Taylor Swift has a way with lyrics. She's the queen of breakup songs. She speaks to me.
Who doesn't remember their first tween heartbreak? I don't care how old you are, that first bonehead that tore your heart out of your chest at the age of 12 still reverberates in your head at 50, 60, 70 and maybe even 92. The one that got away still hurts just a little -- even after all these years.
Back in the day, early rock 'n roll tunes hit the mark with simple songs that helped comfort and/or nurse the broken heart. Songs like Leslie Gore's "It's My Party, I'll Cry If I Want To" ('You would cry too if it happened to you.')... and the comeback/revenge song: "It's Judy's Turn to Cry." (Radio volume, LOUD!) There were other songs that helped feed your wombs: "Lipstick on Your Collar" (Connie Francis); "Don't Be Cruel" (Elvis Presley); "Tears on My Pillow" (Little Anthony & The Imperials); "Your Cheatin' Heart" (Hank Williams); "When a lovely flame dies": "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (The Platters).
When we hear certain songs, the memories flow, and the heart still connects. Catchy melodies and clever lyrics that recreate certain scenarios live on inside our heads for eternity.
Let's go over some of Miss Taylor Swift's songs that bond girls who have suffered a broken heart or two -- from ages 12 to 19, the vulnerable teen years. These contemporary break-up songs (and 'mean' girl songs) should also hit a collective nerve with the AARP set because we've been there, done that. And that soft mass inside our heads won't let us forget those boyfriends who trampled on our hearts a hundred years ago.
I'm over 50, but I will never forget the humiliation of asking my dreamboat crush, Joe Bob, to a hayride when I was in the 7th grade. He said yes. I was beyond ecstatic! Then the day before we were to go, he called to say he couldn't make it. His excuse was lame. I found out later that he went with another girl. Asswipe! I was crushed... beyond crushed! Cue:
"I Knew You Were Trouble."
'I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now, flew me to places I'd never been
Til you put me down
Oh I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now, flew me to places I'd never been
Now I'm lying on the cold hard ground'
It took years to regain my self-esteem (some say I've never
recovered). Dr. Phil can't help. 'Help me, Rhonda!'
His name was John. Eighth grade. We were sweethearts. One day he told my friend to tell me he was breaking up with me. I sobbed for days. I've seen him in the last few years at reunions. Dear John, my heart still skips a beat when I see your face. Dear, dear John. Cue:
'Dear John, I see it all now that you're gone
Don't you think I was too young to be messed with?
The girl in the dress cried the whole way home.'
My Romeo in my head in 9th grade was voted "Best Looking" in our senior year. It could have been a love story if he had participated. He never showed up at my doorstep, but when we made eye contact I drooled all over myself. I dreamed about him day and night. I would have gladly been his princess. He never called. Cue:
'Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone.
I'll be waiting; all that's left to do is run.
You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess.
It's a love story, baby, just say, "Yes."'
I grew up in a small country town in Alabama, and the only white horses I ever saw showed up each year in the circus. My big crush in 10th grade was was Billy. We saw each other when he would come visit my next door neighbor. He smiled. I melted. My name wasn't Cinderella. And he didn't have a white horse, not even a pony. His father had a little green tractor, but he never took me for a ride on it. I dreamed of tractors, and held on to the white horse fantasy as long as I could. Cue:
'I'm not a princess, this ain't a fairy tale,
I'm not the one you'll sweep off her feet,
Lead her up the stairwell
This ain't Hollywood, this is a small town,
I was a dreamer before you went and let me down,
Now it's too late for you and your white horse to come around.'
It's 11th grade... and 12th. His name was Peter. He liked Lydia (who truly didn't understand him like I did). He was my 'best friend.' I wanted more... marriage after graduation. (So mature.) He never saw me as anything other than a friend. I'll never forget the hours we spent on the phone laughing out loud. Cue:
"You Belong With Me"
'You're on the phone with your girlfriend ‒ she's upset,
She's going off about something that you said
'Cause she doesn't get your humor like I do.
I'm in the room ‒ it's a typical Tuesday night.
I'm listening to the kind of music she doesn't like.
And she'll never know your story like I do.'
'If you could see
That I'm the one
Who understands you.
Been here all along.
So, why can't you see ‒
You belong with me,
You belong with me?'
Happy ending? Peter married Lydia, had three kids, got divorced, then remarried. I got married (and divorced), have four grown children; Peter and I are still great friends 35 (plus) years later. He still makes me laugh out loud but the physical attraction -- poof, gone. Moral of this story? High school crushes are better left to chance. 'Chances Are' Johnny Mathis was right one love at a time. "You Belong With Me": ditto. I love both songs.
Then there were the mean girls in high school and friends who were turncoats. More self-esteem issues. A girl named Claire tortured me with her spiteful putdowns. When I hear these "torch" songs by Taylor Swift, I turn the car radio up really, really loud because... I can relate. Cue:
'You, with your words like knives and swords and weapons that you use against me
You have knocked me off my feet again got me feeling like I'm nothing
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard, calling me out when I'm wounded
You, pickin' on the weaker man....
Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean'
I'm all grown up now, and I can't say these words enough times to my ex-husband. Stop. Listen. Focus. We are NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER getting back together. You're an idiot. Cue:
"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"
'We are never ever ever getting back together
We are never ever ever getting back together
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me
But we are never ever ever ever getting back together'
Attention Taylor Swift. Keep writing. Keep singing. I'm feeling it.
P.S. I interviewed Taylor in 2009 for an article that was published in Country Weekly magazine. She was 19 at the time... sweet, gracious, humble and so mature for her age -- and lovely to interview. I haven't interviewed her since, but I still listen to her music. She rocks!