We All Love Taylor.
So Let’s Make a Book.
By fans. For fans.
This book is a tribute to Taylor,
but she is not involved in its creation.
We haven’t conducted a formal poll, but we’re willing to bet that Simon & Schuster employs more Swifties than any other book publisher in America. At all job levels and from all backgrounds, we are passionate fans who simply want a great book about Taylor to exist. That is, until the time comes for her to write her own—which we’d love to publish! Here’s a little more about us.
Jonathan Karp, President and Publisher
For about eighteen months, Red was the only thing my daughter and I could agree to listen to when we were driving to visit the grandparents, so I know every song on that album in intimate detail. My favorite is “22”, because TS manages to encapsulate the entire twentysomething experience in nine words: “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.” Hearing that song, I felt wistful for that time of life, but I also found myself marveling at the songwriter’s gift for being able to express so perfectly what she and her friends are experiencing, in the moment. The song on Red that intrigues me the most is “The Lucky One,” with its allusion to a legendary performer (Google tells me it might be Joni Mitchell) who “took the money and your dignity and got the hell out” and “chose the rose garden over Madison Square.” The tune is irresistible and the song itself makes me want to take up gardening, something I’ve never before even thought about doing. That’s the mark of a persuasive songwriter.
Favorite Song: “22”
Kelsey Donohue, Publicity Assistant
I have always felt a certain kinship with Taylor. Not only were we born in the same year, 1989, but we were born and raised just an hour apart in rural PA (her in Reading, me in Sellersville). I consider the fact that she started in the same boring corner of the world that I did, and has made it to where she is now, a point of pride. In many ways, she’s been in my life longer than most people; one of my fondest high school memories is of driving around the back streets with my best friends, screaming the words to “Love Story” like our lives depended on it—and maybe they did. In college, Speak Now arrived, and “Mine” became an instant obsession (an ideal no college guy quite lived up to, sadly). In the year between college and my first job in the city, as I struggled to “figure things out,” Red settled me, made me feel like things were going to work out, eventually. Plus, a dramatic breakup meant even a single chord of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was instant catharsis . . . but I confess my real favorite was “Treacherous,” because maybe I was a little tempted, okay?
As for 1989, named for the year of our birth? Perfection. “Blank Space,” “Bad Blood,” “Style,” and every video more fun than the last—Taylor has arrived.
Favorite Song: Currently a tie between “Wildest Dreams” and “Style”
Ben Loehnen, Senior Editor
I am always late. Late to get an iPhone and join Facebook. Late to Homeland and Mad Men and The Wire. Late to the cronut and quinoa. And I was late to Taylor Swift. I showed up for 1989. I am a childless thirty-seven-year-old male, so I suppose I can blame my tardiness on demographics (though I blessed those demographics when three friends and I went to Nashville to see her concert this past September; “No lines for beer or the men’s room,” one accurately joked). But for the last fifteen months—since a moment late at night on a Connecticut road when I heard “Shake It Off” for the first time—I have been a fan. I love Taylor’s music and her humor and her compassion and her style, but I love her lyrics most of all: “...a nightmare dressed like a daydream...” “...and in the end in wonderland we both went mad...” “...I could go on and on and on... but you were still gone, gone, gone.” Those metaphors, those rhymes, that syntax! She’s a writer—a brilliant satirist, a skilled poet, a moving storyteller—and until she writes a book of her own, she deserves one from fans like me.
Favorite Song: “This Love”
Brit Hvide, Associate Editor
This is my love story with “Love Story.” Classic meet-cute: Freshman in college, feeling awkward, sits at a table in the cafeteria and hears it. At first there’s tension. (There always is.) It’s too bright, too catchy, and cycled on the radio waaay too often, and I think I’m too cool for something so pop. Over time, by sheer force of repetition, our charmingly antagonistic relationship grows to friendship, then affection. Then comes the moment of total reconciliation: During a night of karaoke after a breakup, the song comes on. It’s exactly what I need—the perfect mix of sad nostalgia and bold, belt-worthy joy. Fireworks! Roll credits! Today “Love Story” is one of my favorite songs, and a karaoke staple, and Taylor one of my favorite artists. So I guess we lived happily ever after.
Favorite Song: ...duh.
Megan Reid, Associate Editor
We’re both gawky and 5’10”, we both love New York a little more than is healthy, and neither of us has quite figured out what to do with our faces when we dance. Taylor Swift and I are growing up together.
She was with me in the air en route to Heathrow, whisking away my nervousness about studying abroad after a bump of the in-flight entertainment system sent “Our Song” bubbling into my headphones. She was there in the backseat with me, with “Fifteen” on my iPod, staring out at the Texas landscape as my parents drove me to grad school, feeling so grown up, and so, so young. We walked into a Noho cocktail bar together for my first real older-guy, high heel-wearing, definitely-not-in-the-suburbs-anymore date to the beat of “I Knew You Were Trouble.” We cried on my bed to “Begin Again” after that guy never texted me back. And last year, we were buying champagne when the wine store speakers started blaring “Blank Space,” and we started dancing in the aisles because we just knew it was a sign that magic was in store.
How could I leave her now?
Favorite Song: "Hey Stephen"
Lindsay Means, Publicity Assistant
The first time I heard Taylor Swift on the radio, I was in high school and suffering from a particularly bad case of unrequited love. Her songs did more than to soothe my teenage angst—if a successful songwriter halfway across the country was also the owner of a foolish, complicated heart, then perhaps I wasn’t as alone as I thought. Taylor’s music has been riding shotgun beside me ever since: through high school and college; through more crinkly emotional terrain; through a move to New York, as I tried to find my own place in this world. I may not know what the future holds, but I’m sure it has a Taylor Swift soundtrack.
Favorite Song: "Out of the Woods"
Richard Rhorer, Vice President and Associate Publisher
I was an intermittent Taylor listener from the start. As a guy, I always felt sheepish about admitting how much I loved “Teardrops on My Guitar.” Then I heard “I Knew You Were Trouble” from the Red record and I became a devotee. The song has a jittery pop bounce on the verses then the chorus drops that bit of dub step on the trouble, trouble, trouble refrain. It’s darker and edgier than anything Taylor had released up to that point. I went with my stepdaughter to see Taylor’s concert this past summer at the MetLife Stadium. The entire show captured a star at her zenith. The 60,000 fans in the stadium sparkled like a constellation with flickering wristbands that were distributed at the gate. Taylor was the supernova at the center. Between songs, Taylor offered words or wisdom to all the young women in the crowd about valuing their friends and themselves. It was the perfect message for my twelve-year-old stepdaughter. For me, I got to hear my favorite Taylor Swift song rearranged with that dark, dub step vibe taking over the entire tune. It was a perfect night.
Favorite Song: “I Knew You Were Trouble”
Julianna Haubner, Editorial Assistant
Either by divine enterprise or total coincidence, major milestones in my life somehow perfectly align with new Taylor albums. Every song has a memory attached. Whether it’s nursing my first high school heartbreak with “Teardrops on My Guitar,” gleefully belting “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” with my best friends after a college breakup, or the “Welcome to New York” single dropping the week I landed my dream job (even if it was in Midtown), it seems like Taylor has always been there, offering advice and a soundtrack for life. Her songs are not only catchy, they’re classic. She has this special and rare ability to tap into feelings we all have, and moments we all experience, and that makes it easy to have a song for every occasion. Like movies, books, and your favorite meal, they feed your soul and give you exactly the kind of comfort, motivation, or wake-up call that you need. When you listen, you feel like it’s been written just for you. But nothing beats being in a random moment when a song comes on shuffle and you realize: that’s what she was talking about. When you just get it. The night before I graduated college, I went for a walk around campus. I’d arrived there four years before a shy and nervous girl, trying desperately to forge a new path and break free of who I’d been expected to be in high school. I’d spent most of my life thinking that I would fit into a certain space and be a certain kind of person, especially when I was fifteen and the whole concept of “life” was suddenly dawning on—and scaring the heck out of—me. I’d surprised myself in college. I’d fallen in and out of love, found incredible friends, studied abroad, taken chances, tried new things, let myself fail and succeed. I’d come into my own. For a while, I strolled around the graduation tent in silence, but as I started to head back to my dorm for the last time, I stuck my headphones in and pressed play. Suddenly,
You just might find who you’re supposed to be. I didn’t know who I was supposed to be, at fifteen…
As always, Tay had perfect timing.
Favorite Song: Top four: “Long Live,” “Style,” “Everything Has Changed,” and “Fifteen.”
Erin Reback, Senior Publicist
I wouldn’t call myself a music lover. Sure, I appreciate a catchy tune as much as the next girl and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love to sing in the shower from time to time, but it’s extremely rare that I know who’s who on the Billboard Hot 100 or what has been deemed the hit song of summer. And I say rarely, rather than never, because there are a few artists whose latest album I do look forward to with as much anticipation as the biggest fan. Taylor Swift is one of those artists, and has been since I first heard (and quickly memorized) “Our Song” so many years ago. I love Taylor’s songs for all the obvious reasons: they’re honest, they’re fresh, and every single one is so damn catchy. But I also admire Taylor as a person: she’s confident, she’s smart, and she genuinely believes in the power of her craft. I don’t have to be a music lover to love Taylor Swift, because Taylor Swift is more than her music.
Favorite Song: "Love Story"
Elizabeth Gay, Publicist
I’m a lifetime lover of country music, mostly because I’ve always loved the stories country songs tell, whether about revenge on a cheatin’ man or a whirlwind summertime love. The first Taylor Swift song I ever heard (and loved) was “Our Song”—a perfect country gem complete with a slammin’ screen door. Even though Taylor’s sound has evolved and she may have lost the twang, I love that she hasn’t lost that country feel because all of her songs tell stories that rope you in and invite you to really listen, the way all great country songs (and great storytellers) do.
Favorite Song: Can’t choose between classic “Our Song” and “All Too Well”
Rakesh Satyal, Senior Editor
I am a gay Indian American man from the Midwest in my mid-30s, and I absolutely adore Taylor Swift. “Absolutely adore” might, in fact, be an understatement (“Taylor Swift is a musical genius” would also be an understatement). I have sung songs by Taylor Swift in public places more than I have introduced authors in public places, more than I have recited literary quotes in public places—heck, more than I have thanked my parents in public places for having given life to me. There was the time when I was invited to speak at an arts salon and ended up singing “You Belong With Me” instead (every last member of the literati in attendance knew every word). There was the time when I was asked to participate in a speech competition and, in lieu of that, sang “I Knew You Were Trouble” after reading an essay about how innovative and irresistible the song was. And then there was the time when I decided to perform the entirety of 1989 as a cabaret show onstage because, hey, if Ryan Adams can make his album, I can certainly jazz things up and fill a room with Swifties who want to unabashedly scream out lyrics with a group of like-minded devotees. To me, Taylor Swift’s catalog is not just poetry but literature; she is an empathetic storyteller in her songs, each of which paints a specific world and allows you to walk into it. Her music is the perfect blend of eagle-eyed craftswomanship, endless emotional creativity, and a wondrous sense of humor about love, friendship, and the myriad challenges of just trying to live in this world. She is our Joni Mitchell and our Lucille Ball, all in one.
Favorite Songs: “You Belong with Me,” “Mine,” “Holy Ground,” “Begin Again,” and “All You Had to Do Was Stay”
Emily Graff, Editor
I just found out that my mom loves Taylor Swift. I discovered this when I called her, recently, and I heard 1989 blaring in the background (her favorite song: “Welcome to New York”). We were working on a playlist for my parents’ anniversary party, and added “Shake it Off” right after the Rolling Stones’s “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.” That’s the power of Taylor Swift: her appeal spans genres, continents, generations. And that’s all thanks to her writing—the music, sure, but also the lyrics, their narrative momentum. I think I know why my mom, who moved from Pittsburgh to New York to pursue a career in theater, likes that opening track so much (“Welcome to New York / It’s been waiting for you”). We didn't talk about it. We didn't need to. Taylor Swift’s lyrics are at once intimate and expansive. Through them, we can connect to one another. Through them, we can see that our experiences are similar, despite genres, continents, generations.
Favorite Song: “The Best Day” (“I’m taking this chance to say / That I had the best day with you today.”)
Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Senior Editor
Taylor and I both grew up in small towns in Pennsylvania. Those early records captured that experience so vividly, and so romantically, that I was hooked from the first verse of “Tim McGraw.” My admiration for her talent as a songwriter and performer has only grown since then. These days there’s nothing I love more than bouncing around the kitchen with my kids to “22” or “New Romantics.” Since I’m a book person, and Taylor is first and foremost such an amazing writer, it actually bothers me that there’s no great book about her, and I’m hoping this project will change that. I’ve been thinking of it as a very elaborate mash note.
Favorite Song: Tie between “All Too Well” and “Mary’s Song”