Clare Coffey on Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen
this is very good, and not just because I agree with Clare that Taylor should date a nice Pennsylvania boy
I have made this comparison before and I am really gratified to read it from a Swift fan/enthusiast.
I am not a fan nor regular listener of either but I have seen Bruce twice and he puts on a hell of a show. He's not much of a musician but his band is one for all time and they really lift him up. Though I haven't seen Taylor live, I've watched some footage and heard enough raving to know that she is a great performer as well.
Bruce and Taylor are probably the best sentimentalist songwriters ever. Certainly the most prolific. For people who are classified as musicians, they're not very musical and their lyrics aren't particularly lyrical - but being a "songwriter" and being a "lyricist" are two different things and our beloved songwriters are rarely good lyricists. Their writing scans awkwardly. This is very obvious with Swift - her phrasing and prosody is often so awkward. She hasn't developed an easy singspiel cadence like Springsteen or Dylan or even Joni though she's about as wordy as they are. Neither of Swiftsteen is a good singer, though they are good vocalists. Linda Ronstadt is a good singer. She doesn't have to sing her own songs. Bruce and Taylor DO have to sing their own songs and they deliver them generally well.
I agree she has little in common with Carole King or Joni who are both Capital M Musicians. Carole was an extremely sophisticated professional composer and she used her Brill Building experience to write songs she could sing easily. Taylor gets compared to Joni a lot, which I find absurd. They're women whose writing is at times autobiographical. They have nothing else in common. Joni's writing is extremely specific and that's part of its appeal. Her words give me insight into this unique hyperactive brain and this unattainable world of hanging out with Mingus and Jaco and Sam Sheperd etc. She's the opposite of "Swiftsteen" in this regard. Swiftsteen very intentionally write themselves into a larger mythical Americana context. I have related to things Joni's described in her songs, but I've never related to her. And, I adore her work and listen to it regularly. Joni is also a musical titan and a spectacular singer. The comparison is unfair to both of them. Joni's closest comparison is probably Van Morrison (and Van is nothing like Bruce). Maybe Laura Nyro but Laura had so much ambition in arranging and instrumentation which Joni didn't. I have also thought perhaps Jackson Browne; while JB's musicianship far exceeds Bruce, he is not sniffing Joni. Van it is.
Sentimentalist writers like Swiftsteen attract almost religious devotion because their listeners find comfort and commiseration in their words. However, many people don't get it. Many don't find a place to settle in Swift's mythical PA or Bruce's mythical NJ, and the fervor seems like adulation. Since, as you said, they're both really basic, there isn't enough Music in their music to sustain interest in the absence of appreciation for the writing.
But, I get why people get it.
sub'd and eager to check out your past work.
evidence in the "Bruce used to be/is basic" column: Lou Reed went out of his way to insult Bruce in a 1975 interview with Punk Magazine (Bruce just went on magnanimously loving Lou Reed anyway, and did that beautiful guest spot on "Street Hassle")
imagine if taylor swift started calling herself The Boss, imo that would rule
i want to make it clear i personally know nothing about bruce springsteen so if you want to take it up with somebody you're gonna have to fight clare (or her dad i guess).