
When “Love Story” was first released, it won multiple awards and sold tens of millions of copies, making it one of the most successful singles of all-time, at the time. However, a funny thing happened to Taylor Swift on the way to fame and fortune. It was a business-related event that, initially, didn’t involve her but which, in the end, proved that Taylor Swift is nobody’s fool and is much tougher and more shrewd than most people thought. The event in question was that the company that owned the copyright on all of her early albums was sold to a man named Scooter Braun who, at one time, was Swift’s manager. A legal battle erupted as Swift sought to gain control over her music…..which included the song, “Love Story”. Swift fought hard but, eventually, lost her case. But, she is nothing, if not clever, as I have mentioned. So, instead of giving up the fight, she fought back by re-recording all of her early albums….changing one small thing here, another small thing there about each song thus, making them “new” versions, of which she owns the exclusive rights. Then, she went one step further and advised her fans that, from now on, she wanted them to only download/purchase versions of her early songs that contained the label, “Taylor’s version” thus, feezing her old manager out of the market, leaving him with a collection of songs that no one was going to buy anymore; effectively, making his collection worthless. So, Scooter Braun may have won the court battle but, it appears that Taylor Swift may end up winning the war. To have a female role model stand up to men in the industry and to not back down sends a terrific message forward toward all young women growing up. I know Leah well enough to know that Swift’s moxie resonates with her and that it endears “Love Story” to her all the more.
So, to all of you who, as teens, fell in love and felt tragically misunderstood by the adults in your life at the time, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift is for you. Thank you, Leah, for giving us another inspired song choice. Without further delay, here is one of today’s most successful and influential musical artists, Taylor Swift and the song that really brought her into the public eye, “Love Story”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Taylor Swift, can be found here.