Jody, I found your description of the Taylor Swift concert at Madison Square Garden—as well as the experience of listening to her music for the past week as preparation for our discussion of Swift on the last Slate Culture Gabfest —unexpectedly moving. Top 10 hits by 19-year-old country-pop starlets aren’t usually high in my iPod rotation, so no one could be more surprised than I am that I now know several of Swift’s songs by heart. (Stephen Metcalf, the Gabfest’s host and resident curmudgeon, can be heard gagging in the background; he and Jody are currently engaged in a Taylor Swift smackdown over at the podcast’s Facebook page .)
It could be that I’m so far outside the age demographic for T-Swift fandom that I’ve circled back around and entered it again. Even before watching that clip of the 15,000-girl campfire singalong at the Garden (or getting sniffly at " The Best Day ," her insidiously catchy tribute to her mother), I found that I was listening to Swift as a parent: touched by her youthful talent, worrying about how she’ll negotiate the transition from teen phenomenon to adult professional musician, and hoping to God that when my daughter is 15, she’ll be listening to something like Swift’s "Fifteen" and not whatever the equivalent of Britney Spears will be in 2019. Better yet, maybe my girl will be writing her own earnest ballads about freshman anxiety. Whether you like her music or not, it's great to think that Swift's success as a singer-songwriter (as opposed to a pneumatic lip-synching doll) could inspire the next generation of girls to pick up a guitar and learn to play .
TODAY IN SLATE
The Ebola Story
How our minds build narratives out of disaster.
The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola
PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer
The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics
A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers
Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.