Taylor Swift Is a Time-Traveling Genius: 1989 Is “Other Side” of Gold by Ryan Adams

September 29, 2015

I’ve been a Ryan Adams fan for 15 years now, so I understood what he was up to when he recorded Taylor Swift’s 1989.

Two things to know, #1 – he’s clearly the “impulsive” brain type (I presume). Likely to be either obsessed with something or not care at all. #2 – His whole life (again I presume) is music. So when he’s done with a tour or recording, he’s gotta decompress. That means he listens to other artists’ albums. When one really moves him, he becomes obsessed with it. He breaks down the song himself, plays it, does it his own way so he can fully understand the song itself.  Everyone freaking out over him recording 1989? Chill out. He did it just for him and if you like it great.

Now, I’d heard OF Taylor Swift, but did not really know anything she did except the unavoidable Shake It Off. I thought she was some American Idol type person who sings pop songs for girls, written and produced by someone else. When I heard Adams discuss 1989 on a podcast, I thought “Oh, Swift is legit? I should definitely check her out.”

Surrounded by 22-year olds at work, it was easy to track down someone with 1989 (literally eight feet from my desk). So for a full week, I’ve been listening to both 1989s in a zipper format, Swift then Adams, track by track. A lot. I understand why Adams was obsessed with it. It’s amazing. After the second track (which resonated just as “Come Pick Me Up” made me an Adams fan), I actually yelled from my office “Why didn’t someone tell me Taylor Swift was F’ing Incredible?”  (someone called back “How could you not know? She’s won Grammy’s!”  So, Milli Vanilli won Grammy’s! I replied).

But today, it hit me. I’ve been listening to Swift’s 1989 all wrong. Alternating Swift and Ryan Adams is a great idea. I’d just been using the wrong Adams album. Swift’s 1989 is actually the companion piece to Ryan Adams’ Gold (from 2001). They are telling two sides of the same story. 15 years apart (and obviously it must be a fiction story because she was like nine when Adams wrote Gold).

But my strange brain can create a narrative of how the night they met went down which turns both albums into a cohesive “he said/she said” piece that fits together. You know, assuming Taylor Swift has mastered not only song writing but manipulating time and space to align her life’s timeline with that of Ryan Adams’ life timeline.  Here we go….

Welcome To New York: This happened right after I got to New York…
New York, New York: This is why I just left New York…
This odd coincidence of New York tracks opening the two records is what sparked the very notion in my head. I thought: The way I feel ‘discovering’ this Swift album is the way I felt about Gold. I can’t get enough of it and every second I’m not listening to it feels like an opportunity lost. (pause) Weird how they both start with tracks about New York (DING!).

They meet at a bar one night, neither is looking for something serious (details later)
Firecracker: “Maybe be your baby tonight”
Blank Space: “You look like my next mistake”

It was supposed to be a one-night thing, but they keep crossing paths. She really likes him, but he’s trying to be casual (and sees other girls). But when they do see each other, they’re like Penny Lane and Russell in Almost Famous. He realizes he’s fallen for her.
Answering Bell: “Did I trip? Cause I know I fell.”
Style: “baby what you heard is true, but I keep coming back to you” & “we come back every time”

They dated, but the relationship doesn’t work. She wondered if they could get through their problems. He decided she was too immature. They ended it.
Out of the Woods: (Pretty overt. Clearly they weren’t out of the woods)
La Cienega Just Smiled: “How’d I end up feeling so bad / For such a little girl”

They talk about getting back together, but fight about it. She blames him, he says quit playing the victim.
All You Had To Do Was Stay: (again, really overt)
Rescue Blues: “Everybody knows you need the pain so much, lady. Well, keep in touch, baby. Just don’t charge me with your rescue blues”

They still cross paths. She goes to a club, he’s there with some girl. He wants to talk to her because he’d rather be with her. But she is in full rebound mode, ignores him and spends all her time on the dance floor. Even chases some other guys in front of him.
Somehow, Someday: “I wish we were still making plans but now there’s nothing to fix”
Shake It Off:HEARTBREAKER’S gonnna break…. But I’m just gonna shake… “
What else would she call him in a song but the name of his previous solo album?

No longer running into each other, they get nostalgic, and miss each other
I Wish You Would: (Not very subtle, this Taylor Swift) “I wish you would come back”
When The Stars Go Blue: “Where do you go when you’re lonely? Where do you go when you’re blue”

Bad Blood: Swifty remains blatant with her lyrics.
Nobody Girl: And now it’s Adams’ turn to be blunt.

She’s had a few hits and is famous now. So he calls her to congratulate her and she’s dismissive. She feels he should have chased her to win her back after he saw her at the club back in Shake It Off.  So in her mind, there’s Bad Blood between them.
He lashes out with Nobody Girl, a diss track which in hindsight sounds like the some of the direct criticisms that prompted Shake It Off. (“When the emptiness finds you, you find all the numbers you need / You say follow your heart, honey you’re just being lost”).   He knew her before she got famous, so to him, she’s still a nobody.

It also includes including the lines “she shatters like broken glass” and “Have you been screening your smokes?” and “whispers in an all night bar.” Which mean nothing to you right now. But check this out, here’s where it all ties together:

They both go on some first dates other people, but spend the whole time remembering each other.
Wildest Dreams: “nice dress, staring at the sun set, red lips and rosy cheeks.”
Slyvia Plathe: “Cigarette ashes in her drink” and “Maybe she’d take me to France… She’d ash on the carpets…”

These songs are call backs to Firecracker/Blank Space. All four tracks are about that first night together. Track 2 as it happens, Track 9 looking back (Nobody Girl and Clean reference it as well)

The full narrative goes like this:
Young Taylor Swift (red lips, rosy cheeks, nice dress) sees Ryan Adams (James Dean bad boy) across the bar. She just read about him in Rolling Stone, after releasing Heartbreaker (Blank Space: “New money, I can read you like a Magazine” Shake it Off: “Heartbreakers gonna  break”).

She bums a cigarette just to talk to the “bad boy rock star” but she’s not a smoker, she just needed the icebreaker. So she’s faking it and her ashes go everywhere (Sylvia Plathe: “Cigarette Ashes In Her Drink” “She’ll ash on the floor”). She screened his call before Track 8 prompting Nobody Girl, so the line “Have you been screening your smokes?”makes sense now.

She’s a wannabe singer songwriter, he says sing one of your songs. She chokes and can’t. (Firecracker: “Broken Bluesy whisper, sing to me tonight”; Nobody Girl: “A whisper in an all night bar”). Because he’s a bad boy, he’s not supportive. Real music comes from pain, and she’s had none yet he explains as she’s had no life experience!

So she says “well let’s go on an adventure! Let’s get on a plane and go to Paris!” (Blank Space: “Grab your passport and my hand” and “Cherry lips, Crystal Skies”) where they can watch the sunset (Wildest Dreams). He thinks that’s a terrible idea. (Firecracker: “So when does the plane go down… I just wanna be your baby TONIGHT”).

But instead just end up at her place. She’s a little tipsy and drops the wine bottle as she’s pouring, breaking the wine glass and the bottle and soaking her dress. (Firecracker: “Breaks a glass of wine”; Nobody Girl: “She shatters like broken glass”; Swift will reference the dress was ruined in Clean).

So she immediately removes the dress right in front of him. Awkward split second before they start hooking up and move to the bedroom (Wildest Dreams: “His hands are in my hair, his clothes are in my room.”)

In Wildest Dreams, she’s on a date with someone else, and it sucks. So she’s thinking about that first night from Track 2. Her wildest dream is everything works out instead of the Bad Blood. She also thinks that “his voice is a familiar sound” because he’s released like six albums in six years and Letterman invites him on the show constantly. So she thinks about him, even though she’s on some date. Probably with a terrible dude who’s just some broken fellow celebrity (It should be obvious I have no idea who Swift has dated).

In Sylvia Plathe, he’s dating an older woman but envisioning Swift much later in her career, as if they’ve ended up together. Now that she’s eclipsed his success, instead of her trying to go to Paris that night using HIS Heartbreaker check, Swift is rich so “maybe she’ll take me to France.” She can DRINK now (Gin) instead of getting tipsy at a club and spilling wine, but she still ashes cigarettes any where she damned well pleases, because she’s Taylor freaking Swift.  (I also have no idea who Sylvia Plathe is).

A little hostile at first. But they talk about it. Realize they both wanna try again.
Enemy Planes: “Learn how to change and Maybe I could stay”
How You Get The Girl: (Swifty lays it all out for him, word for word what she’s looking for)

They are seemingly back together after he makes a romantic gesture like she outlined in Track 10.  But the next morning, she notices he now has a drug habit. She wrestles with it for a second or two. It’s a total deal-breaker.
Gonna Make You Love Me More: Here’s the bad boy being a sappy romantic. And with drugs, I’m an even badder boy now than one you fell for! “Moonlight on the Beach, Sweet Amphetamines. Only Gonna Make You Love Me More”
This Love: “This love is good, this love is bad”

She’s momentarily conflicted. But quickly:

I Know Places: She comes under fire in the press cause she’s miss squeaky clean and their relationship would make the papers. Everyone would talk. But she knows places where they could be together: After he’s out of rehab. Go to rehab or lose her because “Love’s a fragile little flame that can burn out.”
Wild Flowers: After dismissing the ultimatum, he goes on a bender. He doesn’t remember what the hell happened because he was so high and ends up getting arrested. I honestly have no idea what Wild Flowers is about. But he did tell a story on Live at Carnegie Hall, how during his “doing a lot of drugs in New York City phase,” he doesn’t remember writing Please Do Not Let Me Go and in hindsight, THAT TRACK would be perfect right here for the fictional narrative.

Also, this ultimatum fight gives both Track 5’s an extra layer. It’s difficult for them to write about the first breakup without mentioning the second.
All You Had To Do Was Stay is about both the first time they broke up, but also had he not run off on the bender we wouldn’t have gotten arrested. The second half of that track sounds way more final than the first half: “But not like this” and “you ended it.” Which he did after the second fight.
Rescue Blues sounds bitterly sarcastic in retrospect, as if he’s combining how she played the victim in the first breakup and her attempt to rescue him here. Again, first half/second half of the song changes,  seemingly as they change fights: The rope gets thrown down to her when she’s in trouble (first fight), and then thrown up to her when she’s acting high and mighty (second fight). But even as she’s acting high and might trying to help him with drugs, he feels she’s still also trying to play the victim at the same time, so he sarcastically sings that everyone wants to get HER high.

TRACK 13 (and beyond): CLOSURE & AFTERMATH
Harder Now That It’s Over: He calls her after/from jail. When he never gets through to her, he realizes it’s completely over. And it’s harder now this time than it was the first time they broke up, “now that the cuffs are off.” The track ends with a ‘your call cannot be completed as dialed, please check the number and try again’ recording.
Clean: Because it was the drugs (She’s CLEAN, he is on drugs) and not anything within her control, she can move on easily. She is able to shed him faster than she shed that dress in front of him, which was ruined, by the way). End of album.

But he’s not done yet. He’s got the aftermath. He visits LA, rebounds with a hooker (Tina Toledo), decides to move to LA (Goodnight Hollywood Blvd “See you sometime”), starts seeing someone who steals pills from the doctor’s office she works in (Rosalie Come And Go). But still has things to work out on bonus tracks, drown his sorrows in booze, and starts to tell his story at the bar (The Bar Is a Beautiful Place), and while he is wistful about the whole thing he decides he has to let her go (Cannonball Days: “Better luck in the next life, cause you’re gonna need it dear”), because she’s still kinda crazy. And he still has residual baggage over it. Love Is Hell, he decides.

So that’s my weird brain weaving the two albums together with a mutual backstory. Playlist it up and see how it works when you listen. It’s completely insane, of course, revisionist history. This isn’t a “theory” that’s “true.” But adopting that insane premise creates quirky connections, and adds a subtext that is just plain fun. You get enjoyable “Ah ha!” moments when you put together the two albums and the crazy fictional backstory. Lines that you didn’t notice before suddenly jump out in a new way:

You’d never consider that Taylor Swift is making a reference to actual drugs in Blank Spaces, but with the the fictional backstory, the line “You can tell me if it’s over if the high was worth the pain” turns into clever foreshadowing on the album, and a very raw, honest and human element in songwriting, when capturing the totally optimistic spirit of the night they met in the song after the relationship had ended was absolutely impossible without some residual resentment creeping in.

Yes, I came out of a six-year blog retirement to tell you that Taylor Swift is genius who can manipulate time and space, out myself as a Swifty, and write a long insane theory that only two people may actually read, and only one of them has actually heard both records.

One Big College Family

June 14, 2013

The last two weeks, I’ve rolled into the office, poured a cup of coffee, checked my email and then about twice a week borrowed the Golf Cart key from my coworker for 15 minutes.

So today, I borrow the key, there’s no golf carts available. My coworker finally asked: “Where have you been going on the golf cart this mornings?”

The student union coffee shop across campus, I explained. “But you drink from your mug every day. You’re not buying coffee!” he replied.

Well, the business office cut down on spending by budgeting our sugar supply: They asked for our number of cups and sugar/splenda/equal packets per day, and multiplied everyone’s total by number of days and budgeted for that amount.

But they failed to account for the fact that I work 7 days a week and not 5. We ran out of sugar three weeks ago and aren’t restocking.

Ever since, I’ve been taking my coffee on the golf cart over to the Student Union coffee shop and using their sugar. I fill my mug and then stuff a few days worth of packets into my pockets.

Since the union is across campus, I’ve literally spent a full two hours this month just getting sugar.

At my salary, that amounts to about $370 of company time wasted. But they saved the cost of (less than) one $2.17 canister of sugar.

How Well Do You Understand Stupid Girl Quizzes?

November 6, 2012

Dear women,

All magazine quizzes about relationships and guys are total crap.

#1 – Guys don’t create those. No man is going to actually spend the time to make a quiz on that topic. Sporce sports trivia? Maybe.
It’s possible they have some input on the quizzes, but I’d imagine female editors would reject their contributions by saying “We can’t tell them that! All the fat girls will kill themselves!”

#2 – clicking StumbleUpon brought me to a page of quizzes with a “How well you understand guys” and “how well do understand girls” quizzes.

I took both.

Now, I understand guys quite a bit. BECAUSE I AM ONE. I’m also very straight and very single. I know nothing about women, even though I’d like to be in a great relationship with an attractive one.

And I scored 74%. On each quiz. Answering honestly.

These results show that these kinds of quizzes are complete crap; you girls are very stupid for allowing me to be single, or both.

I Have Never Wanted Anything More In My Entire Life

March 12, 2012

Nobody likes the bully. The type of person who doesn’t just enjoy winning, but can’t be happy unless they are making everyone else feel like crap while they win? Those are the types of people no one likes. And they’re the types of sports teams I hate.

I’ve always rooted for the underdog. Nothing is more compelling than a David vs Goliath match-up. That’s what made my senior year of college so awesome. NCAA Tournament: tiny St. Bonaventure vs basketball powerhouse Kentucky.

David had Goliath on the ropes, but Goliath forced overtime. Goliath had David on the ropes in overtime, but our underdog incredibly forced double overtime. In double overtime, David’s last rock was just off the mark and Goliath limped into the next round.

It was drama. A roller coaster of emotion for four hours. It was legendary on our tiny campus. And that’s why I didn’t want to go to some big huge school like Kentucky or North Carolina, Texas, LSU or Ohio State. A win by St. Bonaventure would have been incredibly special. And it was just another game for Kentucky.

Every where I’ve gone, Goliath has been around the corner.

At St. Bonaventure, there was Syracuse a few hours away: A basketball power that refused to play us in our arena.

At Dayton, there was Ohio State an hour away: Big, Rich and pompous, demanding to be called THE Ohio State University? (There’s like 25 state universities in Ohio)

Also at Dayton, Cincinnati was an hour south: With a thug reputation, and a ringleader when Dayton’s entire conference left UD behind to join a new league. At Dayton, we hosted the NCAA Tournament, and I’ll never forget what a jerk Roy Williams was and how glad I was George Mason beat North Carolina.

When I was working outside of Austin, there was Texas looming over everyone.

At Tulane, an hour up the river was LSU. Being around LSU fans sums up what I’m talking about nicely.
There’s 12 Division I schools in Louisiana, and two fan bases: Tulane’s and LSU’s. No one roots for Tulane who didn’t go there or work there. I’ve met one guy who roots for LSU and actually went to LSU (Hi, Eric).

I don’t understand people like the non-Eric LSU fans. Think about rooting for one of those big schools. They win most the time, there’s nothing special about it. They’re bigger and richer than everyone else. They’re rooting for Goliath.

I HATE those schools because they have no souls.

**If you think that’s harsh, think of Al Michael’s voice for a second saying: “…3…2…1…Do you believe in Miracles? NO! USSR Crushes the United States Olympic Hockey Team 14-1!” **

St. Bonaventure played Xavier in the A-10 finals today. For the Bonnies, it was win and get into the NCAA Tournament. Lose and you’re watching on TV. Xavier sure isn’t Goliath. They’ve just made it out of our conference to tangle with Goliath a lot more than we have. But still, it’s the type of game we never win. Literally, we’d never won an Atlantic 10 Tournament.

I found myself praying for a mini miracle.

So here we are. 12 years after my alma mater’s David vs Goliath battle with Kentucky. St. Bonaventure pulls of a mini-Cinderella run just to GET to this year’s NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA Bracket comes out and at first I am mad, because the NCAA thinks the Bonnies are an extremely weak David. But if we can beat Xavier in a game we never win, maybe with one good rock we can take down a Goliath.

I pull out my pencil to make my picks, and scan the progression from the line that says 14 St. Bonaventure to the end of the bracket:

Round of 64: 3 seed Florida State
Round of 32: 6 seed Cincinnati or 11 seed Texas
Sweet 16: 2 seed Ohio State
Regional Final: 1 seed North Carolina
National Semifinal: 1 seed Syracuse
National Championship: 1 seed Kentucky

Eight things in life is a lot to ask for. So I’ll only ask for seven:

LSU can wait, if we can just have six huge rocks and perfect aim.

Feel It, Feel It!

November 29, 2011

When I’m at basketball practice, and the coaches and players are encouraging each other, I feel compelled to chime in, to show my support. But I don’t really know exactly what to say without being repetitive.

So I solved this by simply using all the phrases I could think of from Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s hit single: Feel The Vibrations.

Come on, Come on!
Feel it, Feel it!
Get up, Get up!
In it to win it!
I wanna see motivation!
Get yours!
I wanna see sweat comin’ out your pores!

Hey Hollywood, Instead of a Remake, How About a Nice Game Of Chess?

October 30, 2011

They are re-making WarGames. They being some Hollywood movie company.

This is incredibly stupid.

Some hacker kid can’t turn a cold war into a nuclear war through computers in today’s era.

#1 – Remote access of the government’s war computers in 2012-14? Are you kidding me?

That premise doesn’t work now. Sure, the kid hacked the Sony Network, which is designed to be online. The US Military system is NOT designed to be online. They’ve closed that door in the movie industry 15 years ago. In Mission Impossible, they had to break into CIA headquarters to use the computer. Even the biggest technology plot holes in 24 were not this big.

#2 – Hypothetically, if the government’s computers could be entered by some hot shot hacker (and, PS, we already saw the awful Die Hard 4 movie), the hacker is not ACCIDENTALLY starting WWIII because he thinks he’s playing a game:

 “I’m going to steal some video games by hacking into this computer software company’s server at WarGames.com. Ooops, I accidentally hacked WarGames.GOV” ?!??

#3 – Oh, the “there’s a back door the programmer put in himself and never closed” concept (hey, worked in Jurassic Park… in 1993!) doesn’t work. You think the US military has ONE GUY doing their system? It’s a massive team who’d close each other’s backdoor systems.

#4 – The whole plot worked in the 80s because computers were so new, and there was the fear of an older generation within the military, and civilian areas, of things like that happening. McKittrick and Beringer, the two guys at odds over the “new tech war” vs “old school defense systems,” would both be about 10 years younger than my Dad is now. My dad was showing me tic-tac-toe on his work computer 28 years ago (right before the movie came out, probably why I loved it so much).

Anyone in the US military is fully indoctrinated to the role of computers and technology. There’s no possible antagonist. Who believes we can’t trust a computer to handle things in 2013? Do you know anyone who doesn’t have a computer? Ten years ago, my GRANDMOTHER was selling things on sells things on E-Bay!

Don’t believe me? This is the info from my grandmother’s Facebook page.

#5 – WWIII? How are we going to have a full scale, Global Thermonuclear War without Russia? The whole concept of mutual assured destruction was predicated on the fact that we knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the Soviet Union (through our inept CIA), so we thought they were a threat, they thought we were a threat, and we thought we were two massive super powers staring each other down. (In reality, the “intel” we had on the Soviets was so much guesswork by CIA operatives trying not to get fired for finding out nothing so they made it up).

There’s only ONE country that could POSSIBLY fit that bill in 2013: North Korea. And no one is talking down Kim Jong Il, cause that bastard’s crazy.

The only way to advance the plot of “hacker almost starts a nuclear war” in 2013 is if the hacker is trying to get access to what the heck is going on in North Korea, discovering their military systems are online because they’d 30 years behind the times, and inadvertently puts us on the brink of WW3. But that has a major plot hole of… “How the hell would the US government find out, hunt him down, and have him race against the clock to stop it” when the real US response would be “screw it, just annihilate their backward-ass country.”

How about re-making bad movies into good ones, instead of good movies into bad ones?

How The States Got Their Shapes / Why Does Anyone Live There? Part IV

October 18, 2011

There’s a series on The History Channel called “How The States Got Their Shapes,” which tells you… you get it. It talks about imperialism, border wars, territorial fights, political maneuvers, religion, bigotry, slavery, booms in industry and commerce, weather, etc, shaped the borders of, and inside, our country.

One thing they discussed the other day was the economic boom going on now in North Dakota. Which has like three percent unemployment, and plentiful jobs in tech, green initiatives, and dozens of other fields. The cost of living is ridiculously cheap. My employer just hired a guy from North Dakota, he got his law degree, and paid, for SEVEN YEARS (four years of undergrad and three years of law school) about what tuition costs for my friend’s final year of undergrad at Tulane.

Of course, the show makes it sound like everyone should move there immediately with their packaged footage of industry booming, people talking positive at their workplaces, and talking about how great North Dakota is. Which made my broke behind consider looking for a job there.

Then they go to the standup part of the show, where the host interviews people on the street (usually to ask them state trivia questions and have them draw states on a clear marker board). And of course, it’s minus-three degrees outside. They said they found ONE person to interview on the street cause everyone else was inside or not going to stand outside to talk. That leads to the weather discussion, and how it’s so freaking cold there, you need survival gear in your car at all times.

Which my new co-worked completely backed up. I realized, “I pay more for things so I can live in nice weather locations, like smoking a cigar on my porch in New Orleans in December. Since leaving Ohio, it’s snowed in the town of my residence exactly ONCE, and that was wiped away by my windshield wipers. Screw cold!”

I’ll even accept an influx of crime to avoid that cold. While discussing the status of our fair city as “Most Miserable” and having a high crime rate.

Would you actually want to live in any of the “Safest Cities”? There’s no crime because the 48 people – who are too stupid to have moved somewhere better – all know each other.

My new friend from North Dakota summed it up: “You can’t mug someone at gunpoint in North Dakota half the year. If there actually was someone outside to rob, you’d have to go inside because your snot would freeze before they could pull out their wallet from underneath all the layers of clothing. Actually, they’d know your fingers would be too cold to pull the trigger and just punch you in the nose. Getting punched in the face with frozen sinuses would definitely incapacitate you, possibly kill you.”

Yeah, that’s less miserable than my city: where I did a double-take on the first overcast day after 150 straight days of sunshine and temperatures between 72 and 92. I opened a window in April and closed it on October 23rd. Those city rankings need to fix their methodology.