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10 Takeaways from Taylor Swift’s Tiny Desk Concert

By Phjoshua @thereviewsarein
10 Takeaways from Taylor Swift’s Tiny Desk Concert

Taylor Swift made a stop at NPR in DC for a Tiny Desk Concert and it was (almost) everything we could have hoped for and then some.

In 28 minutes and 58 seconds, we felt like we were in the room with her and the 300+ folks that packed themselves into the office for the intimate opportunity to hear Taylor play and sing and tell some stories. I'm a well-documented fan of Swift's career, so it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed her Tiny Desk Concert. But I did want to drop in to give my takeaways from the < 30-minute video.

1. Taylor Swift isn't afraid to make a joke.

The first wisecrack of the video was political ( "It's great to be in DC. You guys had anything exciting going on the last couple weeks?"), a stark departure from her previous reluctance to be involved in politics at all. It's great to see that she's more comfortable now. But it didn't stop there. She was willing to take a crack at her own expense about her career and reputation ( "I don't Google myself ever. I recommend you not do it either. But, my dad does.") and it's great to see her be able to connect and laugh and be lighthearted.

10 Takeaways from Taylor Swift’s Tiny Desk Concert

2. People forget she can play

In four songs, Taylor Swift went from the guitar to the piano, back to the guitar, and then back to the piano again. It broke up any kind of stagnation. It created movement and contrast between the songs. She's a proficient musician on both instruments as she accompanies herself. And the instrument of choice worked with each of the selections. She knows what she's doing and she's as good at it as is required.

3. The old Taylor's not dead, she just grew up

Whatever it was that Taylor had at the Bluebird Cafe more than half her life ago is still there. She's able to just be a singer-songwriter in a room filled with people who are paying attention and listening. She isn't just the mega-popstar relying on production and dancers. She can strip it down and share and sing and she still shines.

4. She connects

In a room of 300+, Taylor Swift made it seem like she was in her own living room. She told stories and told jokes and played songs and was present. This did not feel like a superstar walking in to make an appearance. It felt like it mattered to her that those people showed up. She thanked them for cramming into the small space. And in a world where big and flashy is so revered, this should be too.

10 Takeaways from Taylor Swift’s Tiny Desk Concert

5. Happiness comes from small moments

At the 19:45 mark of the video, just after playing Death By A Thousand Cuts, Taylor Swift picked up three guitar picks from the top of the piano and handed them to three children in the room. The third kid was caught on camera after the received the pick, and the look on her face is worth more words than I can put it into. It was the shocked joy of having your mind blown and your happiness level hit 100% at the same time. The whole thing took about 15 seconds and it was lovely.

6. She's happy and it's not hurting her music

Swift talked about being asked throughout her career, "What will do you ever do if you get happy?" The question came often and because of the breakup songs that she's penned and is famous for. And she admitted that she was worried that being happy would rob her of the ability to write a breakup song because she loves breakup songs and it's fun. She then told the story of writing Death By A Thousand Cuts, and how it excited her because it confirmed to her that she could still do it. So even though Lover is a happy, romantic album, she was able to draw inspiration from elsewhere, proving that she didn't have to "stop writing songs about heartache and misery."

7. She's a really good songwriter

I mean, we knew this already. And yes, her detractors (haters) will point to co-writes even though her track record should speak for itself. But in listening to The Man, Lover, Death By A Thousand Cuts, and All Too Well in their less-produced forms, a new side of them was able to shine through. These are quality songs in storytelling, flow, emotion, and impact. That's what she does and what she has done for more than a decade and a half.

8. Taylor Swift is approaching timelessness

I don't mean to say that Taylor Swift's catalogue of music will be what music lovers are listening to 35 or 50 or 70 years from now. What I'm saying is that as she approaches her 30th birthday, as she has changed genres, changed the way we think about genres, gone through her own personal and professional evolutions, she remains. Taylor Swift was 16 years old when Tim McGraw was released and she was introduced to the world. A lot has changed since then, but she's still here, she's still a star, and she still matters to music and her music still matters. It will be amazing to keep watching her do this as she continues to evolve.

9. Four songs wasn't enough

I know that there's a format for Tiny Desk Concerts. I know that there wasn't time for more. And while I'm glad I got to hear the stripped-down versions of The Man, Lover, Death By A Thousand Cuts, and All Too Well, I wish there had been four more songs. And then four more after that.

And that leads us to the final takeaway.

10. There's no such thing as too much Taylor Swift content

Yes, this is a very personal takeaway, but it's true. Whether it's a 30 minutes Tiny Desk Concert or a 2 hour Netflix version of a Reputation Tour concert, I'm in. Give me late-night talk show interviews and performances. Give me more singles and albums. Give me more Taylor Swift evolving and also going back to what she's comfortable in. I'll take all of it.

Watch Taylor Swifts' NPR Tiny Desk Concert Now!

10 Takeaways from Taylor Swift’s Tiny Desk Concert

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