The call came just 100 hours after I discovered a confidential message on my Taylor Swift-dedicated social media page. The man on the other end of the line was an employee of Swift’s team, Taylor Nation. Although he didn’t provide too many details, he gave me instructions on what I needed to do and where I needed to be for an upcoming opportunity involving my idol.
Swift has played an influential role in my life since her third studio album Speak Now was released in 2010. In the beginning, I was in awe of her ability to tell powerful stories and her vocal range. Today, I’m drawn to her generous spirit and positive outlook on life.
In previous album cycles leading up to their release, Swift has held intimate listening parties, known as Secret Sessions, for select groups of her most dedicated fans. When I got the call from Taylor Nation, I suspected I was invited to the latest session before Lover, Swift’s seventh studio album, debuts on Aug. 23.
Nearly a week after I received the call, on Aug. 4, I was one of 70 fans who were bussed from an undisclosed location in Nashville, Tennessee, to Swift’s nearby family home. Friends I’d made through Instagram and Twitter were also invited. Suddenly there we were, meeting in person for the very first time, mingling poolside and enjoying sliders, pizza and homemade Rice Krispies Treats. After an hour, we were escorted into a sunroom and told to make ourselves comfortable. The room was a sort of haven, filled with pillows and floor cushions, for all the fans to sit together, while one chair in the corner was reserved for Swift.
At 6 p.m. Swift, sporting pink-tipped hair, walked into the room. To my astonishment, she knew everyone’s name and made sure we felt welcome and relaxed. For the next four hours — yes, four hours — she played every song from her new album using an iPod Touch and two large speakers. In between each of the 18 tracks, she meticulously described the inspiration and creative process behind each song.
Lover is everything a fan could hope for in a Taylor Swift album. The melodies are catchy and the lyrics poetic, and yet it’s completely different from anything she’s written in the past. The seventh studio album shows her growth as a person over the last several years and has many indications that she is happier than she’s ever been. It contains all of the raw emotion and storytelling qualities Swift put into the lyrics of her third studio album Speak Now combined with the pop, sass and aggression you’d find in 1989 or even her latest, Reputation.
The new album signifies a new era for Swift where she’s clearly in a happy, healthier place both as a public figure and in her personal, private relationships. This new Swift even explores political themes about which she has been notably silent in the past. Overall, Lover conveys that she has grown from a young, wide-eyed pop star into a confident, strong woman who still believes in the power of love and positivity.
When the night was over, I met with Swift one-on-one. Our conversation felt strangely familiar, almost like having an intimate talk with a close friend. Her sincerity and genuine kindness justified all the reasons I have for loving her and gave me so many more reasons to continue supporting her in the future.
Lover has officially dethroned 1989 as my favorite Swift album. I am incredibly grateful to have been invited to such a special event, and the experience made it abundantly clear that Swift genuinely cares about and loves her fans, just as much as we will always love her.
10:00 AM EST
August 21, 2019