Hey y’all, it’s Andrew again. Somehow—by sheer obsession, I guess—I’ve now covered 400 records on Vinyl in Alphabetical. Because round numbers are generally a time to do something special, I wanted to make the 400th post memorable. So I had my e-friend Eric Sundermann cover Taylor Swift’s perfect Red album.
In case you are unfamiliar, Eric helped come up with the idea for this blog, and me and him set this up 19 months ago. He wrote some stuff in the early days, but his day job as a hot shot New York editor for the Village Voice, and now Noisey, got in the way. He’s one of the nicest, most gracious dudes on all of the Internet, and I will be forever grateful that he helped launch this blog. Here’s Eric on T. Swift:
I Don’t Wanna Dance If I’m Not Dancing With You
I’m 26 now. In a couple months, I’ll be 27. There’s nothing really profound or extravagant I can say about that. Age is just a number. We get older. Cliché this. Cliché that. But I was talking to someone the other day that, kind of randomly, mentioned they were 22. For the first time that I can remember, I felt old. Well, maybe old isn’t the right word. Distant, perhaps. I’ve been there before. I remember what that was like. I was a completely different person then. But then I thought about it a little bit more, and realized that was a pretty dumb epiphany. When I was 22, I was having those same thoughts and feelings. I remembered what it used to be like, man. I remembered how things used to be, man. It was hard, man.
Every year has me thinking about the previous year, about how things once were, about that café I used to dine at in Iowa City, the one where the same old man would come in every morning at the same time and eat the same meal of two eggs and toast and coffee and orange juice and they’d charge him three dollars. Someone close to me once said that they thought I might be the kind of person who enjoys the feeling of nostalgia and that tinge of sadness.
I’ve only had one Real Romantic Relationship in my life. I won’t go into too much detail, because that’s not really the point or why I bring it up. But, in short, it lasted for about a year. If it were an article on the internet, it’d be tweeted under #longreads. Like all great stories, there were moments of grandeur, moments of fighting, moments of reflection, moments of regret, moments of happiness. It was like every relationship that’s ever existed in the history of mankind, and like every relationship that’s ever existed in the history of mankind, this one was particular and unique—specific to me, and my partner, alone.
It eventually ended. I was sad when that happened. I didn’t have anyone who’d check to make sure I’d eaten lunch that day.
Shortly after that, Taylor Swift’s Red was released—a record that would go on to soundtrack my life, all the way up to this point of me sitting on the couch in the living room of my apartment, slightly stoned, thinking about the past, typing my nostalgic feelings into a blank document, listening to this god damn white girl from Pennsylvania, wondering if adding a comma to a sentence will make the emotional impact more effective. I’m not sure if it’s working.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about Taylor Swift that’s so universally appealing. But there’s something there, something intangible, something you can’t really grab onto. When you describe what it is that you like about her, the typical process, for me, involves stumbling over a bunch of incoherent words and rubbing my fingers together like they’re twigs and I’m trying to start a fire. She’s basic. She’s manufactured. And she’s incredible.
I went to a Halloween party in October of 2012, which was kind of a weird time for the culture. Obama was running for re-election, but no one really knew if it was a good idea to vote for him or not. I was about six months into my first “real job,” and I still had no idea what I was doing. Hurricane Sandy was on the horizon, and no one really thought that was going to be a Thing. For that time of year, the temperature was surprisingly warm. I remember this because a friend of mine’s costume was “Sexy Mitt Romney” and for it, he decided to match his slick jacket and tie with a pair of boxer shorts, and only boxer shorts. The boxer shorts were bright orange.
The party was at a friend of a friend’s, a guy I’d met a handful of times, and any party he’d hosted previously usually ended with a lot of loud sing-alongs to Blink 182. He was a media person. I was excited to go because I wanted to meet more media people, which is something stupid that a lot of dumb young people in their 20s who work in media and live in New York like to do—they go to places where they can see (and perhaps talk) to members of their Twitter timeline. It’s the lamest thing, and we all do it. But regardless of my motives, this party was a good one. I was on the younger end of the age spectrum. Most attendees were closer to 30. We drank a lot. We sang a lot. We danced a lot. The space wasn’t too large, which probably caused us to sweat more than we should have. As is the case with most great parties, I don’t remember many of the details beyond that.
Someone probably requested Cam’ron multiple times. Cam’ron was then probably played multiple times. There was probably a drunken rendition of “Semi-Charmed Life.” We all definitely did a sing-along to “Runaway.” Then, after what felt like hours of dancing, those guitar strums kicked in—those recognizable quick little pops. Ba-dah-duh-dun-dah-duh-dun. And then Taylor’s voice. Those ever-familiar lyrics: “I remember when we broke up the first time / Saying, “This is it, I’ve had enough,” ‘cause like / We hadn’t seen each other in a month / When you said you needed space. (What?)”
The place erupted. We all knew the words. We sang every single syllable. We couldn’t stop. And at that moment, I took a second to look around myself, staring at the small sea of young professionals, each of us dressed like something that we thought was funny or clever or would get double digit Instagram likes, and we all threw our hands up, shouting. We knew the words. We didn’t care. We never, ever, wanted to get back together. And we did it together.
Eric Sundermann works for Noisey and lives in New York. He’s on Twitter here. Here’s a picture of him with Taylor Swift.