Friday, March 16, 2012

Country, when Country wasn't cool

I’m ripping off the Band-Aid today.

I’m getting real.

I’m coming clean.

I’m a Taylor Swift fan.

For years I’ve been saying that I listen to her music because it helps me get into the teenage mind when I write – most specifically, Zellie, because I think a 16-year-old pastor’s daughter is definitely Tay Swift’s target demographic.

I’m not her target demographic. I’ll be thirty-seven in May. I drive a mini-van. When I was her age, Grunge music was all the rage. I have the flannels and long-haired college radio DJ’ing ex-boyfriend to prove it.

The last time I confessed to enjoying girly pop music…the name Debbie Gibson comes to mind. On the bus ride to school, Bill Ellis asked me if I liked Bon Jovi or Michael Jackson better and I said I loved Electric Youth.

One tends to remember the most embarrassing moments in their life.

After that, I never admitted to liking anything that wasn’t Cool Guy Approved – The Mighty Lemondrops, The Violent Femmes, Kate Bush, They Might Be Giants, Blondie, The Cure, Uncle Tupelo, The Pixies, The Replacements. I genuinely liked and like these artists.

But when I was home alone hairbrush singing in the mirror…I was all about Showtunes, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Paula Abdul (!), Celine Dion and Mariah Carey.

And forget New Country. That was like owning up to thinking it was okay to marry your cousin.

Hence, there was a period of time where I kept all of my Faith Hill CD’s in Ani DiFranco cases.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with liking Taylor Swift, or Mariah or Faith – it’s just not me that’s supposed to.

But I do, and not in an ironic guilty pleasure sort of way.

I like Taylor because she writes her own songs and because she learned how to play the banjo. She’s not the best singer in the world, but her intentions are good, her words are heartfelt and she tells a great story.

She writes about longing and forgiveness, first love, passion, heartbreak and getting your feelings hurt. I find her songs to always be in the moment and I never doubt that she’s gone through the emotions she’s singing about herself.

And that makes her relatable.

Who hasn’t loved someone that didn’t love them, or wished they could take something back that they’ve said?

Who among us hasn’t wanted to ask our critics, “why ya gotta be so mean?”

Plus, she basically called out John Mayer for being John Mayer-y in Dear John and I think that’s something we can all get behind.

Change is my favorite Taylor Swift song, mostly because it’s loud and rockin’ and makes me feel like I’m kickin’ ass and takin’ names.

Shall we commence to get our girly rock on?


Stacey Wallace Benefiel is the author of the Zellie Wells trilogy, the Day of Sacrifice series, The Toilet Business - a collection of essays, and multiple short stories. She sometimes goes by S.W. Benefiel, but knows she's not foolin' anybody. Stacey lives in an orange house in Beaverton, OR with her husband and their two kids.

Her website is:


  1. I really like Taylor Swift. My respect and regard for an artist skyrockets when I know they write their own music too. :)

  2. I love, love, love, love Taylor Swift too!!!!

    For the record, I...
    1. Hate new country (love Charlie Daniels Band & the Oak Ridge Boys)
    2. I am going to be 37 this year
    3. I will never drive a minivan, thankyouverymuch (just don't bash my CR-V)

    There's no shame in admitting you love many types of tunes. I do too. I can go from Pitbull to Blackmore's Night to Alice Cooper in mere minutes.

    Keep rockin', SWB!!!!!! <3

  3. I am a big Taylor Swift fan too! My husband, on the other hand, will sometimes tap me on the shoulder and say, "No more Taylor Whats-her-name today okay? I can't take it." LOL. He doesn't know good music when he hears it!

    My favorite is MEAN, because it really speaks to my childhood - not that anyone ever hit me or anything, but I had this aunt who was always putting me down and I always thought... Someday...

  4. I love Taylor Swift. I'm also very eclectic when it comes to music. I like just about anything except heavy metal. I have to draw the line somewhere. ;)

  5. Yay! It's good to know I'm not the only one. What do you think? YA authors and Taylor Swift fans go hand in hand?

  6. Since we're tearing off the band aid, I must admit, I enjoy listening to her from time to time. She tells a great story!

  7. How can anyone NOT like Taylor Swift? I mean, com'on.

  8. Only my husband knows about my Taylor Swift addiction....well, I guess that's not true now, is it? He's the one who buys me her next CD. I think he secretly likes her too...but, let's keep that on the DL along with the fact that he likes the Twilight books enough to reread them. He's gonna kill me. I admit I know the words to all her songs and I sing them like my life depends on it! Whew, that felt good.

    I haven't really told people because 1) My age and all the reasons you listed (minivan included) 2) if someone asks me why, I don't have good enough answer to justify my obsession 3) I don't want to see ridicule in people's eyes.

    As of today, I will no longer let people think my T-Swift CDs are my daughters...LOL. I'm coming out!

    1. Stay strong, sister! :)Mini-van Mom's who listen to age inappropriate music unite!!

  9. I heart Taylor Swift so much, it's not even normal. Her Speak Now Cd lives in my car Cd player. I crank it as loud as I can when I drive and don't care who sees me.

    There's something about her music that speaks to seventeen-year-old me on this really deep level. She's on every single playlist for every book I've written, and not just because I write YA with female lead characters. Taylor is magical. I challenge anyone who says otherwise.

    Taylor Forever! *makes rock fingers*

  10. This was AWESOME and I can relate more than I want to admit! :)

  11. I've never sought out a Taylor Swift CD, but I enjoy her on the radio. I also enjoy the country types on American Idol more than the others, and I have to admit that when I walk into some redneck bar that plays country music, it feels a little like coming home. I don't listen to country much now (I'm sort of with Megg on that), but I was really into it in the early 90s. I still think it has the most clever lyrics of any music genre. Lots of word plays and so forth. From a literary standpoint, it can be very intelligent and creative.

  12. i love her too but man she was way too skinny at mtv awards/grammy's this year!