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Where Taylor Swift Goes, We Go: A Trip Back to 2008

 

Thirteen years after the original album Fearless was released, Taylor Swift is taking her work back in Fearless (Taylor’s Version) tonight at midnight. 

I remembered singing into a hairbrush in my bedroom at eight years old, imitating her character in the “You Belong with Me” music video, and looking out the car window on rainy days pretending I’m Taylor in “White Horse”. Fearless was a turning point in her career, a signal of unmistakeable growth from her debut album, where she expands her vocals, songwriting and creative production skills. Fearless featured iconic bops like “Fifteen”, “Love Story” and “Fearless”. Many of her most loyal fans are my age now–young adults, trying to find their place in the world. In elementary school, we smiled with her in “The Best Day” and cried with her in “Forever & Always”. “The Way I Loved You” taught my childhood friends and me the realities of losing the right one and filling the space in our hearts with someone else–even though it can help, it will never be right. 

Taylor Swift wrote this album as an eighteen-year-old girl learning the ropes of fame. She reflects on it now, as a 32-year-old woman, with over a decade of experience. She’s been molded by years of painful negotiations with record labels, malicious members of the press and incessant attention from naysayers. But in the same amount of time, she’s gained millions of loyal fans, traveled the world, facilitated social change and written iconic music that will emerge victorious from the prison of time. She’s seasoned, mature and unwilling to allow her work to be hidden in “the vault” for any longer. 

So, tomorrow, we will be privy to the songs her record label wouldn’t clear for release back in 2008–or, at least, a fraction of them. 

A re-record of Fearless, among the other albums owned by Big Machine record label, is symbolic both of Taylor’s personal reflection on her personal and professional journeys. She revisits the emotions she was feeling at 16, 17 and 18 years old and contributes a new tone to them. Tomorrow, we will join her in that reflection. I will be locked up in my room until I make my way through the album, both the original songs and the songs from the vault. Hopefully, once I’ve finished it, I’ll realize I’ve achieved what 8-year-old Jenna always wanted–to be just like Taylor. But at 19, that looks less like long legs and red lips and more like having pride in the obstacles I’ve overcome, satisfaction in the goals I’ve reached, and confidence in the person I have become along the way.

Jenna Spray

Northwestern '23

Jenna is a journalism and legal studies double major at Northwestern University. In her free time, she enjoys binge eating dark chocolate and studying Italian in hopes that she can one day become an honorary Italian citizen. As a washed-up high school athlete, fitness is one of Jenna's passions, and her goal is to encourage more young women to get in the weight room. You can find her curled up in her bed watching Gossip Girl or using the squat rack at your local gym.
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