Tag Archives: music

Happy Birthday 1989! or how Taylor Swift sort of changed my life in a weird way

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This is the story of how Taylor Swift changed my life, which is a sentence that sounds super dramatic and ridiculous and I am fully aware of that.

So, my friends all know that 1989 was a really important album to me, but I don’t know if I’ve ever explained why. I genuinely have no idea who cares about this, but here we go.

I’ve spent basically my entire life making what should be choices of personal preference based on everything other than personal preference. Yes, yes, even after writing my post railing against judgey music hipsters, I still made choices based on things other than what I actually liked. This controlled every part of my life: instead of basing food choices on what I enjoyed, I chose food based on carb content or “clean”-ness or because eating candy for breakfast has somehow morphed from maybe-not-the-greatest-idea to totally-endearing-and-relatable due to Instagram or whatever; I chose clothing based either on my horrendous body image and need to feel small or on the styles of my friends because I prefer neutrals and neutrals are boring or something (or — as in high school — I chose clothing based on both what would make me feel small and on its Quirkiness Level. I mean…I routinely wore my brother’s camo cargo shorts with a Sesame Street t-shirt. I do not suggest this method of choosing a personal style.); I tried to shift my personality around in order to please friends (who absolutely did not require this of me) and whatever crush I had at the time (who probably thought I was being weird as a result of this) because I am loud and opinionated and decidedly not cute or delicate in the way I wanted to be (there’s a reason Sarah Jaffe’s “Clementine” used to make me cry all the time).

Anyway, I spent a lot of time not enjoying things I actually enjoyed because I needed to put a certain personality that I’d deemed as the Ideal Chelsea out there. Even when I allowed myself to enjoy things that didn’t meet my standards, I did it in secret and rarely admitted to liking certain things to friends (with a sense of shame every single time). This was freaking exhausting because I held myself to impossibly high and incredibly weird standards.

Included in my weird standards was the idea that I couldn’t like Top 40 music because I had to be quirky and unique and exude Natalie Portman’s character from Garden State 24/7. This was a constant, ridiculous mental battle because I legitimately love “Raise Your Glass” by Pink, which basically voids any attempts I may have made to avoid Top 40 music. I also judged other people hardcore if they liked things that were considered popular. In fact, despite the fact that I admitted my love for every Taylor Swift song I’d heard to that point in the 2012 blog post I mentioned above, I continued to both judge Swifties and feel a little ashamed of myself for liking her music.

Looking back I realize that Taylor’s music has seen me through a lot. Not in a she’s-what-gave-me-hope way, but just in a she-gave-me-something-to-smile-about-during-a-rough-patch way. I fell in love with a mash-up of “Love Story” and “Viva la Vida” back during my crazy/detrimental Bible school experience; when I was absolutely miserable in college back in 2011, one of the few things I looked forward to every school day was hearing “Mine” on the radio while I was driving; and, I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that “We Are Never Getting Back Together” and “Trouble” were both released as singles at an extremely convenient time.

Fast forward to fall of 2014. I’d just had just taken a three-month ride on the Eating Disorder Relapse Express and was finally buckling down on eating carbs again. I was super self-conscious because I’d gained weight as a result. I was terrified of liking food lest I would lose control somehow and dedicate my entire life to eating pie. I was borderline suicidal due to a lot of issues, and was depressed to the point of not being excited about anything (one of my favorite ways of describing my state of mind was: “I would react the exact same way emotionally to someone throwing me a surprise party and someone impaling my foot with a nail gun” or something to that effect).

I was still trying to hold myself together by not allowing myself to like things that didn’t fit the personality ideal I’d created for myself, which, once again, is exhausting and has an ROI of negative a million.

I was really active in the eating disorder recovery community on Tumblr at this time and happened to start following a college student named Sarah who’d written a poem that I really like. Sarah also happens to be, in my personal estimation, the World’s Biggest Taylor Swift fan. By following her blog, I was inundated with Taylor gifs and videos and news every single day. I began to see posts about how Taylor treated her fans and about her music and marketing. I was impressed in a way I hadn’t expected to be.

The night before 1989 was released, I heard several of the songs via Sarah’s blog and sort of fell in love, particularly with “Clean”. I knew that I wanted to buy the album, but I felt legitimately conflicted, like I was going to somehow lose some (incredibly silly and judgmental) part of myself by admitting defeat and actually paying for an entire Taylor Swift album.

Despite all of that, the next day (one year ago on this very date) I went to Target on my lunch break (I needed the physical album because I obviously needed the Polaroids duh), feeling incredibly silly, and bought the CD. I put it in my car’s CD player and it didn’t leave its spot there for about three months.

I remember feeling so goofy and — for the first time in a long while — genuinely excited about something. Even though it was something small. Even though I’d broken a thousand of my personal rules (Don’t Like Mainstream Music, Don’t Jump on a Bandwagon Late in the Game, etc.). It felt like this insanely huge victory because I’d made a choice based on what I liked rather than on what that Ideal Chelsea that I carried with me everywhere would like. I actually remember telling my counselor about it because it seemed like such a huge accomplishment at the time.

Anyway, since then, I’ve become an unapologetic fan of Taylor. I saw her perform in Arlington, Texas a few weeks ago and danced and sang and yelled and had a grand ol’ time. I’ve become comfortable with a lot of what I enjoy (in recent months, I’ve come to terms with the facts that I love cream gravy, taking selfies, and running despite previous judgey-judgerson thoughts I’d previously had about those who enjoy such things). I’ve really started to allow myself to enjoy the things I enjoy with no weird, self-imposed shame involved.

I’m not foolish; I know Taylor Swift didn’t solve my problems. I know that a lot of growth has been a result of the Lord placing a good counselor and pastor and great friends in my life who’ve all helped me get through my depression. I know that being on a mood stabilizer has helped me tremendously. But, the way I see it, 1989 was a bit of a turning point for me. I was finally letting myself like things based on my personal preferences rather than rules, and that’s kind of important.

Anyway, that’s my apparently very long story that took an entire lunch break to write.

Happy birthday, 1989! I have so enjoyed your existence for the past year! And I feel incredibly silly writing to an inanimate object but whatever!


Oh, Delilah

I work in a room by myself, and therefore am the sole controller of the radio.  I like to listen to something while I work.  On the weekends, I look forward to listening to NPR all day, but during the week, I sometimes tire of the news stories.  My usual go-to for a music station is the local public music station, KXT.  However, for some reason around 6 or 7 at night, it’s really difficult and complicated to get KXT to come in on the radio I have access to, so I usually resort to some sort of top-40 station.

Last night, I was listening to KVIL (Lite FM), which features the syndicated program Delilah at night. I love Delilah.  I really do. I know she can be a tad cheesy at times, but she seems really sweet.

Last night, she said something to the effect of, “If you can’t get through to request a song for the one you love, pick out a song that I play, call that person and tell them, ‘Go listen to the song Delilah’s playing right now. That’s the song that makes me think of you.’ I know it’s not the same, but it’s still a way to connect.”

I started to think: What if someone did this with really weird things? Like, “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats or the This American Life episode where they redacted “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory”.  I kind of want to do this to someone…find a station that’s playing “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof or an episode of the old radio suspense show The Whistler and call up a friend and just say, “Please turn it to *insert station here*. This is what I think of you.” And then hang up.  And never speak of it again.


Dear Creators of Music Videos During the 1980s

Dear Creators of Music Videos During the 1980s,

I realize that the ’80s were an interesting time in both the fashion and music arenas. Many, many mistakes were made during the ’80s, the least disconcerting of which involve tight rolled jeans and Punky Brewster.  However, even considering the times, I do not understand how certain music videos escaped the padded walls of the cells in which their creators were enclosed.

Seriously, why were the horrors that are the above videos unleashed on the public? Why were they recorded so that generations to come would be terrorized by Bonnie Tyler and those ninjas, disturbed by AG church flags waving around the sassy pirate from Dead or Alive, or just plain confused by Men Without Hats and their spontaneous Ren Fair?

With my limited understanding of how the recording industry works, I have to assume that multiple people were involved in the creation of these videos.  Of course, I’m sure there was that one guy who kept insisting that the idea was inspired, but someone had to agree with him and bolster his arguments.  Someone supported his vision, and after that, mob rule took over in whatever meeting was occurring and the bad ideas just kept flowing.  To you, someone, I have the following to say: Control. Yourself. Next. Time.

Seriously.  We, as a society, don’t need any more nightmares.

Sincerely,

Chelsea

P. S. Yes, I understand that there is a place in the world for artistic expression.  But, none of these videos make a statement; none of them have any meaning; they are just excursions into the bizarre and excruciating world of their creators’ brains.


Dear Music Hipsters

Dear Music Hipsters,

For years I have pretended to be one of you.  While I haven’t been the type to seek out new music often, I have been inclined to reject popular songs outright in favour of obscure songs sung by bearded, flanneled, guitar-weilding artists in order to appear as if I have a refined taste in music.  Any songs that I am partial to that have ever been played on a Top 40 radio station, I have usually quarantined to the section of my favorite music entitled Guilty Pleasure Songs.  But, no more.

You see, lately, I’ve noticed that my Guilty Pleasure Songs lists is getting longer.  It now has one musical artist’s entire career on it.  Frankly, it’s getting out of control, and recently I realized that it’s because I’m embarrassed to admit that I like certain songs/artists/genres.  This all stems from my life-long desire to be a woman of refined tastes, a woman whose interests include reading classic literature, who knows the difference between classical and baroque music and who has an opinion on which is superior, who routinely chooses Wagner over the Wallflowers, who others consider an intellectualist.

We all have to come to terms with the truth at some point.  As none of the above things apply to me, I suppose it’s best to admit it sooner rather than later.

So, dear Music Hipsters, I’m here to admit a few things about my music tastes.  While I enjoy Mumford and Sons, Slow Club and Florence in the Machine, I also enjoy songs by R.E.M., Duran Duran and Billy Joel.  My most listened to album is Bringing Down the Horse by The Wallflowers.  I have never heard a Taylor Swift song that I haven’t liked.  In fact, “Love Story” made me cry once.  I will unironically listen to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler (though, all music-video-watching is surely ironic for that song).  There is a song called “Simple and Clean” that I discovered (and subsequently loved) because it is played at the end of one my favorite video games.  I enjoy the occasional Pat Benatar hit.  I have listened to U2 for the majority of my life, I don’t dislike Alanis Morisette’s voice and I find “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion to be a vocal triumph that few can mirror.  The Fray, The Backstreet Boys and The Cranberries have all released songs that I thoroughly enjoy.  And, while I prefer Fleetwood Mac’s version of “Landslide”, I will admit that I was at one time in the past six years borderline obsessed with the Dixie Chick’s “Traveling Soldier”.  I even like some songs by P!nk.  There, I admitted it.

It feels good to get that off of my chest after all these years.  I do enjoy the deeper, more intellectual music available.  However, I’m tired of pretending as if I don’t enjoy listening to the shallow, ridiculous stuff too.

Hope you’re all still okay with being friends with me.

Sincerely,

Chelsea


Dear Adam Young

Dear Adam Young,

I first heard your song “Fireflies” afterhours at work while I was helping restock shelves. Upon first listen, I just assumed that this song was a new Postal Service song and moved on with my life. But, then, the song kept being played…over…and over…and over again. My interest piqued, I searched for the song on the internet and found out that it was actually written and played by none other than Owl City, the name you have plastered on your music project. I initially took a neutral stance on your songs. However, that changed very, very quickly.

My first indication that there was something amiss is a fact found in the very song, “Fireflies.”

I’d get a thousand hugs

From ten thousand lightning bugs

Now, bugs don’t seem to be picky creatures. Most of them live in the dirt. Some live in fecal matter. So, why do nine out of ten bugs reject you hugs? What could possibly be wrong with you?

I soon discovered that what was wrong with you was the way in which you write songs. Your lyrics make an over-reaching attempt to sound deep, but when pressed, they really make no sense. You tie your handlebars to the stars? Really? And, what are you trying to express by making the absurd statement that “every mushroom cloud has a silver lining”?

All things considered, I have come to the following conclusion: Either you are a genius who is so clever that he’s actually a parody of himself or you are just a very, very poor lyricist.  As much as my heart wishes it were the former, I’m inclined to believe that it is, in fact, the latter.

After all, wouldn’t the lightning bugs want to hug a genius?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my conclusions.  Until then, please cease and desist writing songs of any sort.  Unless you really are just a parody of yourself.  In that case, carry on.

Sincerely,

Chelsea


Dear Car CD Player

Dear Car CD Player,

You are old and currently located in a 1998 Plymouth Neon named Mayflower. I can understand why you would be cranky with your position in life. I also understand that, being old, you cannot read or play CD mixes that have been burned from a computer. You probably just have problems with newer technology, so I will cut you some slack on that topic.

What I don’t understand is why you are so picky about the original CDs you choose to play. Is the soundtrack from the motion picture Once just not good enough for you? Is there a reason you will play Bringing Down the Horse by the Wallflowers only when it’s warm outside? Why, oh why, will you play the soundtracks from both the musicals Cinderella and The Sound of Music, but you’ll only periodically allow The Village musical score to play?

I don’t understand your reasoning, Car CD Player. I wish you would at least be picky in a logical way. Perhaps you could reject all CDs with blue album covers or any music that contains a cow bell. Then I can at least buy CDs with confidence, knowing that you will play them. Right now, it’s just a giant game to which only you know the rules.

Please enlighten me to your reasoning for rejecting my music. I’m not offended that you hate it; I just want to know what you hate so I can make decisions in the future.

Sincerely,
Chelsea


Dear Florence Welch

Dear Florence Welch,

I just want to commend you on your ability to belt out songs in ranges rarely found in…well, anywhere. I thoroughly enjoy many of your songs and am forever baffled by how such a strong, large voice can come out of such a tiny person.

Thank you for sharing your gift with us all.

Sincerely,
Chelsea