A handful of lucky Swifties were on hand to catch Taylor Swift perform an intimate release day mini-concert at Sirius XM’s Manhattan headquarters on Friday. The 29-year-old pop powerhouse performed stripped-down acoustic versions of three tracks from her latest album, Lover After delivering soaring versions of “The Archer” and “You Need to Calm Down” on a pink guitar festooned with hearts, she moved to a candlelit baby grand piano to play “Daylight,” giving the album’s closer its very first public airing.
In addition to the music, Swift also answered a number of questions posed by enthusiastic fans. One asked if there was a particular piece of advice she wishes she could give her teenage self following more than a decade of accumulated wisdom and experience.
“I treated life like it was a report card, like I was being graded on every single moment of every single day,” she reflected. “And if I got less than an A-, I pretty much felt completely worthless. I still struggle with that every day. But what I would say is that life is not a report card. You’re not being graded on this moment to moment. Go easy on yourselves, kids. Be kind to yourselves.”
In response to another question, she admitted that kids in 2019 have it much more difficult than she did growing up in the pre-social media age. Speaking to a crowd of mostly young teenage fans, she advised them to go easy on the Facetuning, for the sake of their self-image. “You don’t need to look like a filter. You’re great.”
Of course, her latest songs were a frequent topic of the questions. Though she was hard-pressed to name a favorite song on the album, she was able to pick a lyrical passage that was particularly meaningful. She recited the lines from the track “Death By a Thousand Cuts”: “Our songs, our films, united we stand/Our country, guess it was a lawless land/Quiet my fears with the touch of your hand/Paper cut stains from our paper-thin plans.”
She also singled out “Soon You’ll Get Better” as the most emotionally fraught. A collaboration with the Dixie Chicks, the song is a stirring tribute to her mother Andrea, chronicling her strength and struggles amid her cancer battle.
“That’s a song I don’t know if I’ll ever play it live,” Swift admitted. “It’s just really difficult for me. It was hard to write. It’s hard to sing. It’s hard to listen to for me. But sometimes, music is like that. Sometimes it’s not just about stuff that was pleasant to feel.”
On the other hand, the tracks “Cornelia Street,” “Lover” and “Daylight” were name-checked as being the easiest to write — chiefly because she composed them alone.
“I love to collaborate and I love to co-write,” she explained. “You know which songs would be great to bring to these amazing collaborators. I’m so lucky to get to work with these people. When I’m writing a song and I think I’m going to stop it and bring it to a co-writer and I can’t, that’s when I end up finishing it myself, so that’s usually because the inspiration is so weirdly, effortlessly potent that I have to finish the song.”
Swift’s sense of pride was obvious as she performed the trio of songs, beaming as the crowd showed their appreciation. “It’s been a real joy. I really think it’s my favorite,” she said of Lover. “I love this album so much, and I’m so happy you love it too. It’s been a really good couple of days. I’m really having a great time.”