I’m late to the Taylor Swift party. And I may not stay long.
At the 2012 Grammys, she sang her hit single, Mean, and needless-to-say, I connected. Me, and the millions of others who had already made her platinum selling album, Speak Now, a hit. Let’s face it, is there any person on the planet who can’t turn to someone and say, “Why you gotta be so mean?”
But a beautiful exclamation point on the universal story of wanting to get to the metaphorical “big city” came at Grammys. I had to reverse engineer the story, because I only listened to the original song after seeing her perform, but it was no less powerful in the remembering.
Taylor’s got two things in the story of being picked on, oppressed, and maligned that she’s aspiring to in the chorus. Living in, “a big old city” is my favorite. The quintessential get-out-of-your small-town-living-well-is-the-best-revenge-move-on dream. She’s also got, “big enough so you can’t hit me.” All you’re ever gonna be is mean, she sings.
It’s a nice when the heroine of the story looks and sounds like Taylor, and by age of twenty-two is a mega star. But that’s what makes us want to imagine that we’re her. That our little sad story ends so well; in a golden dress with a Grammy in each hand.
At one point in the song, the music stops and the beat is maintained by clapping. When that happened at the Grammys, Taylor swapped out the lyrics, “living in a big old city” for, “singing at the Grammys.”
That’s got to be a great moment to live through. Then she won a Grammy for the song, and one for best country performance.
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.