Worlds Collide: A Curious Boomer Attends Taylor Swift's New Eras Tour Concert Film
Taylor joins the tradition of Elvis Presley's magnetism, John, Paul, George and Ringo's Yeah-Yeah-Yeah revolution, Bob Dylan's anthems, Michael Jackson's Moonwalk and Prince's Revolution
For anybody who fears that Taylor Swift Mania spells the end of our beloved western civilization, I want you to meet Reese McQueen. Reese is a 20-year-old biology major in the Honors program at Stony Brook University. She was the valedictorian of her high school class in Poughkeepsie, New York, and is an aspiring genetic counselor. In short: a sure winner.
And Reese is also a merch-consuming, lifelong Swiftie. So of course Reese jumped on her computer when tickets went on sale last year for Taylor's 2023 Eras Tour — and she attended the May 26 show at MetLife Stadium in northern New Jersey.
I wondered why Taylor means so much to Reese, who has been a fan of Taylor since she was five years old, and millions of people.
"As Taylor grew up, so did I," Reese pointed out. "Although she was 14 years older than me, Taylor was like a big sister in a way, offering support and relatability that a young girl needed when growing up. Despite getting slandered by the ruthless, sexist media throughout her whole career, her confidence did not waver, and she served as an inspiration to keep pushing to achieve what you want, even when the world does not want you to. No matter what happens in my life, I know I can always turn to Taylor's music in times of joy, sadness, love and loneliness."
"No matter what happens in my life, I know I can always turn to Taylor's music in times of joy, sadness, love and loneliness."
Isn't that what an earlier generation of young women might have said about Joni Mitchell? Or Carole King? Or Carly Simon? Or Linda Ronstadt? Or Aretha Franklin? You bet. And society was better for it.
One more reassuring point to note about Reese. Can you guess whom she gave her coveted ticket, which might have fetched thousands of dollars, to?
"I took my Mom," she said.
I rest my case. With fans like that, we should celebrate that Taylor Swift is arguably the most successful and acclaimed musical star on the planet.
After crashing Ticketmaster when her concert tickets went on sale a year ago, Taylor routinely filled U.S. football stadiums seating 80,000 people. Most recently, "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour" became the highest-grossing concert film of all time, racking up ticket sales of $123 million in its first weekend. Oh yeah, Taylor is also the most recognizable football fan in the country, rooting on her new boyfriend Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs.
A Sense of Belonging
Whether or not you love the music, identify with her deeply personal lyrics or pretend to understand the fuss, the core of Taylor's immense popularity centers on our desire to belong to something — anything. We need our heroes. We want them to be better than we are. Taylor joins the tradition of Elvis Presley's magnetism, John, Paul, George and Ringo's Yeah-Yeah-Yeah revolution, Bob Dylan's anthems, Michael Jackson's Moonwalk and Prince's Revolution.
We all want to have fun. We want to forget, for a little while, our troubles and the upheaval seen in so many corners of the larger world. And what the heck is wrong with that?
I saw that on the faces of Taylor's Swifties Nation on the evening of Oct. 21, when I sat in an Imax movie theater in Midtown Manhattan and watched "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour," the ballyhooed Taylor Swift film extravaganza capturing the excitement, self-congratulation and sheer happiness of witnessing Taylor Swift's 2023 Eras Tour.
I sat right in there, among all of the Swifties, a blissed-out crowd consisting of jubilant preteen girls and women of all ages — middle schoolers, high schoolers, college students and, oh yes, the odd Boomer.
Wait. Check that: "Witnessing" is the wrong word. These are people who came to the blockbuster movie (and the concerts) to participate in all of the fun.
They dress up to look like Taylor did in one of her eras. They wear lots of lipstick and bracelets.
I sat right in there, among all of the Swifties, a blissed-out crowd consisting of jubilant preteen girls and women of all ages.
No matter their age, they all share the same characteristics. They checked their cynicism at the door. They wanted to be happy for the 2-hour-and 47-minute duration of the film (shortened from the three hour-plus concert to allow as many showings a day as possible).
"Taylor has always been insanely integrated into her fanbase, treating her fans as her friends and writing songs that seem to be entries from a personal diary," Reese McQueen noted.
Whither Taylor Swift
At the height of Beatlemania, a stunned John Lennon remarked, "How long are you gonna last? Well, you can't say! You can be big-headed and say, 'We're gonna last for 10 years.' But as soon as you've said that, you think, 'We'll be lucky if we last for six months.'"
What about Taylor? Will she have a kind of endless popularity, like The Beatles? Or will she succumb to the pressures of mass stardom? Will she self-destruct and wind up as another sad and tragic casualty of fame, like Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and Janis Joplin?
Taylor, fortunately, seems to have a strong, trustworthy support system. She seems to be having a ball. She looked completely in charge during the Eras concert movie.
I'll make a not-so-bold prediction: Taylor will survive. In fact, she will thrive and flourish.
She looks happy to cut loose in a luxury box and cheer the Chiefs when Travis Kelce makes a big play, like anybody's loyal girlfriend might do.
It has been said that rock and roll is an easy business to lose your mind in. But look at the Rolling Stones — on top again with the release of their first studio album in 18 years. Joan Baez, 82 years young, is the subject of a critically acclaimed new documentary of her life. Paul McCartney, yet another distinguished octogenarian, is hitting the road once again.
I'll make a not-so-bold prediction: Taylor will survive. In fact, she will thrive and flourish. Taylor, who turns the ripe old age of 34 on Dec. 13, has a lot to look forward to.