The idea of Harry reaching for a new legitimacy — whether successfully or not — is one I’m really interested in exploring at the moment. I’ve seen a handful of conversations online that basically amount to “he’s got a guitar now, he’s trying to be something more real than One Direction let him be.” I find that conversation so dull and meaningless. It aligns with a rockist mentality that men writing their own music and playing their own instruments is somehow more fulfilling or valid than a catchy pop hook or beat you can dance to. The most wonderful thing about this record, I think, is that it’s not only in keeping with Harry’s “old stuff,“ but that it is very likely the space he’ll continue to work in for a long time. I can’t imagine him noticing Top 40 trends and peppering them into his work on the next record, or clutching for some new and different sound to appeal to a more quote, unquote legitimate audience. Harry has always defied trends, whether through his personal style — wearing floral suits where his bandmates wore classic black or jeans and t-shirts — or, now, by backing the passion and dedication of the teen-girl fan base where, historically, newly solo ex–boy banders were rabid about distancing themselves from that audience in favor of new, older listeners. Even for all the trendy nostalgia in this record, he also shrugged off his producer’s suggestion to use outdated technology to make it; on the Rolling Stone podcast, Cameron Crowe said Harry was adamant about using the most up-to-date tools today, just as his heroes did in the ’60s and ’70s, rather that backpedaling into analog for analog’s sake. The idea that he’s somehow more “real” now that he’s nervously plucking a guitar (one he’s traveled with for, like, five years) is misguided.
I was listening to the Cameron Crowe podcast again and one of the things he brings up a number of times is how Harry is all about the melodies, and we kind of already knew this from Harry’s favourite tunes (can’t get much more melodic and catchy than some of the tunes on that AM mixtape). But, I wouldn’t say SOTT is particularly melodic? And the story CC tells about where SOTT came from is of Harry sat at the piano, trying out chords, and using his phone to record his ideas, but the final result was nothing like the song he set out intending to write.
The bit I find fascinating is that the song Harry chose as his first single and as his introduction as a solo artist didn’t come from the musical influences that he talks about a LOT, or the stuff he chooses to listen to, but from the inspiration and freedom he must have felt from spending time with musicians and working in a studio for the first time as a solo artist. I wonder if that’s why SOTT means so much to him because it’s organic and came from the heart and maybe stands alone as being influenced by his own origins of starting out on a new path rather than from his existing musical preferences? It must have been an emotional moment for him, and also kind of fits with the water/birthing symbology and aesthetic that he has going on in his artwork that he’s being so mysterious about.
Dan Wilson, co-writer/producer with Taylor on RED for Treacherous and Come Back, Be Here, in a Rolling Stone Music Now podcast on Sirius XM, July 17, 2017
Q: In the couple minutes we have left, I wanted
to ask you about Taylor Swift. You wrote a couple songs with her, Treacherous is
on your new album, you do your own version of that. What did you take away from
working with her, what was different than someone might expect, just based on
the popular image of Taylor Swift, perhaps?
A: Well, I’ve had a bunch of interactions..
I’m not going to talk about the sessions in particular… but I’ve had a lot of
interactions with Taylor in different places. And she is, like the other
artists I have talked about, a respectful, funny, super insightful, positive,
directed kind of person. I’ve seen her at the meet and greets after gigs and she
is like, treats the little children that want to meet her with this incredible
gentleness and respect. And that’s very telling. I feel like… our… the songs we wrote, like…I think Treacherous is
an amazing song and it’s sort of funny because of the structure, it’s not
shaped like a hit.
A: It has these bridges that get out of
hand. They almost make too much of themselves, the bridges. At the same time, I
felt like artistically, it was like, totally the right way to go. So, it’s
interesting to write a song that has all the right artistic moves and isn’t necessarily
like, geared towards being a smash. And still have that … it turned out so
i love this rolling stone podcast mostly because i can’t believe something so complimentary exists about taylor swift in the year 2017.. the way they shine a light on her art, the way they talk about how excellent her songwriting is, the way they point out that her musicianship gets lost in her celebrity
I just wanted to submit this for anyone that cares. Last night a girl posted a video telling her experience at the troubadour show in Los Angeles. In this video she talked about how disrespectful Harry’s management was to his young fan base. The video made me so sad. She went as far to say that his team had her considering unstanning. She described Tommy Bruce as the ‘rudest most disrespectful person she had ever met.’ She talked about how he they treated his fans in a condescending manner because they were young girls and cursed at them telling them to back the fuck up. He was laughing in their faces, cursing at them, yelling at them like fucking children, and eventually stopped selling tickets as about 500 people were lined up. He gave tickets to like 15 people and literally was like FUCK OFF to the other 100’s of people in line. There’s so much more. She talked so much about how his team disrespected his fans. The video was very telling. Its pissed me the fuck off watching that video. These young girls are carrying his entire fucking career so show some respect. I bet he wouldn’t have talked to a bunch of hipster guys like that. I have heard SO MANY other stories about how horrible his management is. Also, they had a bunch of people line up at the Troubadour just to go sell tickets at another venue clearly to fuck with people. There was no reason to sell tickets at a different venue. What was the point except to fucking make things difficult? They had everyone leave the actual venue and purchase tickets at a completely different place…all to get there and have like 40 tickets sold. It’s like the saying ‘Show me who your friends are and I’ll show you who you are.’ It says a lot about Harry when he works with these types of people. The video is reveals so much about how fucking awful Harry’s management is. I can’t wait for his tour so he can see a bunch of young girls every single night and be reminded who is carrying his career. You’re not some fucking cool indie hipster. Your a pop star with a predominately young female fanbase and there is nothing wrong with that. Show these girls respect like you would anybody else. I’ve had enough of people discrediting his fans because of our age and gender. Also, these is probably another shocker but Cameron Crowe who did Harry’s RS interview literally on a podcast said his line about 'respecting teen girls’ sounded rehearsed and scripted. It was on The Rolling Stones podcast. Like he blatantly called him out lol - If anyone is curious. I will leave the link to the video of the girls story. It’s very interesting and says a lot about how messy his team is, how disrespectful they are, and how they have no fucking idea what they’re doing.
Taylor is a really serious force to be reckoned with. Its a reminder of how many songs she has and the diversity of the songs. People are focusing on the personality right now, they are focusing on the controversies and in the end when this (drama) is forgotten, there will be there music.
While there have been glaring factual errors in almost every piece written in the last week, there was one from the earlier Vulture article I wanted to point out. The writer states that Harry as the RS cover story was an honor considered "too sophomoric" for 1D. The truth is, there was a cover and story about 1D before Harry turned 18.
In the Rolling Stone podcast with Cameron Crowe, another writer mentioned that he had a cover story pulled about 1D in 2012 because of violating advertising rules when cover story subjects are under 18. Basically, Rolling Stone had prepared the 5 boys to be on the cover, and I’m unclear on the specific law that was in question, but because of a product (maybe cigarettes, maybe alcohol) with high advertising $$, the story was pulled. In early 2012, Harry was the only one still under 18. (2/3.)
Ironic, that along with his recognized talent and ability to sell magazines, that’s part of the reason he is the only one from 1D to now be on the cover RS. (3/3)
oh interesting! I actually never got around to listening to that podcast (TOO MUCH STUFF HAPPENING AT THE SAME TIME). Thanks for this info, anon!
So I actually liked the Rolling Stone podcast on Taylor. I LOVE IT WHEN PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT TAYLOR THE SONGWRITER AND NOT THEIR DUMB BARELY ORIGINAL OPINIONS ABOUT TAYLOR THE CELEBRITY. Here are the things that I liked or had thoughts about: warning (all caps abuse and some barely coherent rambling ahead)
1. Demarcating Taylor the celebrity and Taylor the musician/songwriter
2. An ‘astounding catalogue’ - Yes, Taylor’s back catalogue is amazing and if she never wrote another song it would still be amazing.
3. Acknowledging that Taylor’s career is unprecedented and unique to her. Yes, there are elements not unique to her (i.e. Shania Twain and the country to pop crossover) but she basically tapped into a gap in the market with young women who wanted to hear and relate to another female singer-songwriter regardless of genre.
4. A SINGER-SONGWRITER, FEELING-HAVER, SCARF-THROWER, MASTERPIECE-RIPPER-UPPER, A COMPLETE ORIGINAL (yes, but the lyrics clearly said who did the masterpiece ripping, what’s with people not paying attention to the pronouns in All too Well? Andy Cohen clearly did not listen to ATW properly or he would know exactly where the scarf is)
5. WTF FEARLESS IS NOT TAYLOR’S FOURTH BEST ALBUM.
6. ‘The smallest things inflated into operatic proportions’ - YES. Like one of Taylor’s greatest songwriting talents is taking small mundane things (the seconds of first eye-contact, a boring dinner party or event, dancing in the refrigerator light, moving the chairs so you can dance, everything in 22 etc.) and attaching them to such magnified and blown up emotions that they feel special and epic. I honestly don’t think Taylor cares about reality in the slightest in the sense that she makes the events in her song match her huge feelings about them. I bet 100% that none of the subjects in her songs are half as interesting as she makes them out to be. It’s called writing.
7. ON A RELATED POINT: pointing out how the idea that Taylor is a diarist is super condescending, sexist and plain stupid. SHE MAKES FUCKING ART, PEOPLE.
8. THE BEST POP STRATEGIST OF THE NEW MILLENIUM / YOU’RE SO VAIN BY CARLY SIMON / NEVER CONFIRMING OR DENYING WHO A SONG IS ABOUT (BECAUSE IT DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER AND THE SUBJECT OF A TAYLOR SWIFT SONG IS NEVER AS INTERESTING AS TAYLOR SWIFT HERSELF)
9. LOL SONGS ABOUT JAKE GYLLENHAAL WILL BE FAMOUS LONG AFTER NO ONE KNOWS WHO JAKE GYLLENHAAL IS.
10. Look if Bad Blood is actually about KP, maybe the bad pop and dumb lyrics are on purpose? Like how do people not hear how much it sounds like a KP song just like Dear John reads John Mayer for filth while sounding like a John Mayer song? NO ONE CAN CONVINCE ME THAT THIS IS NOT ON PURPOSE AND I WILL STAN FOR LIFE FOR THIS VERY REASON. Though on Bad Blood I will agree that ‘her excellence lays in nuance and this song has none’ but again I think this is the whole point.
11. Why mention Taylor Swift and Fall Out Boy and forget to talk about her cover of Sugar We’re Going Down?
12. The song with Boys like Girls? I’ve never heard of this song before?!? Did everyone collectively wipe it from their memories? I agree that Taylor loves the idea of duets but they don’t work (so far. EHC is the best of the lot, and I LOVE that they pointed out that it sounds like Ed is listening to her and responding but still…it’s sweet but a bit of a snooze. I think this goes back to how none of these people are ever as interesting as Taylor so I don’t need them taking up time and oxygen.
13. LOL ALICE COOPER. Look What You Made Me Do does lend itself really well to metal and hard rock covers which is interesting.
14.”There is something so misogynistic about assuming that everything she does has to do with some counterpoint to some famous dude that has a thing against her” 👏 👏 👏
15. I agree that the intentions behind Innocent were sweet but if I read into what purpose the song supposedly served, it does come off as super patronizing and is uncomfortable. I think 100% this song was written about something else and repurposed a little.
"She’s never going to do a greatest hits tour, she’s going to say, ‘I’ve got two hours or three hours and I’m going to focus on the new songs because that’s where my heart is right now."- RS reporter R. Sheffield on playing mostly new songs for each tour - Taylor Swift Podcast - rollingstone*com/music/news/taylor-swift-rolling-stone-music-now-podcast-w505386 - 1/ itunes*apple*com/us/podcast/rolling-stone-music-now/id1078431985?mt=2 - 2/ open*spotify*com/show/0jCfnXfdYhwIM2I4x7SxZx
Yeah, she’s in a league where she can do a tour where 3 quarter of the setlist being songs from the new album. That’s how strong her album repetoire is. Only a few artist can do that tbh.
I mean, some artist had to play 1 quarter of new stuffs from the album and 3 quarter from their past hits.
Tay at most played 4 and a half-ish worth of past hits. (For example with 1989 Tour she played IKYWT, WANEGBT, surpise song, LS and a smidge of Enchanted)
Some Rolling Stones podcast thoughts cont. Gratuitous caps lock abuse ahead again.
SIDE NOTE: WHEN IS SOMEONE GOING TO HIRE ME TO BE A TAYLOR SWIFT/POP MUSIC SCHOLAR. I will write for next to nothing because I love it and it will be better than this hasty scribble.
16. I think retaining that child-like sense of wonder and excitement about things is important to Taylor and one of the endearing things about her. It’s what redeems WTNY and I like how they related it to McCartney and how when they get excited about something, it’s like they’ve invented it. How many times do you think someone that talks to Taylor has heard some variation of the phrase, “omg, I just found the best new thing!?” come out of her mouth.
17. How many times has WTNY been used in a film montage? That song is practically made for the montage of ‘small town person goes to the Big Apple and is wandering around the streets, wide-eyed and the music stops when they step out into the road and almost get run over by a taxi’ cliche. I can only recall it being used in that movie Rebel Wilson was in, but maybe more?
18. I LOVE MELODRAMATIC SELF_DRAMATISING TAYLOR. Her life is her own self-written play and so much of 1989, in particular, is structured like a play. I love how sometimes Taylor calls attention to the fact that she is the writer of her own ‘fiction’, see literally the entirety of Story of Us.
19. PEOPLE DO FORGET ABOUT EYES OPEN. WHYYYYYYYY
20. TBH I feel like in some ways Speak Now has some very distinctive rock elements to it musically that never get mentioned ever. There’s a lot of heavy guitar on some of those songs (Sparks Fly etc.) that are different from the (to my ear, cleaner sounding) stadium rock on Red.
21. TBH x2 I ALSO REALLY HAD MY HEART SET ON TS6 BEING ROCK BUT MOSTLY BECAUSE TAYLOR GOT MY HOPES UP WITH THE ROCK VERSIONS OF SONGS ON TOUR. THE WANGBT ROCK VERSION ON THE 1989 TOUR INCREDIBLE. It is so fucking good and it makes the song sound angry and dramatic rather than silly. Taylor, you tease.
22. This wasn’t in the podcast but I like how the list had 22 at number 22 and 15 at 15. I feel like that is the kind of quirk that Taylor would do/like.
23. I WILL 100% BUILD AN ALTAR AND PRAY ON MY KNEES EVERY DAY FOR ROCK TAYLOR. I DON’T CARE WHAT I HAVE TO DO. I WILL START A CULT. I WILL MAKE A BLOOD SACRIFICE IF THAT’S WHAT IS REQUIRED.
24. The Lucky One is another one of Taylor’s songs that sound upbeat but is kind of sad. I wonder if the verse, “And they still tell the legend of how you disappeared/ took your money and your dignity and got the hell out / they say you brought a bunch of land somewhere / chose the rose garden over Madison Square” is prophetic. Yikes.
25. The Best Day - “another song that is broader than people want to imagine”. It’s so painfully obvious how people want to believe that all Taylor writes about is being wronged/dumped by boys and dumb celebrity feuds because it’s an easy and cheap way to dismiss her (her songwriting, her talent, her experiences) when if you actually listened to her discography you would know that’s not true.
26. “NOPE THIS IS SAD AND TRAGIC”. HAHAHA SUCH A TAYLOR MOVE, I LOVE IT. THE WRITER IN ME WOULD HAVE AGONISED FOR DAYS OVER WHETHER USING BOTH TRAGIC AND SAD WAS TOO WILDLY SELF INDULGENT BUT TAYLOR DOES NOT GIVE A FUCK.
27. Someone write a thesis on Morrissey / Taylor. I would but I’m already writing a thesis and it’s killing me. Probably why I wrote this instead of doing actual work.
28. ‘Our song is a slamming screendoor’ IS A KILLER HOOK!!! IT’S SO EVOCATIVE. WE STAN AN AMAZING SONGWRITER.
29. YES I LOVE HOW THEY MENTION HOW LONG THE SONGS ON SPEAK NOW ARE AND HOW THEY GET TO A WHOLE OTHER LEVEL AROUND THE 4MIN MARK. I love how this is something that distinguishes Speak Now and solo written Taylor songs mostly, you can bet the label might have tried to cut some of these or how an editor with a strong hand would’ve demanded she chop time off of these. The only thing that makes me believe in the 10 min All Too Well version is that, it’s exactly the kind of thing Taylor would do before someone like Liz Rose would rein her in a bit or help her edit.
30. FINALLY SOME LONG LIVE LOVE. TAYLOR SHOULD NEVER STOP PLAYING LONG LIVE AS THE FINAL SONG OF THE WHOLE TOUR. CRIES FOREVER.
31. EVERYONE AGREES NEW ROMANTICS SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE ALBUM OPENER OF THE MAIN ALBUM AND THE TOUR OPENER. AND GOTTEN A PROPER VIDEO. WHY DID TAYLOR DISRESPECT NEW ROMANTICS LIKE THIS??!!?
32. I have nothing to say about All Too Well being top. It’s a no-brainer.
The latest episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, our first-ever podcast, is now available. Listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or check it out below.
Live in the studio with Tegan and Sara, who discuss their turn to pop, their influence on Taylor Swift, their future musical plans and much more. Plus, in an exclusive interview, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, shows off his considerable music-geek chops, chatting about the Replacements and other favorite bands.
Note: TS /1980′s music influence discussion is from 10:50-13:30