Tag Archives: Music

Reflections on Midnights

A review of Taylor Swift’s latest album.

With twenty songs, Taylor over-delivered on her promise of thirteen new tracks dropping on the 20th of October. Midnights, and the extended 3 AM tracks, is one of those albums that takes a few subsequent listens before the full impact of her words hit you. Like all of her music, I hear sung poetry and could spend days in her worded worlds.

On first listen, I can understand those who will make typical comments about the homogeny of the tracks. However, as you press replay and listen individually to each song, Taylor’s genius shines through each complete encapsulation of the types of thoughts that keep you up, keep you dancing, and keep you dreaming past midnight.

If I were to get into all twenty, we would be here all day. So for your enjoyment, and mine, here are my first five favorites.

I wanna brainwash you into loving me forever

Starting with a this-city-is-too-small scene in her first lines, Taylor captures that feeling that burns just outside the static that clings to you and your bottle. The synapses of electricity and nerves that follow you through nights spent betwixt flashing lights and empty alleyways.

Those spiraling midnights that pass without time into 3 AMs without you caring, so long as they pass with the ones you choose to love tonight.

This track inescapably brings me back to those first nights out when I was eighteen with my new friends in Chicago. Drinking cheap wine through quiet alleys, not knowing the difference between this and champagne in Paris. The only thing we need to feel is the embrace of youth that adorns everything in that hyper-sentimentality of now.

And this is what Taylor delivers.

High Infidelity
Put on your records and regret me
I bent the truth too far tonight
I was dancing around, dancing around it

With the knowledge of Zoë Kravits’ collaboration on this album, it is hard to believe that she did not have a hand in the creation of this song. That being said, the most notable similarities between High Infidelity and the closely named High Fidelity, come in Taylor’s use of record-related imagery.

Telling her lover to “put on [their] records… put on [their] headphones and burn [her] city,” Taylor cues her listeners into the presence of music within the relationship she describes. Though “burn my city” can be taken as an instruction to her lover to get back at her by erasing something she loves, I prefer to think of it as a continuation of the record-era imagery.

She knows that her lover may put on their own records and drown their regret in familiar music, but will ultimately turn on her memory. Playing their scenes together through headphones connected to a burned CD implies that these good ‘ole days memories have not been made since we traded music on silver disks.

Familiarity breeds contempt
So put me in the basement

This hit a little too close to home. With this track, Taylor perfectly encapsulates the sharp line you walk when you love yourself more than the one you love does.

In her first verse, she sets the tone of the relationship described as she admits to being too nice to her lover, putting them first while she no longer makes their top five. Though she communicates this longing for their affection, she also breaks from any ultimate attachment by letting them know, “by the way, I’m going out tonight.”

As the song continues, Taylor notes that although her lover no longer sees her shimmer, it is still brilliant for her and everyone else. “Whats a girl gonna do? A diamonds gotta shine”

Placing some distance between her and her lover, blinded by familiarity, she tells the men who come like moths to her flame that she “can still say I don’t remember” if she has a man. If he wants to draw her back into the “penthouse of [his] heart” that she desired, he will have to wait in line.

The dichotomy of your relationship with yourself while you love someone more than they love you is hard to express with all the layered nuance and particular quality of self-love, but Taylor puts it plainly. “I miss you, but I miss sparkling.”

Vigilante Shit
He was doin’ lines and crossin’ all of mine…
Picture me, thick as thieves with your ex-wife

Introducing more characters in her sung story, Taylor depicts an intertwined relationship between her speaker and an ex-husband and wife.

Ending most of the verses and versions of the chorus with a variation of “I don’t dress for women, I don’t dress for men, lately I’ve been dressing for revenge,” she flips the script of the typical dynamic between a couple and a mistress. “Ladies always rise above,” can be identified as the driving theme behind her lines, as she goes on to describe collaborations with his ex-wife. Taylor gives her proof, draws in the law, and gets even, on her vigilante shit.

This inverse, illustrating no scorned and broken woman, or the hysterical mania that is stereotypically prescribed to wronged women, takes on sultry overtones. The slow, vibrating beat swells behind her voice as she sings lines like, “she looks so pretty, drivin’ in your benz,” and “don’t get sad, get even.”

Does it feel like everything’s just second best
After that meteor strike?

When I listen to lyrical music, I most commonly find (or seek out) songs that I can identify direct feelings with. Songs where I can be the abandoned woman, cursing or mourning her inadequate lover. But this time, Taylor hit me over the head with every question I asked myself in those first months of loss. No anger or resentment yet, just questions and imagined scenarios that reply through your mind.

“Good girl, sad boy,” “you painted all my nights a color I’ve been searching for since,” and “did you wish you put up more of a fight when she said it was too much?” Damn Taylor.

There are too many perfect communications of the miscommunications that haunt you as the night creeps into day. The questions you close your eyes and ask your ceiling a million times until one night, you just fall asleep.

And that is what Midnights is all about.

Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart

A name too long to capture the simple beauty of his music. 

Ears open and facing the open Opera, I took it in. Horns vibrating from lips pursed and pressed to the narrow end. Strings shuddering with the touch of bow hair. Precision in the procession of Mozart’s music. 

Dressed in wigs and white ankles, the orchestra arrives. 

Now though the music is Mozart’s, his command never graced this hall. Big and beautiful, the Wiener Musikverein opened in 1870, just under eighty years after his death. 

Despite the anachronism, the Wiener Musikverein’s style is that of the high renaissance, its designers enforcing strict historicism in its form. 

With high ceilings and gold galore, the site is impressive. 

Wiener Musikverein

Crystal sparkles like a smile with translucent teeth

One bling, one bright star on hanging canines

Lips laced with golden antiquity.


Dripping there- down the walls from coated ceiling 

Here- across from our balcony- more.

Deep winds and slow strings

weave something more valuable if you listen.

Trace the walls with your eyes, with

Ears pressed firm to solid beauty, hear,

the music congealing and falling

Like loose crystal between us.

But I am getting ahead of myself. You can’t have the music without the man. Let’s start at the beginning. 

1756, Mozart is born in Salzburg. Within his sixth year, he is paraded around the country as a prodigy. Just a child, the music flows easily from his nimble fingers. It is in Vienna where he spends most of his years composing and playing, elevating the city to a new standard of music.

The city of music, this is what I thought when I booked my ticket to Vienna. Though the city is known for a multitude of artists, Mozart is at the forefront, his name marking more cafes and shops than any other, vendors grasping at adjacent notoriety. 

I decided to play along, poking my head in such storefronts and strolling through the manicured garden that encircles Mozart’s monument. 

It was beautiful. He is immortalized in frozen figure, but the tribute is alive. Flowers grow from under his feet and form a giant treble clef in the grass.

Resting my legs on a park bench adjacent to the monument, I began researching Mozart concerts and quickly found the Concert Wiener Mozart Orchester. The Orchester plays through two hours’ worth of Mozart’s most notable pieces.

I booked it, pulled out my little black dress, and began a slow walk to the concert hall. Stopping for dinner and a glass of wine, I wrote.


Red wine for my red lipstick

More rouge than red

Color set to fade above

My corset pinned and clasped a hundred little times

Over silk and cotton until I settle on nothing

It is best to be bare

To be stripped of every awkward article until

The corset fits just right

Taut around torso

Something to look at before my face

The lipstick is fading after all

Rouge on the ocean of open lips

And who am I if not pretending

As my salad settled, I continued my stroll to the Wiener Musikverein. I still had an hour and a half to kill, and the concert hall stood in all its evening glory in front of me. 

I took a lap around the block, wandering through side streets and storefronts I found myself in the deafening silence of a hotel restaurant. The friendly waiter went erily quiet as soon as we passed through the arched doors, and I knew what was happening. I was among the rich.

Accidental Glass of Rose

The rich do not speak, they murmur

Taken by the cafe quiet, they are silent.

Young girl can’t return my smile

The small movement is hushed

By stone-cold parents,

Shushed lips vibrating together for snide from

White face and white hair spiked like an aristocratic Guy Ferrari.

The waiter is more than kind to me,

I wonder how he got here.

Where he smiled before preparing these silver platers

How they shine, sparking 

around an inch of food for €55.

I’ve been there too,

Serving the silent,

Paid for pretending,

For smiling at their luxury of nothing. 

Sipping my single glass of rose, I read and wrote as I watched the time tick by. At last, it was five til eight, and I stood in line for the concert, excited and slightly uncomfortable with the abundance and glamour around me.

Nevertheless, I mounted the stairs and took to my balcony view, a birds-eye just over the musicians, perfect for quiet observation. 

White ankles and calves starched to the knee. Here, legs turn black with a fold, leading up to yellow, blue, green, and purple, all colors gold with threads of antiquity. 

The music swells and changes, a dull churning consuming sound, and this is just the first song. We clap, polite silence save the slap of skin on skin. We must clap before and after every piece, just as they must don powdered wigs for posterity. 

For the semantics of the symphony.