My daughter was invited to spend an evening with Taylor Swift at her house, and I was allowed to tag along (actually I was required as my daughter is only 15 years old and she had to have an adult with her). How did this happen? My daughter runs a tumblr blog with two of her best friends, and over the last year it has evolved into a blog mostly about Taylor Swift. They don’t have a huge following… in fact, it is quite small compared to many other blogs.
To make a longer story shorter, Taylor was searching (“stalking” in her words) the internets for dedicated fans. She found many, of course. But it appears that she was looking for those fans who were also kind and caring souls. That she did, indeed, find on their blog. She also said to my daughter: “you all are so funny and cute!” The three girls do mix humor and even a bit of psychological counselling into their posts. They are always positive to the other fans; you can tell that they really enjoy the conversations.
So, Taylor picked them from the oceans of fans on twitter, tumblr, instagram, and the www. We got a call last Thursday evening asking details about our daughter. It was very secretive, and lacking in details. As one of the other parents asked, “is this a front for a human trafficking scheme?” We were to be in Rhode Island in a parking lot between 4 and 4:30pm on Saturday. Weird! But we were in. We’d just have to risk it that it wasn’t human trafficking… a risk that my daughter was willing to take.
We left the next day, and had a relaxed brunch on Saturday morning. I was hoping to keep the stress level down on my daughter (“I hope I don’t throw-up on Taylor!” she was thinking all day). We arrived in the parking lot as instructed. After a two-hour wait, I started to think that maybe this was an elaborate hoax. But, no, we were soon after scanned for electronic recording equipment, and all of our personal items were collected. We were then shuttled over to Taylor’s home. As we entered, music was playing through the house (the house seemed to be carefully engineered for sound). But this wasn’t my daughter’s music playing… it was the Kingston Trio singing “Tom Dooley”… this was music I grew up to. Apparently, Taylor has eclectic tastes.
We had a nice finger-food dinner, although my daughter didn’t eat much—still worrying about projectile food flowing onto Taylor’s stylish shoes. Turns out that I was the only male/father of all of the chaperons. Interesting, but I was made to feel at home. Soon, Taylor came down to where we were, and played her complete unreleased album (it will be released later this month) to about 80 girls and young women (and their chaperons) who were crammed into her living room. Between each song, she provided details about how she wrote the songs—detailing motivations and process.
Both of Taylor’s parents were there, and freely spoke informally to everybody. (One young woman was mortified when her mother asked Taylor’s father: “which daughter is yours?”… all of the fans recognize Taylor’s entire entourage.) Yes, of course, Taylor’s parents are proud parents. But this child of their’s was no ordinary child.
Throughout the evening, it became very clear that Ms. Swift is not only a talented singer, song-writer, and performer, but she is really a genius. I don’t say that lightly, but she really is a brilliant mind. Combined with her hard-working work ethic and her kindness, it is not at all surprising that she is successful. But she is also a philosopher. She is intense, and focused, and considers lines of thought that often go against conventional wisdom. She was very willing to share her ideas with these young women in an honest, thoughtful conversation.
I have been very lucky in my life and work to be surrounded by strong, intelligent women; I am very proud of my daughter for her funny, caring posts on her Taylor Swift blog that she works so hard on. And I very much appreciate the care and thought given by Ms. Swift to help create another generation of strong, intelligent women.