Taylor Swift's Tiny Desk Concert included real talk about her breakup songs and maybe even a Trump joke
Taylor Swift greeted a sea of listeners in NPR's Washington, D.C., office last week with some topical humor for natives of the nation's capital.
"It's great to be in DC. You guys, uh, have anything exciting going on the last couple weeks?" she joked without directly mentioning the Trump impeachment inquiry. "Any possible changes in play?"
Performing in one of NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts, Swift featured three songs from her new album "Lover" – "The Man," "Death By a Thousand Cuts" and the title track – plus "All Too Well," a fan favorite from her 2012 album "Red."
Between songs, she handed out guitar picks to a few lucky kids (whose parents will undoubtedly hold the experience over their heads for years to come) and explained her writing process.
Swift said her favorite line in "Lover" is a triumphant one from title track's bridge: "With every guitar string scar on my hand / I take this magnetic force of a man to be my lover."
Since her self-titled album debut in 2006, Swift has become a bit of a punchline for her affinity for dating famous men and then writing breakup songs about them. (See her new song "The Man" for her thoughts on the gender divide with that one.)
"That line (in 'Lover') is really special to me because I've spent quite a bit of time writing breakup songs," she said with a knowing smile. "And songs about things not turning out the way you wanted them to, and songs about what you thought would be love and turned out to not be that at all... In life, you accumulate scars, you accumulate hurt, you accumulate moments of learning and disappointment and struggle and all that. And if someone's going to take your hand, they better take your hand, scars and all."
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One question Swift said she's gotten from interviewers since the beginning: "What will you write about if you ever get happy?"
It threw her for a loop for a while. She'd get by with an answer about liking to write breakup songs since she was little, drawing from pop culture and the world around her rather than her own life for inspiration.
"But then I'd go home and be like, 'What would I ever do if I was happy? Would I not be able to write breakup songs?'" she wondered. "I love breakup songs. They're so fun to write."
Swift can proudly say she is happy now. "Lover" gives fans a glimpse into the artist's world when she isn't living the inspiration for what will later become a devastating song about the end of a relationship, like "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," "Back to December," or the aforementioned "All Too Well."
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But that doesn't mean the new album is void of heartbreak. Swift had lots of conversations with friends about relationship drama and reading books with breakups and one day woke up with lyrics in her mind that would eventually become "Death By a Thousand Cuts."
"I was like, 'it's still here! Yes!" Swift said with a laugh. "This song is my proof. I don't have to stop writing about heartbreak and misery. Which, for me, is incredible news."
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