meta-script7 Things We Learned At The GRAMMY Museum's 'The Power Of Women In Country Music' Exhibit | GRAMMY.com
'The Power Of Women In Country Music' Exhibit Photo
Items on display at the GRAMMY Museum's 'The Power Of Women In Country Music' Exhibit in Los Angeles.

Photo: Courtesy of the Recording Academy/Rebecca Sapp for Getty Images

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7 Things We Learned At The GRAMMY Museum's 'The Power Of Women In Country Music' Exhibit

Artifacts from Taylor Swift, Dolly Parton and more shine at the new exhibit, which celebrates the role of women in one of music’s oldest genres.

GRAMMYs/Jun 7, 2022 - 11:34 pm

"The Power Of Women In Country Music" exhibit opened May 27 at the GRAMMY Museum in downtown Los Angeles, and it's a must-see for any lover of country music, strong women, or the history of the recording industry at large. 

Encompassing almost 100 years of female-led folk or hillbilly music, the exhibit looks at the evolution of what it means to be a woman in the country genre — from its first pioneers to today's generation of future stars. 

Whether you're a fan of Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Maybelle Carter, or Kelsea Ballerini, you'll find something to love at "The Power Of Women." Full of stage-worn costumes, hand-written lyrics sheets, and well-loved instruments, the exhibit will allow visitors to see relics such as Taylor Swift's stage props and Patsy Cline's dress made by her mother. 

There's lots to learn, too. You can get to know tones of instruments like the autoharp, or explore the early plight of women in country music, when the industry was a bit more concerned with style than substance. 

The exhibit will run through Sun. Oct. 2. Whether you are hoping to check it out yourself or just curious what it's all about, here are some of the biggest takeaways from "The Power Of Women In Country Music" at the GRAMMY Museum.

The Arc Of Women In Country Music Is Long

Long before country music was recorded, women were helping define its sound, whether it was through strumming a banjo on a front porch or belting out a twangy traditional in church.

In 1927, the Carter Family's Maybelle and Sara Carter made the first country music recordings featuring women. That doesn't mean the doors busted wide open in their wake — women were still mainly shuffled into roles primarily as family caregivers and support staff for their working husbands. 

That started to change a bit after World War II, when artists like Patsy Cline and Rose Maddox started to make waves by crossing over onto the pop charts. But the real heyday of women in country music didn't come until perhaps the late '80s or early '90s, when stars like Reba McEntire and Shania Twain became truly international superstars. 

Many, many women helped pave the road along the way, and "The Power Of Women In Country Music" helps celebrate their stories.

Read More: 5 Women Essential To Country Music: Dolly Parton, Mickey Guyton, Jo Walker-Meador, The Love Junkies & Mother Maybelle Carter

"The Singing Cowgirl" Deserves More Credit

Everyone knows about Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, but in the mid-'30s, female country artists like Patsy Montana, Rose Maddox, and The Girls Of The Golden West found success as "singing cowgirls." (In fact, as her part of the exhibit details, Montana was the first female country singer to sell a million records.)  

Dressed in fringed skirts, bolero vests, and wide-brimmed Stetson hats, singing cowgirls reminded Depression-struck America that it was still possible to be determined, optimistic, and in charge of their own destiny — even when things didn't always seem so bright. 

Fun fact: The success of singing cowgirls and their male counterparts is part of the reason that the genre eventually became called "Country & Western."

There's More To Country Music Than Just Being On Stage

Many women have made their mark in country music through songwriting rather than through performance. There's some crossover, of course — Dolly Parton and Maren Morris broke into the industry by writing songs for others before finding their own success — but women like Jessie Jo Dillon, Laura Veltz, and Liz Rose have become country powerhouses because of the power of their pens rather than their voices. 

That makes a lot of sense, given how much Nashville values the craft of songwriting. "The Power Of Women" contains handwritten lyrics for songs like Diane Warren's "How Do I Live" (made famous by LeAnn Rimes) and Dan + Shay's "Tequila," which was co-written by Nicolle Galyon, who has co-written nine other no. 1 hits as well as Miranda Lambert's GRAMMY-nominated "Automatic." 

Read More: 10 Songs You Didn't Know Dolly Parton Wrote: Hits By Whitney Houston, Kenny Rogers & More

Country Women Can Be Stronger Together

Among country's singular female stars like Dolly, Reba, and Shania, the exhibit reminds that some of the genre’s biggest women acts have found strength and success in groups. The Judds and the Chicks had massive success in the '80s and '90s, respectively;  today, groups like the Pistol Annies and the Highwomen create songs and sounds that mesmerize and mystify. 

Those groups are also often made up of powerhouse acts in their own right, like Dolly Parton, Linda Rondstandt, and Emmylou Harris' Trio, and the Pistol Annies' Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angeleena Presley. Visitors to "The Power Of Women" exhibit can check out the Pistol Annies' fun nameplates ("Lonestar Annie," "Hippie Annie" and "Holler Annie"), as well as the outfits the trio wore on the cover of their 2021 Christmas album, Hell Of A Holiday

Country's Females Have Always Pushed Genre Limits

Starting in the '70s and '80s, a group of female musicians emerged that would challenge what it meant to be a country music star. Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and Rosanne Cash blurred the lines between country and rock, while Alison Krauss broke into bluegrass's boys club. 

"The Power Of Women" pays tribute to those pioneers with a display case containing, among other things, the beautifully embroidered, Manuel-created boots Harris wore on the cover of 1979's excellent Blue Kentucky Girl

The exhibit also tips its hat to genre-crossing artists like Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and Taylor Swift, all of whom crossed over into the pop and rock spheres, pushing both the boundaries of what country music could be and drawing new fans to the genre.

Even Taylor Swift Used To Buy Off The Rack

Some of the most interesting artifacts in "The Power Of Women" exhibit are the stage and video-worn outfits sent from the closets of country's biggest stars. There are two looks from Dolly Parton set on mannequins that really let viewers know just how tiny she really is. One — a red and pink high-necked dress — was worn by Parton on the cover of 1972's Together Always with Porter Wagoner

One of the sweetest garments on display in "The Power Of Women" is also one of its most understated: An orange cotton day dress made in the '50s or early '60s for Patsy Cline by her mother, Hilda Hensley. Cline died in a plane crash in 1962, when she was just 30, and the dress is a bittersweet reminder of how young she was, and how close she remained with her family.

Taylor Swift sent over four outfits, including one worn on stage at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards. The other three outfits were worn in various music videos, like 2008's "Tim McGraw," which found Swift and her stylist pulling from racks at BCBGIRLS and Betsey Johnson to create the starlet's on-screen look. 

Speaking of GRAMMY-worn outfits, Shania Twain fans will certainly recognize the satin suit/gown and top hat that Twain wore for both the "Man! I Feel Like A Woman" music video and on stage at the 41st Annual GRAMMY Awards. It sits not too far from one of Faith Hill's actual GRAMMY statues, her Best Female Country Vocal Performance gramophone she won for “Cry” in 2003.

Country's Female Future Is Strong

"The Power Of Women" devotes considerable space to women that might not yet be household names, but who have a strong chance at becoming country's next big stars. It's an incredibly diverse group of artists — something country music hasn't always been known for — including Black women like Reyna Roberts and Brittney Spencer, Mexican-American artists like Leah Turner, and stars who have risen from TV competitions, like The Voice's Danielle Bradbery. 

The exhibit even highlights acts from outside of the U.S. who have found their way to country music, like the U.K.'s Yola, proving that the genre is only growing in popularity and reach — with women continuing to break the mold. 

10 Things We Learned At "An Evening With LeAnn Rimes" At The GRAMMY Museum

Taylor Swift Songbook Hero
(L-R) Taylor Swift in 2023, 2008 and 2012.

Photos (L-R): Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management, Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Clear Channel

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Songbook: An Era-By-Era Breakdown Of Taylor Swift's Journey From Country Starlet To Pop Phenomenon

Before the arrival of Taylor Swift's 'The Tortured Poets Department,' take a deep dive into her discography and see how each album helped her become the genre-shifting superstar she is today.

GRAMMYs/Apr 17, 2024 - 08:40 pm

The world now knows Taylor Swift as a global pop superstar, but back in 2006, she was just a doe-eyed country prodigy. Since then, she's released 10 (and soon to be 11) studio albums, re-recorded four as "Taylor's Version," and cultivated one of the most feverish fan bases in music. Oh, and she's also won 14 GRAMMY Awards, including four for Album Of The Year — the most ever won by an artist.

Swift has become one of music's most notable shapeshifters by refusing to limit herself to one genre, moving between country, pop, folk and beyond. A once-in-a-lifetime generational storyteller, one could argue that she is music's modern-day maverick, constantly evolving both her music and the culture around her.

Every album era has seen Swift reinvent herself over and over, which has helped pave the way for artists to explore other musical avenues. In turn, Swift hasn't just become one of the biggest artists of all time — she's changed pop music altogether.

Ahead of Taylor Swift's newest era with The Tortured Poets Department, GRAMMY.com looks back on all of her albums (Taylor's Versions not included) and how each era shaped her remarkable career.

Taylor Swift: Finding Her Place In Music

In a genre dominated by men, the odds were already stacked against Swift when she first broke into country music as a teenage female artist. The thing that differentiated her from other writers — and still does to this day — is her songwriting. She didn't want to be just "another girl singer" and knew writing her own songs would be what set her apart. 

Written throughout her adolescence, Taylor Swift was recorded at the end of 2005 and finalized by the time Swift finished her freshman year of high school. Serving as a snapshot of Swift's life and teenhood, she avoided songwriting stereotypes typically found in country music. Instead, she wanted to capture the years of her life while they still represented what she was going through, writing about what she was observing and experiencing, from love and friendship to feeling like an outsider. 

As a songwriter, Taylor Swift set the tone for what would be expected of her future recordings — all songs were written by her, some solely and others with one or two co-writers. One writer in particular, Liz Rose, applauded Swift's songwriting capabilities, stating that she was more of an "editor" for the songs because Swift already had such a distinct vision. 

The album's lead single, "Tim McGraw," an acoustic country ballad inspired by Swift knowing her relationship was going to end, represents an intricate part of Swift's songwriting process; meticulously picking apart her emotions to better understand them. With its follow-up, "Our Song" — which spent six consecutive weeks on the top of Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart — she became the youngest person to solely write and sing a No. 1 country single; she also became the first female solo artist in country music to write or co-write every song on an album. 

Although Swift's eponymous debut is underappreciated now — even lacking its own set on Swift's Eras TourTaylor Swift's forthcoming rerecording is arguably the most anticipated by fans, who are eager to hear the songs with the singer's current and more refined vocals. Still, for fans who haven't properly explored Taylor Swift, it's easy to tie together Swift's earlier work to her current discography. 

On the track "A Place In This World," a song she wrote when she was just 13, Swift sings about not fitting in and trying to find her path. While her songwriting has developed and matured, feeling like an outsider and carving her own path is a theme she still writes about now, as seen on Midnights' "You're On Your Own, Kid." 

Even as a new country artist, critics claimed that she "mastered" the genre while subsequently ushering it to a new era — one that would soon see Swift dabble in country-pop. 

Fearless: Creating A Different Kind Of Fairytale

If Taylor Swift was the soundtrack to navigating the early stages of teenhood, Fearless is Swift's coming-of-age record. More than its predecessor, Fearless blurs the line between country and pop thanks to crossover hits like "Love Story" and "You Belong With Me," yet still keeps the confessional attributes known in country songwriting. 

Most of Fearless is Swift coming to terms with what she believed love to be. On the album's liner notes, Swift says Fearless is about "living in spite" of the things that scare you, like falling in love again despite being hurt before or walking away and letting go. The 2008 version of Taylor wanted to "believe in love stories and prince charmings and happily ever after," whereas in Swift's Fearless (Taylor's Version) liner notes, she looks back on the album as a diary where she was learning "tiny lessons" every time there was a "new crack in the facade of the fairytale ending she'd been shown in the movies." 

Much of Fearless also sees Swift being reflective and nostalgic about adolescence, like in "Never Grow Up" and "Fifteen." Still wistful and romantic, the album explores Swift's hopes for love, as heard in the album's lead single "Love Story," which was one instance where she was "dramatizing" observations instead of actually experiencing them herself. 

Unlike the slow-burn of Taylor Swift, Fearless went straight to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and stayed there for eight consecutive weeks. It won Swift's first Album Of The Year GRAMMY in 2010, at the time making her the youngest person to win the accolade at age 20. To date, it has sold 7.2 million copies in America alone. It might not be the romantic tale Swift dreamed of growing up, but her sophomore album signalled that bigger things were to come.

Speak Now: Proving Her Songwriting Prowess

Everything that happened after the success of Fearless pushed Swift from country music's best-kept secret to a mainstream star. But this meant that she faced more publicity and criticism, from naysayers who nitpicked her songwriting and vocals to the infamous Kanye West incident at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

For the first time since becoming an artist, she was forced to reckon with the concept of celebrity and how turning into one — whether she wanted it or not — informed her own writing and perception of herself. No longer was she the girl writing songs like "Fifteen" in her bedroom — now she was working through becoming a highly publicized figure. Speak Now is the answer to those growing pains. 

Along with having more eyes on her, Swift also felt pressured to maintain her persona as a perfect young female role model amid a time when her peers like Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato were attempting to rebrand to be more mature and sexier. During her NYU commencement speech in 2022, she reflected on this era of her life as one of intense fear that she could make a mistake and face lasting consequences, so the songs were masked in metaphors rather than directly addressing adult themes in her music. But that also resulted in some of her most poignant lyrics to date.

Read More: For The Record: How Taylor Swift's 'Speak Now' Changed Her Career — And Proved She'll Always Get The Last Word

Writing the entire album herself, Swift used Speak Now to prove her songwriting prowess to those who questioned her capabilities. Much like her previous two albums, Swift included songs that were both inspired by her own life and being a fly on the wall. The album's title track pulled from the saying, "Speak now or forever hold your peace," inspired by a friend's ex-boyfriend getting engaged; meanwhile, "Mean" was everything Swift wanted to say to a critic who was continuously harsh about her vocals.

Retrospective and reflective, Speak Now is an album about the speeches she could've, would've and should've said. From addressing the aforementioned VMA incident in the forgiving "Innocent" to a toxic relationship in "Dear John," Speak Now also hinted that her rose-colored glasses were cracked, but Swift (and her songwriting) was only becoming stronger because of it.

Red: Coming Into Her Own

Highly regarded as Swift's magnum opus, Red sees the singer shed the fairytale dresses and the girl-next-door persona to craft a body of work that has now been deemed as her first "adult" record. On Red, Swift focused on emotions evoked from a hot-and-cold relationship, one that forced her to experience "intense love, intense frustration, jealousy and confusion" — all feelings that she'd describe as "red." 

Unlike most of her previous writing that had been inspired by happy endings and fairytales, Red explores the lingering pain and loss that can embed itself within despite trying your hardest to let go. In her liner notes, she references Pablo Neruda's poem "Tonight I Can Write," stating that "Love is so short, forgetting is so long" is the overarching theme for the album. She plays with time — speeding it up in "Starlight," dabbling in the past in "All Too Well," and reframing it in "State of Grace" — to better understand her experiences. 

After releasing country-pop records, Red toed the line between genres more than ever before. Swift leaned further into the full pop territory by working with esteemed producers Max Martin and Shellback for the dubstep-leaning track "I Knew You Were Trouble," the punchy lead single "We Are Never Getting Back Together," and the bouncy anthem "22." But even when the pop power players weren't involved, her country stylings still leaned more pop across the album, as further evidenced with the racing deep cut "Holy Ground" and the echoing title track. 

The slight change of direction became polarizing for critics and fans alike. Following the more country-influenced Speak Now, some critics and fans found the pop songs on Red were too pop and the lyrics were too repetitive, possibly indicating that she might be selling out. If that wasn't enough, Red became an era where Swift's personal life went from speculation to tabloid fodder, with misogynistic headlines and diluting her work to just "writing about her exes." It's an era that would eventually inspire many tracks on Red's successor, 1989, like "Blank Space" and "Shake It Off."

Commercially, Red debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and sold 1.2 million copies in its first week, becoming the fastest-selling country album and making Swift the first female artist to have three consecutive albums spend six or more weeks at the top of the chart. The impact of Red extended beyond its own success, too. Often mentioned as a record that inspired a generation of artists from Troye Sivan to Conan Gray, Swift's confessional, soul-bearing authenticity set a new standard for straightforward pop music. 

1989: Reinventing Into A Pop Genius

The night Red lost the GRAMMY for Album Of The Year in 2014, Swift decided that her next album would be a full-on pop record. After years of identifying as a country artist and flirting with pop, Swift departed her roots to reinvent herself, no matter what her then-label or critics had to say. And in true Swiftian fashion, turning into a pop artist didn't just prove her genre-shapeshifting capabilities — it further solidified her as an artist who is at her best when she freely creates to her desires and refuses to adhere to anyone.

1989 was lauded by critics for its infectious synth-pop that was reminiscent of the 1980s, yet still had a contemporary sound. Swift opted to lean more into radio-friendly hits, which resulted in songs like "Style," "Wildest Dreams," "Blank Space," and "Shake It Off," all of which became singles. And where some might trade a hit or two at the expense of their artistic integrity, Swift didn't falter — instead, her lyrics were just as heartfelt and intimate as they were on prior albums.

After exploring pop-leaning sonics she first found with Red, Swift worked with Martin and Shellback again on most of 1989. This reinvention brought new (and very important) collaborators as well. Swift's now-frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff credits her as the first person to take a chance on him as a producer with "I Wish You Would" and "Out Of The Woods"; both tracks exemplified how future Antonoff-produced songs would sound on albums like reputation, Lover and Midnights.

At the time, 1989 became Swift's best-selling album to date. It sold nearly 1.3 million copies within release week in the U.S., debuting atop the Billboard 200 and reigning for 11 non-consecutive weeks. The album also earned Swift several awards — including her second Album Of The Year GRAMMY, which made her the first female artist to ever win the award twice. 

Following the release of 1989, Swift became a cultural juggernaut, and the album has had an omnipresence in music since. Swift didn't just normalize blending genres, but proved that you can create a sound that is uniquely yours by doing so. In turn, Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa and more pop stars have refused to conform or stick to what they've done prior. 

reputation: Killing The Old Taylor

For years, Swift was on a strict two-year cycle — she'd release an album one year, tour the next, and then release a new album the following year. But following the heightened scrutiny and highly publicized tabloid drama that followed the end of the 1989 era, Swift completely disappeared for a year. She stayed away from public appearances, didn't do any press, and missed the album schedule fans became accustomed to. It wasn't until summer 2017 when she returned from her media (and social media) blackout to unveil the fitting title for her new album: reputation.

Born as a response to the naysayers and name-callers, reputation follows Swift shedding her public image — which includes the pressure to be perfect, the drama, and the criticism — by declaring, "There will be no further explanation. There will just be reputation." Leaning on the same tongue-in-cheek songwriting techniques she used while penning "Blank Space," Swift wrote from the mindset of how the public perceived her.

When Swift released the lead single "Look What You Made Me Do," a song she initially wrote as a poem about not trusting specific people, many assumed the album would center on vengeance and drama. Although Swift said that the album has its vindictive moments — even declaring that the "old Taylor" is dead on the bridge of "Look What You Made Me Do" — it's a vulnerable record for her. Swift described reputation as a bait-and-switch; at their core, the songs are about finding love in the darkest moments. 

Swift still remained in the pop lane with reputation, largely leaning on Antonoff and the Martin/Shellback team. The sound almost mirrored the scrutiny Swift faced in the years prior — booming electropop beats, maximalist production and pulsing synthesizers dominate, particularly on "End Game," "I Did Something Bad," and "Ready For It…?" But the "old Taylor" isn't entirely gone on songs like "Call It What You Want," "So It Goes…" and "New Year's Day," where she lets her guard down to write earnest love odes.

Even after Swift spent some time away from the spotlight, the public didn't immediately gravitate toward her return. And even despite matching the 1.2 million first-week sales of her previous releases, some concluded that the album was her first commercial failure when compared to 1989. With time, though, it became clear that the response to reputation became muddled with the public's overall perception of her at the time — some even claimed that Swift was ahead of her time with the album's overall sound.

For her 2023 TIME Person of the Year profile, Swift described reputation as a "goth-punk moment of female rage at being gaslit by an entire social structure." For years, she felt the pressure to be "America's Sweetheart" and to never step out of line. Writing reputation became a lifeline following the events that catalyzed it  — a way to shed the so-called snakeskin and make peace with however the public wanted to view her. 

Lover: Stepping Into The Daylight

After finding love amongst chaos with reputation, Swift was learning to deal with the anxiety and fear of losing her partner — became a major theme of another aptly titled album, Lover. Both sonically and visually, Lover was a complete change from reputation. After touring reputation, Swift found that her fans saw her as "a flesh-and-blood human being," inspiring her to be "brave enough to be vulnerable" because her fans were along with her. Stepping away from the dark and antagonistic themes around reputation encouraged Swift to step into the light and be playful with her work on Lover.

Swift also found a new sense of creativity within this new mindset, one where she aimed to still embed playful themes in her songwriting but with less snark than that of "Blank Space" and "Look What You Made Me Do." Leaning into Lover being a "love letter to love," Swift explored every aspect of it. Tracks like "Paper Rings" and "London Boy" exude a whimsical energy, even if they center on more serious themes like marriage and commitment. Other songs, including "Death By A Thousand Cuts" and "Cornelia Street," are Swift at her most vulnerable, reflecting on a love lost and grappling with the extreme worry that comes when you could potentially lose someone. 

Looking at Lover retrospectively, it's an album that almost symbolizes a bookend in her discography. She was playful yet poignant, picking apart her past lyrics and feelings and looking at them with the perspective of someone who was once on top of the world, hit rock bottom, and survived in spite of it. This evolution is mentioned throughout Lover, particularly in a direct callback to 2012's Red, "Daylight," which sees her describe her love as "golden" rather than "burning red." 

Lover also marked the first time Swift divulged into politics and societal issues, like campaigning against Donald Trump, releasing the Pride-infused "You Need To Calm Down," and feeling disillusioned by the political climate with "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince." Swift's documentary Miss Americana explores this change further, discussing how she regrets not being vocal about politics and issues prior, in addition to opening up about her body image issues and mental health struggles.

Lover became Swift's sixth No. 1 album in America, making her the first female artist to achieve the feat. But Lover was more than any accolades could reflect — it was Swift's transitional album in many ways, notably marking the first album that she owned entirely herself following leaving Big Machine Records for Republic Records in 2018.

folklore: Looking Beyond Her Personal Stories

After the pandemic started and Swift cancelled her Lover Fest, she spent the early stages of quarantine reading and watching a myriad of films. Without exactly setting out to create an album, she began dreaming of fictional stories and characters with various narrative arcs, allowing her imagination to run free. The result became folklore, 2020's surprise archetypal quarantine album.

Crafting a world with characters like the folklore love triangle between those in "betty" and "august," as well as Rebekah Harkness from "the last great american dynasty" (who once lived in Swift's Rhode Island mansion), was Swift's way of venturing outside her typical autobiographical style of writing. She'd see visceral images in her mind — from battleships to tree swings to mirrored disco balls — and turned them into stories, sometimes weaving in her own personal narrative throughout, or taking on a narrator role and speaking from the perspective of someone she had never met. 

She worked remotely with two producers — again working with her right-hand man Jack Antonoff, and first-time collaborator Aaron Dessner from The National. Some songs, like "peace," were recorded in just one take, capturing the essence and fragility in the song's story, whereas the lyrics for the sun-drenched "august" were penned on the spot as Swift was in her makeshift home studio in Los Angeles.

Another aspect that separated folklore from her previous work was the obvious decision not to create hits made for radio play, so much so that Dessner claimed that she made an anti-pop record at a time when radio wanted clear "bops." Sonically, it ventured into genres Swift hadn't explored much outside of a few folkier tracks on Lover. Rather than relying on mostly electronic elements, Swift, Antonoff and Dessner weaved in soft pianos, ethereal strings, and plucky guitars.

folklore's impact on the zeitgeist at a time where everyone was stuck at home helped shape people's quarantine experience. Fans rejoiced at having songs to comfort them during difficult times, and artists like Maya Hawke, Gracie Abrams, and Sabrina Carpenter credit folklore for inspiring them to create and be even more emotionally honest in their songwriting. After its release, folklore became the best-selling album of 2020 after selling 1.2 million records. At the 2021 GRAMMYs, folklore took home Album Of The Year, making her the fourth artist in history to win three times in the Category. 

evermore: Embracing Experimentation

It was exciting enough for Swifties to experience one surprise album drop from Swift, an artist who typically has an entire album campaign calculated. So when evermore was released just six months after folklore, fans were in shock. 

Like its (literally) folklorian sister, evermore was a surprise release at the end of 2020, marking the first time Swift didn't have distinct "eras" between albums. She felt like there was something "different" with folklore, stating in a social media post that making it was less like she was "departing" and more like she was "returning" to the next stage of her discography. In turn, the album served as a similar escape for Swift as folklore did.

Bridging together the same wistful and nostalgic themes as heard on its predecessor, evermore sees Swift venture even further into escapism. She explores more stories and characters, some based in fiction like "dorothea," and some real, like "marjorie," written in dedication to Swift's grandmother. 

Evermore follows folklore's inclusion of natural imagery and motifs, like landscapes, skies, ivy, and celestial elements. In contrast to the fairytale motifs and happy endings of Fearless, evermore saw Swift become fixated on "unhappy" endings — stories of failed marriages ("happiness"), lifeless relationships ("tolerate it"), and one-time flings ("'tis the damn season"). 

Sonically, evermore is a slight departure from its sister record; where folklore relies on more alt-leaning and indie-tinged sounds, evermore takes the sonics from all of Swift's past records — from pop to country to indie rock — and features all of them on one album. Country songs like "cowboy like me" and "no body, no crime" reaches back to Swift's earlier work in narrative building, seamlessly crafting a three-party story with ease. "Closure" is a "skittering" track that has the same energy as tracks like Lover's "I Forgot That You Existed," whereas the ballad "champagne problems" is thematically reminiscent of Swift's Speak Now track "Back To December" where she takes responsibility for her lover's heartache. 

Working mostly with Dessner on evermore, Swift was emboldened to continue creating and opted to embrace whatever came naturally to them rather than limiting themselves to a sound. Swift felt a "quiet conclusion" after finishing up evermore, describing that it was more about grappling with endings of all "sizes and shapes," and the record represented a chapter closing. Even so, its poetic lyricism and mystical storytelling cleverly foreshadowed what was to come with subsequent albums, particularly The Tortured Poets Department.

Midnights: Encapsulating Her Artistic Magic

After coming out of the folklorian woods following folklore and evermore, fans and critics alike were intrigued to see what direction Swift would take on her next studio album. On Midnights, Swift leaves behind indie folk sounds and returns to the pop production of 1989 and Lover.

Her most conceptual album to date, Midnights charts 13 sleepless nights and explores five themes, from self-hatred and revenge to "what if" fantasies, falling in love, and falling apart. They are the things that keep her up at night, like the self-critiquing in "Anti-Hero," her rise to fame in "You're on Your Own, Kid," and the anxiety of falling in love again in "Labyrinth." Similarly to Swift's cheeky songwriting style that sees her create caricatures of herself in songs like "Blank Space" and "Look What You Made Me Do," she doubles down on claims she's "calculated" on "Mastermind," a song about devising a plan for her and her lover. 

Although the album is a departure from the two pandemic sister albums, the overall creation process didn't differ too much. In addition to working alongside Antonoff (and bringing Dessner in for the bonus-track-filled 3am Edition), Swift's worldbuilding is still the throughline that connects Midnights and Swift's recent albums, whether she's dreaming of a Parisian escape in "Paris" or using war imagery as a metaphor for the struggle of love in "The Great War."

Read More: 5 Takeaways From Taylor Swift's New Album 'Midnights'

Following the success with folklore and evermore, Swift's intrigue was at a then-all-time high upon the release of Midnights. Along with breaking several streaming records — including becoming the first album to exceed 700 million global streams in a week — it was Swift's 11th No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200, and was the highest-selling album of 2022 (and, remarkably, the second best-selling of 2023).

To say that Swift's celebrity has become otherworldly since the release of Midnights would be an understatement. Celebrating her genre-defying and varied discography through The Eras Tour has resulted in old songs having a resurgence, new inside jokes and Easter eggs within the fandom, and a plethora of new listeners being exposed to Swift's work. 

As a result, there has arguably never been more excitement for a Taylor Swift album than for The Tortured Poets Department — especially because the announcement came on the heels of her lucky 13th GRAMMY win in February. Midnights helped further solidify Swift's larger-than-life status at the finale of the 2024 GRAMMYs, too, as she became the only artist in history to win Album Of The Year four times. 

The Tortured Poets Department: Check back on April 19!

All Things Taylor Swift

National Recording Registry Announces Inductees

Photo: Library of Congress

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National Recording Registry Inducts Music From The Notorious B.I.G., Green Day, Blondie, The Chicks, & More

Recordings by the Cars, Bill Withers, Lily Tomlin, Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick, and the all-Black 369th U.S. Infantry Band after World War I are also among the 25 selected for induction.

GRAMMYs/Apr 17, 2024 - 12:54 am

As a founding member of the National Recording Preservation Board, the Recording Academy was instrumental in lobbying and getting the board created by Congress. Now, the Library of Congress has added new treasures to the National Recording Registry, preserving masterpieces that have shaped American culture.

The 2024 class not only celebrates modern icons like Green Day’s punk classic Dookie and Biggie Smalls' seminal Ready to Die, but also honors vintage gems like Gene Autry’s "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and Perry Como’s hits from 1957. These recordings join over 650 titles that constitute the registry — a curated collection housed within the Library’s vast archive of nearly 4 million sound recordings. 

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced these additions as essential pieces of our nation’s audio legacy, each selected for their cultural, historical, or aesthetic importance. This selection process is influenced by public nominations, which hit a record number this year, emphasizing the public's role in preserving audio history.

Read more: Inside Green Day's Intimate "Right Here, Right Now" Global Climate Concert In San Francisco

"The Library of Congress is proud to preserve the sounds of American history and our diverse culture through the National Recording Registry," Hayden said. "We have selected audio treasures worthy of preservation with our partners this year, including a wide range of music from the past 100 years, as well as comedy. We were thrilled to receive a record number of public nominations, and we welcome the public’s input on what we should preserve next."

The latest selections named to the registry span from 1919 to 1998 and range from the recordings of the all-Black 369th U.S. Infantry Band led by James Reese Europe after World War I, to defining sounds of jazz and bluegrass, and iconic recordings from pop, dance, country, rock, rap, Latin and classical music.

"For the past 21 years the National Recording Preservation Board has provided musical expertise, historical perspective and deep knowledge of recorded sound to assist the Librarian in choosing landmark recordings to be inducted into the Library’s National Recording Registry," said Robbin Ahrold, Chair of the National Recording Preservation Board. "The board again this year is pleased to join the Librarian in highlighting influential works in our diverse sound heritage, as well as helping to spread the word on the National Recording Registry through their own social media and streaming media Campaigns."

Tune in to NPR's "1A" for "The Sounds of America" series, featuring interviews with Hayden and selected artists, to hear stories behind this year’s picks. Stay connected to the conversation about the registry via social media and listen to many of the recordings on your favorite streaming service.

For more details on the National Recording Registry and to explore more about the selections, visit The Library of Congress's official National Recording Registry page.

National Recording Registry, 2024 Selections (chronological order)

  1. "Clarinet Marmalade" – Lt. James Reese Europe’s 369th U.S. Infantry Band (1919)

  2. "Kauhavan Polkka" – Viola Turpeinen and John Rosendahl (1928)

  3. Wisconsin Folksong Collection (1937-1946)

  4. "Rose Room" – Benny Goodman Sextet with Charlie Christian (1939)

  5. "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" – Gene Autry (1949)

  6. "Tennessee Waltz" – Patti Page (1950)

  7. "Rocket ‘88’" – Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats (1951)

  8. "Catch a Falling Star" / "Magic Moments" – Perry Como (1957)

  9. "Chances Are" – Johnny Mathis (1957)

  10. "The Sidewinder" – Lee Morgan (1964)

  11. "Surrealistic Pillow" – Jefferson Airplane (1967)

  12. "Ain’t No Sunshine" – Bill Withers (1971)

  13. "This is a Recording" – Lily Tomlin (1971)

  14. "J.D. Crowe & the New South" – J.D. Crowe & the New South (1975)

  15. "Arrival" – ABBA (1976)

  16. "El Cantante" – Héctor Lavoe (1978)

  17. "The Cars" – The Cars (1978)

  18. "Parallel Lines" – Blondie (1978)

  19. "La-Di-Da-Di" – Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick (MC Ricky D) (1985)

  20. "Don’t Worry, Be Happy" – Bobby McFerrin (1988)

  21. "Amor Eterno" – Juan Gabriel (1990)

  22. "Pieces of Africa" – Kronos Quartet (1992)

  23. Dookie – Green Day (1994)

  24. Ready to Die – The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)

  25. "Wide Open Spaces" – The Chicks (1998)


21 Albums Turning 50 In 2024: 'Diamond Dogs,' 'Jolene,' 'Natty Dread' & More

Henry Mancini in a recording studio
Henry Mancini

Photo: A. Schorr/ullstein bild via Getty Images

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10 Essential Henry Mancini Recordings: From "Moon River" To The 'Pink Panther' Theme

Composer, arranger, conductor and pianist Henry Mancini won 20 GRAMMY Awards over his legendary career. On what would be his 100th birthday, revisit 10 timeless Henry Mancini compositions.

GRAMMYs/Apr 16, 2024 - 01:34 pm

Henry Mancini had a gift for melodies of an ethereal, almost supernatural beauty.  

His prolific discography — albums of jazzy orchestral pop, dozens of film and television soundtracks — established him as a cultural icon and transformed the role that melody and song played in the art of movie narrative. Once you encounter a Henry Mancini tune, it’s almost impossible not to start humming it.

A composer, arranger, conductor and pianist of tireless discipline, Mancini won a staggering 20 GRAMMY Awards and was nominated 72 times. All of his wins — including the first-ever golden gramophone for Album Of The Year at the inaugural 1959 GRAMMYs — will be on display at the GRAMMY Museum to honor his centennial birthday, April 16. 

To mark what would be his centennial birthday, Mancini's children will travel to Abruzzo, Italy — where Mancini’s parents migrated from. And on June 23, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra will present a program of his music with a gallery of guest stars including singer Monica Mancini, the maestro’s daughter. Out June 21, The Henry Mancini 100th Sessions – Henry Has Company will feature a new recording of "Peter Gunn" conducted by Quincy Jones and featuring John Williams, Herbie Hancock and Arturo Sandoval.

Although Mancini died in 1994 at age 70, his compositions remain timeless and ever-relevant. Read on for 10 essential Henry Mancini compositions to cherish and rediscover.  

"Peter Gunn" (1958)

In 1958, Mancini was looking for work and used his old Universal studio pass to enter the lot and visit the barber shop. It was outside the store that he met writer/director Blake Edwards and got the chance to write the music for a new television show about private detective Peter Gunn. 

Seeped in West Coast Jazz, Mancini’s main theme sounds brash and exciting to this day – its propulsive beat and wailing brass section evoking an aura of cool suspense. The "Peter Gunn" assignment cemented his reputation as a cutting-edge composer, and the accompanying album (The Music From Peter Gunn) won GRAMMYs in the Album Of The Year and Best Arrangement categories.

"Mr. Lucky" (1959)

Half of the "Peter Gunn" fan mail was addressed to Mancini. As a result, CBS offered Blake Edwards a second television show, as long as the composer was part of the package. Edwards created "Mr. Lucky," a stylish series about the owner of a floating casino off the California coast. 

1959 was an exhausting year for Mancini, as he was scoring two shows at the same time on a weekly basis. Still, his music flowed with elegance and ease. The "Mr. Lucky" ambiance allowed him to explore Latin rhythms, and the strings on his wonderful main theme shimmer with a hint of yearning. It won GRAMMY Awards in 1960 for Best Arrangement and Best Performance by an Orchestra.

"Lujon" (1961)

As part of his contract with RCA Victor, Mancini was committed to recording a number of albums featuring original compositions in the same velvety jazz-pop idiom from his television work. "Lujon" is the standout track from Mr. Lucky Goes Latin, a collection of Latin-themed miniatures that luxuriate in a mood of plush languor.

 Inspired by the complex harmonics of French composer Maurice Ravel, "Lujon" steers safely away from lounge exotica thanks to the refined qualities of the melody and arrangement.

"Moon River" (1961)

Performed on a harmonica, the main melody of "Moon River" is nostalgic to the bone, but also life affirming. A majestic string section makes the music swoon, like gliding on air. And the harmonies in the vocal chorus add gravitas — a touch of humanity. 

It took Mancini half an hour to write "Moon River," but the Breakfast at Tiffany’s anthem made him a global superstar. Among the many artists who covered the song, pop crooner Andy Williams turned it into his personal anthem. Mancini won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and GRAMMY Awards for Record Of The Year, Song Record Of The Year and Best Arrangement. The album soundtrack earned two additional gramophones.

Theme from Hatari! (1962)

After two failed attempts with different composers, legendary director Howard Hawks invited Mancini to write the score for Hatari! — the wildly episodic but oddly endearing safari film he had shot in Tanganyika with John Wayne. Mancini jumped at the opportunity, and Hawks gave him a few boxes from the trip that contained African percussive instruments, a thumb piano and a tape of Masai tribal chants. Two chords from that chant, together with a slightly detuned upright piano formed the basis for the movie’s main theme. 

Mancini’s sparse arrangement and melancholy melody conspired to create one of the most gorgeous themes in the history of film.

"Days of Wine and Roses" (1962)

Throughout the decades, Mancini provided musical accompaniment to Blake Edwards’ filmography, which switched from slapstick comedy to stark melodrama. There is a perverse beauty to the theme of Days of Wine and Roses — a movie about a couple of lifelong alcoholics — as the lush choral arrangement seems to glorify the innocence of better times. 

It won an Academy Award for Best Original Song — Mancini’s second Oscar in a row — and three GRAMMYs: Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Background Arrangement.

"The Pink Panther Theme" (1963)

Directed by Edwards and starring Peter Sellers as part of an ensemble cast, the original Pink Panther was a frothy caper comedy that had none of the manic touches of comedic genius that Sellers would exhibit in subsequent entries of the franchise. It was Mancini’s ineffable main theme that carried the movie through.

Jazzy and mischievous, Mancini wrote the melody with the light-as-a-feather playing of tenor saxophonist Plas Johnson in mind. It won GRAMMYs in three categories: Best Instrumental Arrangement, Best Instrumental Compositions (Other Than Jazz), and Best Instrumental Performance – Non-Jazz.

Charade (1963)

Mancini’s gift for cosmopolitan tunes and jazzy arrangements found the perfect vehicle in the score for Stanley Donen’s Charade — a droll Hitchcockian thriller shot in Paris and starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. 

The main theme is a waltz in A minor, and opens with pulsating percussion. When the central melody appears, it evokes a melancholy reflection and a certain thirst for the kind of globetrotting adventure that the film delivers in spades. It was Johnny Mercer’s favorite Mancini melody, and he wrote exquisite lyrics for it. 

The best version probably belongs to jazz singer Johnny Hartman, who released it as the opening track of his 1964 album I Just Dropped By To Say Hello.

Two For The Road (1967)

Friends and family remember Mancini as a humble craftsman who ignored the trappings of fame and focused on the discipline of work. In 1967, after Audrey Hepburn cabled to ask him about writing the music for the Stanley Donen film Two For The Road, Mancini agreed, but was taken aback when the director rejected his initial theme. Leaving his ego aside, he returned to the drawing board and delivered a lovely new melody – and a spiraling piano pattern seeped in old fashioned tenderness.

"Theme from The Molly Maguires" (1970)

Even though Mancini enjoyed most accolades during the ‘60s, his protean level of inspiration never wavered. In 1970, he was brought in to rescue the soundtrack of Martin Ritt’s gritty secret societies drama The Molly Maguires, about Irish-American miners rebelling against their mistreatment in 19th century Pennsylvania. 

The main theme makes time stand still: a sparse arrangement that begins with a solitary harp, until a recorder ushers in a haunting, Irish-inspired melody. The score reflected a more restrained Mancini, but was still intensely emotional.

Jeff Goldblum's Musical Influences: How Frank Sinatra, "Moon River" & More Jazz Greats Inspired The Actor-Turned-Musician

Taylor Swift performing in Kansas City in 2023
Taylor Swift performs on night one of the Eras Tour in Kansas City, Missouri in July 2023.

Photo: John Shearer/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

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Taylor Swift, The 'Tortured Poet': 6 Times She's Used Poetry In Her Work

As Taylor Swift prepares for her next era with 'The Tortured Poets Department,' take a look at some of the ways the pop superstar has displayed her love for poetry in her songwriting, tours and more.

GRAMMYs/Apr 15, 2024 - 07:22 pm

With an ability to write songs that are as timeless as they are universal, Taylor Swift has often been described as the most impressive songwriter of her generation. The pop star's authentic lyrics and knack for storytelling has had fans invested from the start of her career, picking apart each line to better understand them. What is largely overlooked, though, are the poetic tools Swift channels to better understand herself.

From turning short stanzas into songs to categorizing tracks as "quill" or "fountain pen," Swift deftly incorporates her love of poetry and writing into her work. And now, she's conceptualizing an entire album around it.

Swift's aptly titled eleventh album, The Tortured Poets Department, sees the singer/songwriter as the Chairman of the Department who, upon announcing the album, declared "All's fair in love and poetry." Following the release of Midnights, she began working on the record and has since said it was a "lifeline" album — and that she never had a project where she needed songwriting more.

Before The Tortured Poets Department arrives on April 19, GRAMMY.com explores how Swift has incorporated poetry into her career and used it to level her songwriting.

Honoring Poets In Her Work

Much like how her fans find comfort in her work, Swift uses poetry as a main source of comfort and inspiration. Swift begins her album prologue for 2012's Red by quoting the poem "Tonight I Write the Saddest Lines" by Neruda, one she's said has always captivated her. 

The line reads, "Love is so short, forgetting is so long." It sets the theme for the entire Red album, with Swift stating that she relates to the line in her "saddest moments" when she "needed to know someone else had felt the exact same way." It clearly made an impression on her: during the release of Red (Taylor's Version) almost a decade later, she'd quote the line again at the beginning of "All Too Well: The Short Film."

When speaking with NPR about the poem, Swift said that her favorite writers — whether they be poets or authors — have "musical hooks" in their work and have the ability to write about things in a universal, relatable and simple way. "The Lakes," a deluxe track featured on folklore, directly references The Lake Poets, who called the idyllic Lake District in England home. Specifically, the track gives a nod to Romantic poet William Wordsworth: "Take me to the lakes where all the poets went to die/ I don't belong, and my beloved, neither do you [...]/ I've come too far to watch some name-dropping sleaze/ Tell me what are my words worth." 

Compartmentalizing Her Songwriting

During her acceptance speech for NSAI's Songwriter-Artist of the Decade Award in 2022, Swift mentioned the "dorky" way she compartmentalizes songwriting into three categories: "quill," "fountain pen" and "glitter gel." Fun, upbeat songs that don't take themselves too seriously fall under the "glitter gel" category; "fountain pen" lyrics reference modern storylines with a "poetic twist." 

"Quill" lyrics, however, are the ones that weave Swift's poeticism directly into her songs. During the speech, she describes writing them using antiquated words, almost as if she was "inspired to write it after reading Charlotte Brontë or after watching a movie where everyone is wearing poet shirts and corsets." Particularly, she notes evermore's "ivy" as a "quill" track, reciting the lyrics, "How's one to know/ I'd meet you where the spirit meets the bones/ In a faith forgotten land."

Using Poems To Communicate During A Media Blackout

Following the hysteria post-1989 that catalyzed 2017's reputation, Swift leaned into the album's ethos — "There will be no further explanation, there will just be reputation" — Swift avoided most, if not all, interviews during the press campaign. Instead, she opted to use poetry as a form of communication. 

In place of an interview, she submitted a poem to British Vogue to accompany her cover shoot. The poem "The Trick to Holding On" was seemingly written at the tail end of that aforementioned media scrutiny, seeing Swift exploring themes around healing and acceptance, writing, "Let go of the ones who hurt you/ Let go of the ones you outgrow" and "Suddenly you'll know/ The trick to holding on/ Was all that letting go."

As part of the album launch, Swift released accompanying magazines with two different poems titled "If You're Anything Like Me" and "Why She Disappeared," both written by her. In "If You're Anything Like Me," Swift picks apart her own flaws and failings while touching on the aftermath of the scrutiny she experienced ("Each new enemy turns to steel/ They become the bars that confine you/ In your own little golden prison cell"). It ends with Swift recognizing her growth and finding peace: "If you're anything like me, I'm sorry/ But Darling, it's going to be okay."

Reciting Poetry On Tour

On her two most recent tours, Swift has integrated poetry into parts of her sets. Before Swift performed "Getaway Car" during the reputation stadium tour, she recited her poem "Why She Disappeared." Much like "If You're Anything Like Me," the poem explores her tarnished reputation and uses illeism to show the distance she feels from those events. In the poem, she says, "Without your past/ You could never have arrived so wondrously and brutally/ By design or some violent, exquisite happenstance/...here," distinguishing her past self from her present self.

As Swift took a journey through her discography on her Eras Tour, she began the folklore set — the one that fans might describe as her most poetic — with a spoken word version of her song "seven." Alluding to her past and current eras, Swift begins the poem with the line, "If you wish to romanticize the woman I became" followed by interpolating a lyric from 1989's "Wildest Dreams," saying, "Then say you'll remember me/ Standing in a nice dress/ Staring at the sunset." She asks audiences to "begin at the beginning" by picturing her in the trees and continues to recite the first verse and chorus.

Referencing Literature

When Vogue asked Swift what subject she would teach if she was a teacher, it wasn't a surprise that she said English. Her love of literature — both modern and classic — is apparent in her lyrics. Sometimes she compares herself to literary characters, like Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby in the song "happiness," in which she sings, "I hope she'll be a beautiful fool," a direct quote from the novel. Instead of using it in its original context, which was meant to be a blessing, Swift makes it more devastating. 

Other times, she uses specific motifs as a way to express her frustrations, like using Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and its themes of "adultery" and sin in Fearless' "Love Story" ("You were Romeo, I was a scarlet letter") and in 1989 "New Romantics" ("Show off our different scarlet letters").

The concept of fate that Swift explores in "invisible string" was mentioned by English author Charlotte Brontë in Jane Eyre. The novel's "I have a strange feeling with regard to you: as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly knotted to a similar string in you" line is mirrored by Swift's lyrics, "All along there was some/ Invisible string/ Tying you to me."

In a conversation with Paul McCartney for Rolling Stone, Swift said that she read "much more" than she ever did during folklore. Specifically mentioning Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a story of an unnamed woman who marries a man who she believes is still in love with his wife. Swift found inspiration in the novel's use of flowery and "prettier" words and turned them into song names and lyrics, like "epiphany" and "elegies." Her evermore track "no body, no crime" even alludes to the same death the fictional character faces in Rebecca and "tolerate it" explores the story of a neglected wife and a loveless husband.

Since Swift loves using songwriting and storytelling as a form of escape, it makes sense that she'd also use whimsical children's fairy tales as inspiration. Alice in Wonderland might be the most obvious reference she's used for 1989's "Wonderland," using allusions to falling down a rabbit hole and Cheshire cat grins as a way to explain the frantic and fragile relationship she was experiencing. In "cardigan," Swift puts herself in the shoes of Wendy in Peter Pan to explain her frustrations with the immature and gallless Peter ("I knew you/ Tried to change the ending/ Peter losing Wendy").

Incorporating Poetry Into Songs

Many of Swift's songs began as poems. In conversation with Scholastic in 2014, Swift spoke with students about the books she loved growing up, discussing how journaling helped simplify her feelings which would eventually lead her to discovering her love of poetry. She mentions that "This Love" from 1989 was initially a quick and spontaneous poem she wrote in her journal which read "This love is good/ This love is bad/ This love is alive back from the dead/ These hands had to let it go free and/ This love came back to me." Shortly after, a melody came to mind and she developed the poem into a song.

On Lover, fans found that the penultimate track "It's Nice To Have A Friend" reminded them of a poem. Speaking to Billboard upon the album's release, Swift said the song is more of a poem filled with metaphors with double meanings. "It's Nice To Have A Friend" follows a typical poetic beat — specifically an iambic trimeter — where Swift emphasizes certain syllables to create six syllables per line. 

On her 2022 album, Midnights, Swift directly mentions writing poetry on the love song "Sweet Nothing," penning the lyric, "On the way home/ I wrote a poem/ You say, 'What a mind'/ This happens all the time." Although the themes of pressure and media scrutiny of the reputation poems still appear in her later work, this poetic-sounding track speaks more to a simple gratitude than anything else. 

In late 2023, Swift liked a tweet connecting the lyric to a quote from Paul McCartney about his late wife Linda McCartney, which reads, "I would come back from a run with a poem to share and having listened, Linda would say 'what a mind.'" Whether it's about Paul and Linda or Swift's personal life, poetry helps uncover new ways to inspire her.

As the next chapter in Swift's musical universe begins with the arrival of The Tortured Poet Department, it's clear her love for storytelling is ever-evolving — just like her love for poetry.

All Things Taylor Swift