OK, Taylor. Thank you for coming back to us

When it comes to Taylor Swift, it’s impossible to be the first one who breaks a story. In simply trying to track down the lyrics to this latest release, I saw dozens of articles already touting the importance of Me! Of course, there’s always going to be a lot of hoopla around this song because it’s new music from Taylor. But I think this song, this era, this rebrand of a rebrand is most important because after all the darkness, after the snakes, after the shade and the snide remarks and the black lipstick….we really needed our old Taylor back. And even if the sunshine and rainbows and kittens seem like overkill, she’s owning it to the fullest extent. She’s being herself. And she’s not going to change for anyone anymore. She’s a smart lady.

Yesterday, yet another giant winged mural was added to Nashville’s Gulch landscape. In the midst of the NFL Draft, the Country Music Marathon, and a never-ending slew of bachelorette parties, a mob gathered to see if it had any relation to Taylor Swift is all the city needed.

And of course, with it’s technicolor patterns, cat illustrations, and overall bright and fluffy personality, it did. Kudos to T for the unique marketing scheme.

But for me, this was no surprise. Media outlets were wildly proclaiming how Taylor had “officially confirmed” new music. But of COURSE she had! Wasn’t it beyond obvious? Weeks of teasing with no caption but a date? A tightly-branded color scheme? Palm trees, glitter dust, pastels….these were all the key elements to another rebrand. A rebrand that was going to take us back to what Taylor Swift was always meant to be: unapologetically herself.

I promise that you’ll never find another like me*

Over the years, everyone has at one point or another dismissed Taylor for her whimsical, fairy tale-like costumes and stage designs and song themes. When will she ever grow up? we seemed to think to ourselves. But the release of Me! is almost like the proof we needed to believe that “growing up” is only relative. Growing up is what we make of it. Growing up is how we take our childhood passions and dreams and quirks and make them into something real and relatable.

Verse 1: Taylor Swift
I know that I’m a handful, baby, uh / I know I never think before I jump / And you’re the kind of guy the ladies want/ And there’s a lot of cool chicks out there / I know that I went psycho on the phone / I never leave well enough alone / And trouble’s gonna follow where I go / And there’s a lot of cool chicks out there.

This song isn’t about Romeo and Juliet, or cats, or princesses, or castles. It’s about life. But it’s also about being accepted as you are – whether it’s by a lover or by the simple act of speaking and owning your truth. Yes, we know we’re a handful. Yes, we know we can go psycho sometimes. But sometimes things work out because we need those exact elements to be ourselves, to be loved and accepted for being real. And that’s what the song is about. In a very pop-oriented, happy-go-lucky, cheerleader-chanting kind of way that resonates so very vividly with the Taylor we’ve known for years.

Hey, kids! / Spelling is fun! / Girl, there ain’t no I in “team” / But you know there is a “me” / Strike the band up, 1, 2, 3 / I promise that you’ll never find another like me / Girl, there ain’t no I in “team” / But you know there is a “me” / And you can’t spell “awesome” without “me” / I promise that you’ll never find another like…

Basically, even as old as this song got when played on repeat 4 times over the course of my short morning commute (I was holding coffee and driving and changing songs on my phone was impossible – plus I figured it would give me a good base to write this post), it’s Taylor at her current best. It’s FUN. It’s HAPPY. It’s SUMMER. And the beauty of the song is that it doesn’t need to go “deep” to communicate it’s greatest message – there’s nobody like Me. There’s nobody like You. So let’s do this thing and live it up.

I know I tend to make it about me / I know you never get just what you see
But I will never bore you, baby / And there’s a lot of lame guys out there / And when we had that fight out in the rain / You went after me and called my name / I never wanna see you walk away / And there’s a lot of lame guys out there.

I could probably do all the research and write an in-depth article about what each lyric means, how all the symbolism in the video works together, how all the clues on her Instagram converged to lead up to this moment (by the way, let me say that I’m still a little peeved that she shut down all her commenting and had to be all cryptic with the 4.26 posts – we got it on Day 1, Taylor. Something big on 4.26!), but the truth is, everyone else has already been up all night doing that. And they’re publishing their fine remarks on Elle and E! and Refinery29.

But this here is just ME, a former TS Superfan who didn’t know how growing up with Taylor was going to pan out. This isn’t the best song I’ve ever heard. I will always miss the old skool “Tim McGraw”/”Our Song” 4-chord acoustics. But I’m happy to see Taylor growing up in her own way, in a way that allows for happy and bright and adorable, but doesn’t lean on ironic Hello Kitty stuffed animals or princess crowns.

The way I see it, Taylor is more Me! than she’s ever been allowed to be. She’s found her niche, a genre that allows her to experiment, to play, to be mature under the guise of being a little immature. And I think that’s great. I think that’s what she needed to survive.

‘Cause one of these things is not like the others / Livin’ in winter, I am your summer / Baby doll, when it comes to a lover / I promise that you’ll never find another like Me-e-e, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh / I’m the only one of me / Let me keep you company / Eeh-eeh-eeh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh / You’re the only one of you / Baby, that’s the fun of you / And I promise that nobody’s gonna love you like me\

I hope this is Taylor experiencing her power – her GRL PWR – her ability to communicate a strong message to young women and be a real political/social/self-love influence on a community that needs to hear it; that needs to hear it from her. So let’s all raise our freak flags high. Let’s own our influences. Let’s embrace the people who love us for and despite the imperfections we can’t change. Let’s take on this weekend and live our best lives. Right here. Right now. As far away from the NFL Draft as is humanly possible.

*lyrics presented out of order