A Better Week for Women, Taylor Swift and ‘The Lakes’

Last week I said I’d decided to delete all the draft posts I had backing up around here so that I could start again with a clean slate – Well, here is that clean slate, but already I’m torn between several blog ideas I’ve had over the last week, not all of them relating to music it must be said. I think I’m just going to have to accept that this blog has indeed morphed into something quite different from what was originally intended when I started out, but nothing wrong with that I suppose. There will always be a song(s) though, and that will never change.

I made no mention of it last weekend, but anyone watching the news that week will know it hadn’t been a good one for women. On International Women’s Day, a young, high-profile, mixed-race woman was lambasted and disbelieved by a white, middle-aged, male broadcaster (who trust me, could never have truly understood how she was feeling); the next day, the body of a murdered girl who had simply risked walking home on her own after dark, was found in Kent; at the weekend, those who met up for a peaceful vigil in the place where she had gone missing were found to be flouting covid restrictions, and there were ugly scenes of women being pinned to the ground and handcuffed by police.

As someone who comes from a long line of strong women who pretty much ran the show in their respective households (in a good way of course), I have always found it hard to personally relate to those who class themselves as feminists. Born at the start of the ’60s, by the time I reached adulthood all the hard work had been done (for which I am very grateful) and I have never felt that any barriers have been put in my way, other than those which were self-imposed. My working life was mainly in the public sector where the majority of my ‘bosses’ were always female, at one point all five departmental heads being of that gender. Life can be tough at various stages along the way, but if we all pulled together as a diverse group of humans (as opposed to humans with labels) it could all be so much easier. It seems we still have a way to go. As for walking home alone in the dark, it has always been something I’ve avoided unless absolutely necessary. It’s scary, for both sexes, and however much guidance is put out on how to make us feel less scared and vulnerable, I would always advise against it. Sad but true.

On the upside, the big winners at the Grammys this year were women, which was a first. Hopefully not purely down to a bias within the judging panel, so good to see. I haven’t been able to watch much of the show, but it seems it was all very covid-safe, which made it a bit of a different affair from the usual extravaganza. As Album Of The Year is usually the big one, here is something from Taylor Swift’s winning album folklore. The other ladies who did well were Beyoncé (she broke the record for all-time wins by a woman), Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion.

Taylor’s new album was a bit of a surprise, even to her, as it was conceived during lockdown in 2020, after her planned tour had to be postponed. She describes it as a collection of songs and stories that flowed like ‘a stream of consciousness’. It consists of mellow ballads telling stories rooted in escapism and romanticism reflecting her desire for the music to have a lasting legacy, akin to folk songs. This song, the lakes, was inspired by a holiday Taylor once had in that very beautiful region of England called The Lake District (with Harry Styles, another big winner at the Grammys).

Take me to the lakes where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong, and my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse

In carrying out a modicum of research for Taylor’s new album I discovered a term that is new to me, cottagecore, which is what the album’s artwork and aesthetic was based on. Apparently it reflects a movement that celebrates idealised rural life and is popular with Generation Z. It developed throughout the 2010s and values traditional skills and crafts such as baking and pottery. It’s obvious when trawling through the various television guides of an evening, that programmes championing such traditional crafts are very much in vogue and we ourselves really enjoyed the final of the Great Pottery Throw Down last weekend (won by a woman). I myself spent much of this last week finishing off some tiny garments I had knitted all the pieces for, but never got round to making up – As a stress-buster, crafting takes some beating and I felt really chuffed when they were finished. All I need now is for the button shop to open up again, and for some grandchildren to dress them in (but no pressure DD).

Spring flowers and teeny weeny garments

Yet again I’ve veered way off topic and haven’t got round to some of the other ideas I had for today. I have one or two ‘new series’ ideas which I hope to explore soon though, so watch this space as they say.

As for Taylor Swift, she has become one of the best-selling artists of all time, in a relatively short space of time. I remember her being interviewed on a breakfast telly show many years ago when she was still a teenager. A clearly talented youngster, she and her family had relocated from Pennsylvania to Nashville when she was aged only 14, so that the young Taylor could pursue her career in country music. It was 2008 and she had just released her second album Fearless which I know DD was a fan of, and I seem to have some songs from it in my digital library.

Love Story by Taylor Swift:

Taylor wrote Love Story about a relationship that was not popular among the narrator’s family and friends. A common theme for teens, and one that’s been around since time immemorial – Why she decided to relate the song to the plot of Romeo and Juliet. Luckily for the couple in question, she replaced the play’s original tragic conclusion with a happy ending. The song was a huge commercial success and received widespread critical acclaim. The start of big things for an artist who has been able to cross over into other genres, transcending her country roots. I wouldn’t be surprised if like Dolly Parton, she manages to stay relevant and popular for many decades to come.

As for me, my poorly ankle is well and truly on the mend, so not long now before I can get about without ‘the boot’. In the meantime, I feel a bit more crafting coming on. Mr WIAA got me some new balls of wool this morning so the cottagecore aesthetic certainly is alive and well in our house at the moment. As for Taylor Swift, I hope she’s enjoyed her foray into yet another new genre – I think it suits her. Also, bit of trivia, she was named after singer/songwriter James Taylor so that was a masterstroke by her parents as it’s obviously brought her good luck (although with her prodigious talent I don’t think she needed a bit of it).

Until next time…

the lakes lyrics
(Song by Taylor Swift)

Is it romantic how all my elegies eulogize me?
I’m not cut out for all these cynical clones
These hunters with cell phones

Take me to the lakes, where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong and, my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse

What should be over burrowed under my skin
In heart-stopping waves of hurt
I’ve come too far to watch some name-dropping sleaze
Tell me what are my Wordsworth

Take me to the lakes, where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong and, my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse

I want auroras and sad prose
I want to watch wisteria grow right over my bare feet
‘Cause I haven’t moved in years
And I want you right here
A red rose grew up out of ice frozen ground
With no one around to tweet it
While I bathe in cliff-side pools
With my calamitous love and insurmountable grief

Take me to the lakes, where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong and, my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse
No, not without you