The Weird Bits That Made Me: The Good Rats

Welcome To: The Weird Bits That Made Me, an exploration of the idiosyncratic or obscure pop culture that I was into as a kid. I lived a strange suburban existence, with relatively young and somewhat hip parents and there were some real gems in the offbeat cultural stuff they exposed us to as kids. I thought it would be fun to once a week explore some of that

Where to begin with The Good Rats? I suppose like anything, a basic explanation would do best. The Good Rats are (were?) a band, based out of Long Island, who were active in the late 60’s through the 70’s, recorded several studio albums, and never quite expanded beyond the Tri-State area, though again, my parents, and aunts and uncles, being of the correct age and musical temperament remained dedicated fans for, well, ever.

We spent our childhood listening through Tasty, the band’s third album over and over again, once again, because father picked it up on CD after seeing the guys play in bar one time.

Easily one of the best nights of my life (and probably many people related to me) involved The Good Rats, and that’s the story I want to tell here. Bizarrely and coincidentally, when The Allendale Bar And Grill, the only bar in the town where I grew up started bringing music acts in, they booked The Good Rats, a week before my Uncle Johnny turned 50.

Despite living in Chicago at the time, he insisted that his 50th birthday party be held at The AB & G for the show. We booked the upstairs room for dinner and got joyously drunk and then made our way downstairs to see the band play. Besides my many relatives who made the trek, we were also joined by several of my sister and brother in laws friends who also fell in love with this truly incredible Rock and Roll band.

We Are Very Drunk, and VERY YOUNG In This picture, and I beg everyone’s forgiveness
This is my favorite picture of my sister and me in existence. Including the lovely pictures from her wedding, where we actually look much better

A few months later, the Chris Kunisch owner and manager of The AB&G booked the band again and we all rolled out again. (An aside, The AB&G is currently operating with distanced indoor dining and a tented outdoor space, if you live anywhere near them, PLEASE stop by and grab some food and drink. This place has been around since The Great Depression, is family owned, and wonderful. They are the kind of place that communities desperately need, and also I love the family so very much)

About a year after those two nights, the lead singer, Peppi Marchello passed away, and in tribute, the band put together a showcase at BB King’s in midtown Manhattan, which we also attended. I’m still blown away by how much I love those nights, and how much I love the songs.

I am again blow away by our Youth in this picture. Especially Joe (Far Right). Who looks about 5

I listened to Tasty the other night to get back on my feet with this and the songs are good. They’re damn good.

Also, just as a singer, I’m in awe of Peppi’s voice, and it is an incredible instance of a scene just sticking with people. I wonder if in 20 years my kids and nieces and nephews will excitedly be introducing their friends to Coheed And Cambria or The Dear Hunter with the same fervor as we did The Good Rats.

If you want specific recommendations of where to start (and I really suggest you do): ALL of Tasty, just the whole damn thing, but especially the title track, “Get Back To My Music” and “Song Writer”. Also, “Advertisement In The Voice” and “Yellow Flower” both off of Ratcity In Blue, which are great, “Advertisement” in particular is a remarkable piece of song craft, just a lovely piece of longing and loneliness.

The Weird Bits That Made Me: Starlight Express

Welcome To: The Weird Bits That Made Me, an expoloration of the idiosyncratic or obscure pop culture that I was into as a kid. I lived a strange suburban existence, with relatively young and somewhat hip parents and there were some real gems in the offbeat cultural stuff they exposed us to as kids. It hought it would be fun to once a week explore some of that.

It’s kind of incredible how many of the things I love exist because an idiosyncratic creator was not allowed to adapt the work they really wanted. George Lucas made Star Wars because he was denied the rights to Flash Gordon, Alan Moore wrote Watchmen as a response to being denied control over the Charlton family of characters, Lucas again, with Steven Spielberg made Raiders Of The Lost Arc after being told that they were, under no circumstances going to allow Americans to make a James Bond movie. Guillermo Del Toro wrote Crimson Peak after Disney kept delaying his Haunted Mansion script. (I do still mourn for that one, I love Crimson Peak but I WANT THAT DEL TORO HM MOVIE!)

Starlight Express exists because Andrew Lloyd Webber really, really wanted to write a Thomas The Tank Engine musical. (Yes really) The powers that be that owned Thomas and his buddies flatly turned him down, so he made an even weirder choice and wrote a new story about sentient trains, their love lives (yes really), the deity they pray to (I think?), and some twenty years later, a family of Americans got cheap tickets to a London revival of the show while on vacation, and the rest is odd familial inside joke history.

I’m going to do my best to sum up the plot of Starlight Express, but I make no guarantees. It’s been years since I saw it, and also, it does not make a lot of sense. So, Starlight Express is the elaborate imaginings of “Control” a child who is playing with toy trains, and who’s squawking annoying voice narrates elements of the show. It’s the big train race week or whatever, and a bunch of international stereotype trains are getting ready to race. The reigning champion is the American Diesel Locomotive, Greaseball, who fulfills that very important Webber role of “guy who sings like Elvis.” On the sideline are Passenger cars, who are female coded, and want to hook up with the male coded engines. These include Pearl, an observation car, who is into, but embarassed by Rusty, an old steam engine, and Greaseball’s car of choice, Dinah, a dining car. (There are two others, but I don’t remember them) There are also some freight cars who act as Rusty’s buddies.

Rusty enters the race with Pearl, and also an electric train, Electra, shows up. Greaseball is threatened by Electra, and also Pearl ditches rusty for Electra. Rusty goes for advice to an EVEN OLDER steam engine, Papa, who tells Rusty to trust in the Starlight Express, a legendary God like train who rides the rails at night. After the first round of races, Papa dies, and Rusty, Electra and Greaseball and The British Train, I think? are in the finals. Electra ditches Pearl, who then goes to Greaseball for reasons? And then there’s another race, Rusty and Pearl get together, and Rusty wins in the end, YAY! They all sing a big gospel number to celebrate and then a Megamix to take their bows.

Also they’ve been on roller skates, the whole time. There are also lasers, so many lasers.

I saw this show when I was 10 and I was enamored of it. I loved it so much, you guys, and my siblings loved and my parents probably liked it fine, but completely indulged our love of it. I still like it better than Cats. (I am alone in this one, my siblings do not like it better than Cats.) It’s lower tier in Webber’s work for sure. (The high tier being Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Phantom Of The Opera, Evita and School Of Rock.) But there’s some strong stuff here that’s worth talking about.

The title track, “Starlight Express” is a really beautiful lullaby by way of power pop ballad. Greaseball’s intro solo, “Pumping Iron” is a super fun 50’s pastiche, and the regret duet from Greaseball and Electra “One Rock And Roll Too Many” will always make me smile and I can imagine being the kind of song performers love tackling. I’ll also always have a soft spot for the straight up Weird Al level parody of Dinah’s act 2 lament, “U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D” which is the kind of country breakup song everyone should appreciate even without knowing Tammy Wynette’s brilliant, “D.I.V.O.R.C.E.D” but you should also listen to that song because it rules. Pearl’s ballads, “He’ll Whistle At Me,” and “Make Up My Heart” are serviceable but not up to snuff with Webber’s better female lead songs, and the Act 2 Duet, “Next Time You Fall In Love,” is a sweet reunion for our leads.

Nearly all of the character songs do their work, but often feel like soft runners up to similar songs from Joseph, or *sigh* Cats. (It is interesting that the one unmitigated favorite from Cats that I have is “Skimbleshanks The Railway Cat” which is about trains.)

Overall this is a straight nostalgia pick for me. I know it’s not particularly good by any critical measure, but it is immensely popular in Europe, ran for a while in Vegas, and toured in the States for a bit. Some of these songs really hit the sweet spot for me, and the out and out bonkers level of the production and story are a lot of fun. Also, I think this was the beginning of me just loving highest level musical theater, no matter who crappy the show I’m seeing is. My weird attachment to The Pirate Queen and Rocky The Musical are the fruit of this seed.

Also, I will always give credit to my friend Ali, who once noted, “It is not strange that Webber wrote Starlight Express. He’s a weird dude. It is utterly bizarre that men in suits somewhere gave him money to mount it.”

I for one am so grateful that they did.

The Weird Bits That Made Me: Julian Dawson, Travel On

Welcome To: The Weird Bits That Made Me, an expoloration of the idiosyncratic or obscure pop culture that I was into as a kid. I lived a strange suburban existence, with relatively young and somewhat hip parents and there were some real gems in the offbeat cultural stuff they exposed us to as kids. It hought it would be fun to once a week explore some of that.

There are certain moments when I remember how young my parents were when they married, settled and had the three of us. By the time my mother was my age she’d been with her life partner for twelve years, married for eight of those, and had three children.

So it becomes less weird when the musical touchstones of my childhood, beyond their teenage boomer staples, include stuff like Green Day, Blues Traveler, The Wallflowers.

But beyond even that, comes the fact that my parents were still heading to rock clubs and listening to bar bands well into my childhood. One time, after a trip to New York City’s The Bottom Line (now closed, but a favorite of my dad’s) they came back with a CD from a British, Indie Signed Singer Songwriter named Julian Dawson called Travel On.

We listened to this CD A LOT as kids. It was one of those that just stuck around in my mom’s car, and unlike a lot of the transitive stuff my dad picked up in his 30’s, was actually really good.

And then, when streaming came along, I made the decision to search Mr. Dawson (I still haven’t dove into his other work though I probably should, based on my adult tastes, I’d probably dig his shit). And today, we’re going to talk about the album, Travel On, which came out in 1995 and I listened to regularly probably until about 2003.

First things first, this ablum is super 90’s. It’s that odd combination of male yearning, 60’s nostalgia, daddy issues, and a vague social conscious, plus synths and acoustic guitars.

I forgot how deeply in my brain these songs were until I listened to them again, and how my favorites from when I was a kid are still the ones I prefer, despite getting most of them more. But were I to curate the album (which isn’t long) I’d probably still stick to the opening track, “Travel On,” the fun and propulsive, “Just Can’t Say No,” the 90’s-tastic depression ballad, “Sigh Heart, Don’t Break,” and the lovely parental loss song, “You’re Listening Now,” and the werido folk style story song, “Queen Of The Bayou.”

I’m less into the exhortation of shallow tourism as colonialism, “New Columbus” which includes the eye rolling insight, “Columbus has a credit card, he’s traded in his cross. The King and Queen of Nicotine still guarantee the profit and loss.” I’d liked this song as a kid because it is pretty catchy. Knowing a little bit more about how music works, it has a pretty fun guitar riff and some neat harmonica work. There are a few other songs that are very much about heartbreak and betrayal that I get more as an adult, but are also just, still not my thing.

Julian Dawson’s entire discography is on Spotify and while I don’t know if I can recommend this entire album, I would DEFINITELY say that I think people should at the very least listen to “You’re Listening Now,” which is the kind of raw and beautiful piano ballad that I will just never be able to resists. A sample of the lyrics:

The strong and silent teacher,

You let the music talk

I learned to sing in harmony

As soon as I could walk

But trying to please everybody on Earth’s

Not an easy thing to do

When all the time I was only try to please you

I mean, dude, I am not made out of stone. That is some heartbreaking shit.

I was a little nervous to go back to this one, because it was SO odd, and also because I didn’t know if it would hold up at all, but it really did, and also is a bit of a Rosetta Stone into the kind of music I got into later. I’ve always been into this kind of lyric heavy acoustic pop-rock, and I think this album has some influence on that.

I’m hoping to get one of these done a week. I have a decent list of stuff that I’d like to talk about. It’s going to be fun.

Magical Movies Tour: The Princess And The Frog

Isn’t it nice when the stars align and an important movie is also a good one?

The Princess And The Frog earns the first distinction, “important,” by being the last hand drawn animated feature from Walt Disney Animation and for it’s black, working class leading lady. Tiana is a waitress for New Orleans, who after being raised by a bus driver and seamstress, has worked her whole life to open her own restaurant.

She crosses paths with Prince Naveen who is transformed by the wicked Dr. Faccillier into a frog and then because they didn’t follow the rules explicitly (Tiana is not a princess) she turns into a frog rather than him turning back into a man.

It’s, more than a little convoluted when you write it out, but presented visually, Tiana and Naveen’s journey through 1920’s Louisiana is a delightful rom-com, opposites attract romp, punctuated by super fun character designs, and some catchy tunes by Randy Newman.

I really love this movie, and every time I watch it I’m only more enamored. There’s some stuff that I think could have used another pass. (There’s no real connection between Tiana and Dr. Facillier, for example, this feels like an odd error.) And as I get older and more interested in social justice narratives in popular culture, I am in awe of the decisions made with this film. Tiana is in complete control of her destiny from minute one, but this doesn’t prevent conflict or growth. There’s a variety of black faces and bodies on display, the music, that slow New Orleans style jazz is so much fun.

I’m generally on board with The Princess And The Frog getting more attention whenever possible, and am thus super excited for the upcoming retheme of Splash Mountain to a Princess And The Frog ride. I think it’s a brilliant decision that also means we’re going to get Louis Audio Animatronic, which I think fits into Imagineering’s sweet spot perfectly. Also, replacing an attraction based around something super racist, with something based around a strong and exciting Black female protagonist sends the right message.

Next time we continue down the path of magical princesses ,and see the light with Tangled. 

 

Magical Movies Tour: Fantasia 2000

Watching Fantasia woke up something inside of me. I think it’s an incredibly special piece of art, interesting and idiosyncratic and unique. It was also a deep financial failure for Disney Studios and despite years of trying, Walt’s desire for a sequel never got off the ground. When Roy Disney took over, it became his dream to chase and, based on the reading I’ve done this year, really bugged the crap out of everyone else at the company.

The result of that war (besides Michael Eisner losing his job and Bob Iger becoming a thing) is Fantasia 2000, which is an interesting beast, and nowhere near as lovely as it’s predecessor. Choosing a slate of new pieces and remastering “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” the film is presented much more like a splashy symphonic event concert, complete with celebrity introductions and projection screens.

It is nowhere near as charming and the work on display feels a good deal less magical.

I liked a few of the pieces more than others. Interpreting “Rhapsody in Blue” as a bustling day in 1930s New York, drawn in the style of Al Hirschfeld is inspired and the resulting piece is a lot of fun to watch. “The Firebird” is interesting if imperfect and “Pomp And Circumstance” is a lovely little fable that features my good friend Donald.

At the bottom of the barrel is probably “The Pines of Rome” where several blue whales migrate and jump out of the water. While I’m sure this sequence seemed really cool on Imax screens in 2000, now the CGI looks dated and there’s no majesty on my home tv.

The celebrity narrators are well chosen and acquit themselves well, but still feel, off, I guess?

Next week, we’re talking about Dinosaur, which I genuinely cannot remember if I’ve ever watched before.

The Ten Album Challenge

If you’re on Facebook. (Which I am. Too Much) you’ve probably seen the following coming out of your friends and family lately.

I’ve been nominated by *Insert Name Here* to post 10 albums, 1 per day for the next 10 days which MOST influence my musical taste, without any caption or explanation. I’m gonna tag a friend each day to share the same.

Well, 10 days ago, my sister Mary tagged me to do it, and since what I do, like all the time is talk about the media and art that has influenced me and hit me and made me happy throughout my life, the “no explanation” part was hard for me. So I journaled the explanation and I will now be sharing those quick paragraphs with you.

Day 1: Green Day Dookie

Dookie

This is the album that taught me the glory of basic, 3 chords and some angst rock and roll. So much came to be because of this love and I still, to this day, will turn up the volume when a song from this comes on. (Hell, “Basketcase” came on the radio on Sunday and I cranked it and rolled down the windows.) This isn’t even getting into the “hidden track,” which is stoner humor perfection. “And did I mention…I was all by myself,” still makes me giggle.

Day 2 – Backstreet Boys Millenium

Millenium

This is the album that made me fall in love with pop music. It also happens to have the three best songs ever recorded by a boy band, “I want it that Way,” “The One,” and “Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely.” I will defend the music of this time forever, I will not however, defend the haircuts.

Day 3: Sara McLachlan “Mirrorball”

Mirrorball

I like people singing sad songs with pianos. I don’t know why, but I do. I think a big part of it was being 11 when this album hit. But I also love live albums, especially from eras I missed. I was too young to really experience the whole Lillith Faire thing, but I’ve always loved the soft acoustic energy of that festival.

Day 4: Zac Brown Band Uncaged

Uncaged

I have a deep appreciation of musical artists who think genre is bullshit, and the person who I think does this the best is Zac Brown. He’s a country artist who refuses to discount his rock and roll roots for the poppier Nashville sounds, and Uncaged is the album that made me fall wildly in love with his ability to use romantic imagery to tell classic country stories. (“She’s a natural disaster, she’ll tear the land in two. She’s running to be running but that’s all that’s left for you.”)

Day 5: Original London Cast Recording Les Miserables

Les Mis

Look, choosing what Showtune to put on this list was practically impossible, so I went with my earliest memory, and Patti Lupone. Also, “One Day More.”

Day 6: Bruce Springsteen The River

The_River_(Bruce_Springsteen)_(Front_Cover)

This is the Springsteen that I love the most, the party song mixed in with the heartfelt ballad storyteller. I love Springsteen infinitely, but this album is my favorite, the one that clicked for me as a kid, understanding why exactly it is that my family worships this man.

Day 7 Coheed And Cambria Second Stage Of The Turbine Blade

Second Stage Of The Turbine Blade

There’s a piece of wisdom out there, which is, “you will always think the music you loved when you were 14 is the best.” And for the most part, this list isn’t that (it actually skews a bit younger) but I was 14 when Second Stage Of The Turbine Blade imprinted on me, and Coheed And Cambria came to be everything to me. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before and I’m still chasing that high by seeing them play live every year. (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let Manhattan be having concerts in September!)

Day 8: Billy Joel Songs In The Attic

Songs In The Attic

My father gave us all the incredible gift of loving the B side. Movies that weren’t quite hits, songs that didn’t make it on the radio, restaurants that you have to walk a little bit from the main tourist drag to get to. Songs In The Attic is that impulse contained in an album, a collection of songs that Billy loved, but hated the album cuts of, and that the record company wouldn’t promote. So he made an album of the live versions, and they’re perfection. “Miami 2017” and my favorite song ever “Summer, Highland Falls” make appearances too, so I can’t complain.

Day 9: The Postal Service Give Up

Give Up

Deciding whether to go with Give Up or Ben Gibbard’s other band, Death Cab For Cutie’s Plans, I realized quickly that in addition to the fact that I still listen to Give Up, in it’s entirety regularly. It also opened a whole world for me, as a teenager, to that whole synth based, indie rock world. (Basically the other thing up for this entry was the Garden State soundtrack. That whole scene)

Day 10: Carole King Tapestry

Tapestry

I am a white woman who loves rock and roll, to not include Carole king would be beyond strange. (Much like she isn’t in the hall of fame! WHY NOT? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?) Anyway, this album is the best, and everyone should listen to it all the time.

Anyway, those are my 10 albums and some little entries explaining why I chose them! Hope everyone is staying safe, still. Love you all so much.

 

Third Time’s A Charm – Be Our Guest NYC

The incredible Captain Awkward,an advice writer who I’ve been following for the past few years, has stated that when attempting to meet new friends as an adult you should find a recurring event that sparks your interest and go three times, no matter what. Three times, decide if it’s right for you, if you fit in.

Back in June, I got a Facebook notification, in the “events near you” section for “Be Our Guest: A Disney DJ Night,” the even was taking place that Friday, and the event description appealed to me, an evening where a bunch of people wore costumes and drank and sang along and danced to Disney music.

Yes, I couldn’t have designed a better evening myself. I texted Aless and asked if she wanted to come, she gave a hearty “OF COURSE” and we went. We had an absolute ball, talked to some great people, haunted a diner until 5 am and stumbled back to Aless’s apartment at 6 giggling.

It was incredible. In September, I went back. Aless was back in Colombia visiting her mother, but I thought about that 3 times thing, and I bought the ticket and went by myself this time. It was, again, unreal. I was immediately surrounded by people I felt connected to. I sang and danced and again, found myself in a diner at five in the morning laughing about everything and nothing.

This past weekend, I got my third shot. I laced myself into my black Ariel As A Human Corset, I hopped on a late train, and walked into the Gramercy Theater on 23rd Street and danced and sang my face off and had just, the absolute best time. (Aless came again this round).

Trying to explain why this event has gotten so inside of me is tough. It’s just a strange intersection of things that I really love. The cosplay and Disney songs are nice trappings, but what I really love about it is communal. It’s the part that gets me sitting in a diner talking to new friends until 5 in the morning. The part that I lost a lot of when I outgrew a group of friends. Getting a taste of that, even if it’s only one night every few months is nourishing. 

So anyway, I’m in on this event now, I’ve found people I care for very much there, and I hope to be as much of a regular there as I can. I’m also going to try to hang out with the people I’ve met there in other spaces. But even if those friendships never quite make it past the late night disco fries and milk shakes stage, I’m grateful for it.

Magical Movies Tour: Fun And Fancy Free

“Mickey and The Beanstalk” is a full stop perfect Disney Classic, doing some things that Walt did best in story telling, reinterpreting a classic fairy tale, incorporating the Mouse and his friends in ways that are both creative and satisfying. It’s also funny, has some neat music and cool character designs.

The rest of Fun And Fancy Free doesn’t quite live up. The title song performed by Jiminy Cricket is a delight, but the first short “Bongo The Circus Bear” is interesting but goes on too long and ends in a bizarre bear dance number about slapping to prove love. The middle segment is a showcase for veltriloquist Edgar Bergen, who is very talented and also narrates the Beanstalk portion, it’s quite a non sequiter, and doesn’t quite do it for me, despite Bergen obvious talent for a mostly lost art form.

But wow, I love “Mickey And The Beanstalk,” especially the opening segment which shows the depths to which Mickey, Donald and Goofy have sunk, with Mickey slicing that bean three ways to make sandwiches on bread sliced thin enough to be transparent is comic genius, as is Donald’s subsequent blow up. Willy the Giant is also a great deal of fun and the singing harp does the job as well as possible.

Seriously, I’m enjoying these anthologies much more than I thought I would. I was kind of dreading this month, and I actually burned through all of them in a weekend (giving myself a nice little cushion going into warmer weather!) and I will probably be revisiting them for casual cleaning the apartment or cooking type viewing. They’re such a delight!

Next week, we continue down this path with Melody Time, will I continue to love these? All signs point to yes!

Magical Movies Tour: The Three Caballeros

What a weird, trippy, again kinda racist, delight of a film! I’ve always been a fan of the Cabelloros, from Disney World and from those Disney Sing-a-Long videos, but had never watched the full film.

Again, we have a series of shorts, this time much more connected than Saludos Amigos. Donald receives a gift and it turns out to be a magical film meant to introduce him to his cousins from South America. He learns about some different birds, before making his way to Brasil, where hey look! Jose Carrioca is waiting for him! The two friends happily dance and sing in Brasil, and then wind up in Mexico, where they meet Panchito Pistoles. They hop on their magical sarape (I said, kinda racist) and fly about Mexico, singing, dancing, Donald hits on lots of pretty girls, and then finds his way home.

It’s just delightful, neon colored, displaying early attempts at integrating live footage and animation and seriously, the songs in this one are so much fun. Also, I just adore Jose and Panchito, and I’ve already explained that Donald is my favorite of the Fab Five. So I was just thrilled to watch the movie.

And as it descended into trippy madness, I was even happier. Singers become flowers, with singers faces, Donald skips around a technocolor wonderland while Jose and Panchito look on fondly. All three fly off on a magical serape.

Again, sometimes things just need to be what they are, and this is a silly cartoon about singing birds with some fun songs sung by Mexican singers. And this executes that conceit perfectly. It’s less “educational” than it’s brother production, and all the better for it.

Next week we discuss Fun And Fancy Free, we’re skipping Make Mine Music because it isn’t on Disney+ (bizarrely) and I don’t feel like chasing it down.

Ms. Americana: Pop Songs & Finding Your Power

I love Taylor Swift.

I love her music, I love the way she snuck into the void Madonna left behind while none of us were looking because ten other pop stars were vying for the spot (She is not as good as Madonna, I haven’t completely lost my mind), I love that she’s in control of her image as much as she possibly can be. I love that I grew up with her (Taylor is two years younger than I am, but I’ve always been a late bloomer and she’s kind of a old soul.)

All that said, I don’t know if Miss Americana is a good documentary. Taylor is an vulnerable as she can be, I think, but she’s had walls up for so long, and she seems to be doing the hard slow work of taking them down rather than letting them crash, figuring out which ones are useful and which ones are limiting. That’s probably healthier but not nearly as much fun.

The movie builds a complicated picture of a woman is who is just starting to realize who she is, she notes that she’d been frozen at the age she got famous (16) and had a lot of catching up to do. Which is why her devastation that her political stand in 2018 wasn’t enough reads as sincere rather than ego. She was 27, but closer to 18 in maturity and you think your voice can really change the world then, and to be fair, Taylor Swift actually might be able to move the needle. (Apparently after she started insisting on voting young registration in Tennessee went up like 16% or something).

The film really shines when they show Taylor writing music, and working on music. Chowing down on burritos with her producer, giggling with Brandon Urie in dorky icon perfection, shouting to Jack Antonoff that she forgot the words to “Endgame.” She’s herself in that work, and it’s stunning to see.

I really enjoyed this documentary, but as I mentioned up top, I love Taylor Swift. I’d be curious what someone who either actively dislikes her or is indifferent to her and what they’d think. I think it’s just partly having tracked her life for so long that nothing really blew me away. The eating disorder confession is probably the only new information, but even that I got, “Oh yeah, that tracks.” Also her 2016 sit out was mental health related, apparently. After her final dust up with Kim and Kanye she realized her relationship with the media and the public was toxic and she needed to reset, which is marginally interesting.

Also, you remember the curls and the cat eye makeup? That was a whole thing for a while and I’m really glad she moved on style wise because OOF. (I spent HOURS trying to get my hair to do those curls though.) I also totally spent the rest of the weekend listening to Taylor Swift and watched The Reputation concert again.