Okay Can We Talk About Taylor Swift's Tiny Desk Concert?

My dad and I are both super into music and he’s been listening to NPR Tiny Desk Concerts for years. From time to time, he’ll text me links to specific concerts he likes but mostly they’re folk bands that I’ve never heard of. On Wednesday afternoon, he called me and goes, “Taylor Swift on Tiny Desk!” and texted my younger sister a similar message. I knew that if he was that excited about her performance, it had to be good. So I sat down to watch it



Taylor Swift begins the concert by describing what these Tiny Desk Concerts mean for artists, saying, “It’s an opportunity for artists to decide a different way to showcase their music.” Taylor goes on to say that she decided to show the audience what her songs sounded like when she first wrote them. As Taylor’s fame progressed she started adding bonus tracks to her albums to explain her writing process, like the voice memos in 1989. Even my friends who don’t love Taylor’s music never argue against her talent as a songwriter, so I think it’s fitting that her Tiny Desk Concert highlights the creation and development aspect of her music. 


She opens with “The Man,” and as she introduces the song, she absentmindedly strums her guitar and discusses the meaning behind it and how it represents the double standard between men and women: “It’s something I’ve thought about 700 million times a day for the last ten years of my life.” For those ten years, she’s been in the spotlight and suffered lots of backlash from fans and critics alike. I think most people can get behind Taylor’s music, but so many can’t get behind her, especially considering the many conflicts she has had with other celebrities, such as her feud with Kim and Kanye and her breakup with Calvin Harris. Swift isn’t everyone’s favorite celebrity, but her position as a woman amplifies the mistakes and choices she makes and her comments reflect the toll it’s taken on her.

Taylor then transitions to the title track of her latest album, Lover. “I’ve spent quite a bit of time writing break-up songs,” she says with a laugh and a flex. I think most of her new album reflects her self-acceptance. I’ve been describing Lover as the “calm after her meltdown” (a.k.a. Reputation) and I think that phrase is fitting. She is aware that she’s known for love songs and she’s okay with that. What makes her Tiny Desk performance special and unique are the little adjustments she makes to songs such as “Lover,” including the runs she adds to her voice and the notes she changes, which adds a new level to the song that I absolutely love. 


Her opening guitar work on “Death by A Thousand Cuts” and her whispers of “my my my” (a nod to Mary’s Song for all the old swifties out there!) gave me chills the first time I heard them, and I knew I was in for an emotional ride. Her combination of belting and absolutely jamming on the guitar really emphasizes the pain behind the song and puts the lyrics in a whole new light. 


Last but certainly not least, Taylor closes with the accepted favorite of her music, “All Too Well.” It was even trending on Twitter earlier this week.


“All Too Well” is the song that I used to blast in high school (and okay, still now in college) when I felt like my heart was being torn apart. It’s a top tier cry song and to hear it stripped down and tweaked made me feel like I was hearing it for the first time. 


I think that often Taylor Swift gets buried underneath the drama and tabloids, and the heart of her and her music gets lost. The Tiny Desk concert is a reminder for me that her music is incredible, she’s very talented, and everything else is unimportant. 


Photo 1 & 2