Question… Can the Ultra-Famous have Reeaal Friends? [Part 5]

27 Nov

Taylor wins the pronoun game.  I’m not even going to try to untangle the speaker/recipient/changing characters in this song.  It was written so convoluted that I haven’t even seen a satisfactory answer to this yet.  Instead, I took lyric snippets from other songs featuring the same word, to get a feeling about Taylor’s sentiment and even the song’s subject(s). Don’t get overwhelmed with the length of this post.  The word I’m trying to point-out from Question… lyrics is highlighted.  

Miss Americana showed me that Taylor is pretty isolated, and lonely much of the time. In the documentary I came away with the impression that the people around Taylor are mostly superficial. Brendan was distracted, for instance. Abigale is still Taylor’s friend, but things were stilted. They are in different places in life. Abigale has a family and Taylor’s super-fame is not relatable. They had little to talk about. Tree, Taylor’s publicist seemed like the most genuine, interested person, but she’s on the pay-role. The other people on Taylor’s team seemed harsh and judgmental. Their focus was the brand making money, not Taylor the person who has actual thoughts and feelings. Taylor’s love interest was seldom shown. It was weirdly secret, and when Taylor won her Grammy’s she had nobody to share her happy moment with. Taylor’s mom was the only person that was there for Taylor, the person. And I think Taylor’s super-celebrity status makes her alone in the world. Her idea of friends conveys this:

And every single one of your friends was making fun of you

Friends:

Dorothea

blank space

You need to calm down

paper rings

london boy

Lover

champagne problems

tis the damn season

the last great American dynasty

Archer

This is why we can’t have nice things

Closure

Taylor talks about 5 categories of friends, with many people overlapping in the categories over time.  There are famous friends, other queers, peripheral friends, betrayers, and a friend who became her lover.

There are strategic friends.  “You got shiny friends since you left town.” The friends are new, dazzling, and elevate status.  What Dorthea does not say is that the friends have a lot in common, are good listeners, or loyal.  I get the impression from the passing remarks that these relationships could be superficial or to be in a certain scene.   The friendships are for publicity, to get in a door, or just thrust together because they are in the same business.  In the highly satirical song, Blank Space, she casually says “let’s be friends.”  There is nothing real or authentic about it.  It’s not a friendship based on trust or mutual interests, it’s mutually beneficial.  Taylor is describing entering into a contract for the benefit of the media and general public, not a genuine connection.  

Then there are other queers.  Taylor feels their commonalities.  They are physically around where she lives, and in the industry.  They share similar experiences and struggles.  Though Welcome to New York doesn’t specifically say “friends” it has a similar tone to the rest of these songs.  

Welcome to New York

These people escaped their small towns and the homophobia so rife in them.  Many of them were estranged from family and had no one when they came to New York looking for a better life.  They put that angst, and the pain of being bullied for being gay, away and lived more authentically.  These people came together, and are coexisting in the same space, but Taylor doesn’t mention being especially close to any of them.  She is doing her own thing, and they are going about their business too.  They nervously and excitedly walk through the village realizing there are people like them.  They search for love–a unique experience given their childhood isolation and trauma.  And Taylor is right there with them, feeling the difference in acceptance between Nashville and New York.  In You Need to Calm Down, these friends are explicitly named as part of the queer community.  The homophobes are comin’ at them like a missile.  And Taylor is on the inside of the gay trailor-park, the same as the queer friends.  Though she isn’t close to any one person in this community, she gets it.  Taylor is one of the queers.

There are other people that are around during the important relationship.  In a lot of the songs, friends are relegated to the background, while Taylor and her Lover are centered in the lyrics.  In Paper Rings the friends were high the first night they met.  It’s like Taylor barely notices the friends because her love “blurs her periphery”-they are just inebriated people that can crash in the living room.  The friends are just there in songs like London Boy.  Champagne problems reiterate that the friends are fickle, not evergreen.  If something goes wrong, the friends aren’t there cheering.  Much like this song, Question…

The fourth category are betrayers.  I get major frenemies vibes from most of these songs, actually.  In Tis the Damn Season Taylor talks about so-called friends just there to gossip.  Last Great American Dynasty uses bitch-pack, a moniker that may be a bit sarcastic, but isn’t a super-nice way to describe actual friends.  The Archer says all her enemies started out as friends.  In This is Why we Can’t Have Nice Things, Taylor reminds the audience that she isn’t that great at picking out authentic friends.  She aligned with people who later turned on her, and threw her under the bus.  She makes a point to toast her real friends, but in the same breath mentions the people she can actually depend on-her mama and her baby(lover).  

Finally, there is Karlie.  Her lover and her went from friends to this.  She keeps writing pages about their epic love story.  And after the final break-up being friends again would iron it out so nice.  But Taylor doesn’t want that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: