Thursday, April 29, 2021

i haven't met the new me yet

"I hope she'll be a beautiful fool.

who takes my spot next to you"


Like many Swifties the past few weeks , I've been listening to the re-recorded version of Fearless, and as such, revisiting my own past life in listening to songs that I loved more than a decade ago. Mostly when I first listened and thought, despite initial bias that TS was a country popster like many, that she was an actually an amazing songwriter, especially as later albums like Speak Now, Red, and 1989 attest.  While I've always been a musical omniviore, enjoying many genres of music, it's only in the last two decades that I've embraced a love of country after years of rolling my eyes as my parents listened to iit.  As such, I was a perfect audience for TS's cross-over creations, and while I didn't like everything in every album, there was still much that I did like on Reputation and Lover.  Of course, Folklore and Evermore are so good which actually pushed her back more toward country roots than previous albums. Especially since one of the things that makes country more appealing to ne is narrative and storytelling, which is as much true in poems as it is in songs, so I'm here for it. 

With all this revisiting of old music, it occurred to me how strange it must be, as a songwriter (or a writer or a artist or creator) to dig in intensely on work that's more than a decade old, and as such, come face to face with that older self and how it fits in among newer work.  For a few days I was giggling at the juxaposition of the princess-wishing of "Love Story" with "No Body, No Crime", a song about murdering your besties cheating husband. Or the difference between something like "White Horse" and "Illicit Affairs" in their take on infidelity, the latter more nuancesd and sad, yet also somehow simpler.  The span of age from 19 to early 30's is one of the most treacherous, and the early songs while very enjoyable, definitely less complex emotionally than the latter.   

As someone who was writing crap when I was 19, and, in my early 30's just beginning to figure out how to be a better a writer, I'm envious that TS was doing so well even at that age, which made those 10-12 additional years even better for her. going forward as she moves into the middle years of life.   I sometimes look at my first book, published in 2006 when I was 32, and while I am proud of it and dont hate it too much, it still doesn't seem like me who wrote it.  Or that the writer I am now would have written it at all.  Other times I look at it and thing that it what I write now is planted there as seeds., so 15 years later is reaping those plantings. Sometimes I've wondered if I just rewriting the same poems just from different angles and in different lighting.  

The poet who write the poems in the fever almanac is not the poet who wrote major characters in minor films, though some of the themes are the same when it comes to romantic poems. Ditto with sex & violence. My last couple book projects have been less about relationships, but then again, my relationships have been much more stable, and as such, seem less rife with material.  The &nbsp project is the closest to talking about intimacy and loneliness, and talks about the past, but it's still just notes at this point. But those are using the same subject matter and experiences of earlier books with a new lens--I've been thinking of it as an exorcism of sorts.

But then again, all books feel like exorcisms of some sort of ghosts-major characters... and feed feel most like this (and as such, are the poems I feel weirdest about letting people in my real life read.) The other books are more narrative and therefore distanced from me as a person who exists in the world, whether it's the sideshow women of girl show or the women of salvage (barring the mermaid poems, which were closer to home at points.) The longer you write and the more things you put out in the world, the more people begin to build a framework of your own life independent of the actual art, as many scandalous posthumous biographies will attest. On the other hand, there is something to be said of leaving audiences guessing. 

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