At 26 years old, Taylor Swift has been on the music scene since 2006, when she first dropped her debut album, Taylor Swift. Since then, the country singer has become one of the richest women in the business, with an estimated net worth of $250 million. In the past decade, Taylor Swift has dominated and marked the pop music charts, releasing numerous #1 hit singles and successfully recording and releasing five albums to date. And yet, as This is Our Song by Tyler Conroy claims, “after all these years, there is no great, comprehensive book about Swift for her fans.” Until now.
Because this month, This is Our Song ($17.65 in Hardback, $14.65 in Kindle) has been published by Simon & Schuster, with the sole aim of providing fans with the perfect coffee-table book to guide “Swifties” through the remarkable years and achievements of this young woman. The release date in the UK was Monday of this week; the 24th of October. The release date in the USA was slightly earlier, arriving on shelves October 11th.
So why now? And is it really worth the hype?
This is Our Song is composed of three parts: “The Early Years,” “The Crossover,” and “1989 And Beyond” The 273 pages are a compilation of reviews, fan experiences, quotations from Swift, crosswords and doodles based on lyrics, pictures from concerts, and selfies and drawings of her iconic country hair style. Along with relatable fan accounts, the book also features articles from reviewers and journalists.
I think the timing of this book is rather essential to Swift, if she is watching the sales, or aware of this book. Tyler Conroy, a Swiftie himself, has done her a massive promotional favor. As the book clarifies, Swift is often described as calculating, a trait which she resents. “She really, really hates the word calculating” Chuck Klosterman reported in GQ in 2015, which I think is a fair word to hate. In a practical sense, how on Earth can one stay successfully in the music industry for a whole decade without having a business plan? Or being aware of competition? After recent controversy with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, specifically Swift’s debatable approval of West’s infamous Famous lyrics;
“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous”
Tyler Conroy reminds fans just who Taylor Swift is, where she came from, and why fans should still continue to support her. This Is Our Song references the track Our Song from Swift’s debut album Taylor Swift. I believe that detail is there to remind people of her roots; the story of a twelve year old girl penning her first album, one of many successful ones she had yet to write. Who can hate that?
If Taylor Swift has proven anything, it’s that, whether you view her as calculating or like a relatable friend, she has the ability to reinvent herself. Despite being notorious for writing about exes, it’s the other songs which stand out to me, which tells me that perhaps she had to change her sound to suit her evolution as a young woman. In Taylor Swift, she sings:
“I don’t know what I want/ so don’t ask me/ ’cause I’m still trying to figure it out/don’t know what’s down this road/ I’m just walking.”
Not very calculating to me, but relatable in the way that all of us, particularly when we’re young, have no idea what career path to follow, what advice to listen to or what decisions to make. This Is Our Song by Tyler Conroy includes a picture of a young Taylor Swift, with straight hair, lounging on a truck with her guitar and worn out jeans. I, personally, became wistful during those country years, reminiscing of how a younger version of myself would listen to her sing in the car on family holidays in Florida. In Fearless, Swift’s second studio album, the track, The Best Day depicts childhood memories and a deep love for her family:
“It’s the age of princesses and pirate ships/ and the seven dwarfs/ Daddy’s smart/ and you’re the prettiest lady in the whole wide world.”
A reflective time period for Swift as she leaves behind, arguably, her last country album.
“Wasn’t it easier in your lunchbox days?/ Always a bigger bed to crawl into/ Wasn’t it beautiful when you believed in everything?/ And everyone believed in you?”
When Swift reached Red, I think most Swift fans had come to terms with the fact that she was truly turning into an international pop-star as opposed to a country singer-songwriter. You might recall hit singles such as I Knew Your Were Trouble, 22 and We Are Never Getting Back Together. Still, the woman she was evolving into is there in the lyrics of other songs, such as The Lucky One, which documents her wrestle with fame quite openly:
“And it took some time/ but I understand it now/ because now my name is up in lights/ but I think you got it right/ let me tell you now/ you’re the lucky one.”
When Swift’s latest album, 1989 was released, she described it as her“first documented official pop album.” The album sold 9.5 million copies worldwide. Such popular songs such as Shake It Off and Bad Blood were made famous from this album.
But like Tyler Conroy, I see Swift as an individual, as someone who learns and grows and adapts. Staring at the tracklist, I was looking for the song about her, which this time was about losing someone- probably an ex, yes- but about finding herself;
“When I was drowning/ that’s when I could finally breathe/ and by morning gone was any trace of you/ I think I am finally clean.”
I think this book by Tyler Conroy highlights her evolution into not just a different music genre but a different person. A woman not a girl.
All that being said, I would not buy this book. I would perhaps put it on a Christmas list or gratefully accept it as a gift, but the price is too steep ($17.65 in Hardback, $14.65 in Kindle, no paperback version available) for something I need no reminders about. Taylor Swift is a successful young woman, who has evolved throughout her career. I think I would fangirl over the glossy pictures and enjoy the crosswords but I might resent paying for other fan selfies or facts I already know. I don’t need a book to tell me Taylor Swift has evolved her music style in the last decade. That’s what her music is for, isn’t it?
Although, it might look adorable on a coffee table or a morning dresser, I think this book is more for those who are extreme fans. This Is Our Song seems to be just their song, and perhaps, metaphorically, I only know a few words to it.
What about you, would you buy into the hype?
YouTube Channel: Vogue
Featured image via ET Online
h/t The New Yorker