Super Bowl Column? Maybe So, Maybe Not

First confession: If Taylor Swift were performing one of her countless hit songs over my sound system right now, I wouldn’t even know who was singing. Second confession: I don’t have a sound system. But I do have a smart phone and ear buds, so that sort of counts. And I’ve never once asked it to play Taylor Swift.

Not because I dislike her. Quite the contrary. From all I know about Tay-Tay, I like her a lot. In shopping for my granddaughters’ Christmas presents in December, I ran across a Little Golden Book biography about Taylor that had become so popular it was backordered on Amazon. I found this intriguing partly because I love the Little Golden Books of old. The Saggy Baggy Elephant. Scuffy the Tugboat. The Little Red Caboose. Mr. Bell’s Fix-It Shop.  The Big Brown Bear. I read those books over and over to my own children and then to my grandchildren.

But who knew Little Golden Books were now in the biography business?  These days, you can learn about Willie Nelson and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Princess Diana and Dolly Parton and many, many others just by opening a Little Golden biography. I’m guessing, though, that none of those books have been sellouts like Taylor Swift’s was.

Luckily, the books arrived in time for Christmas and I read a copy before wrapping them. I learned a lot about Taylor, including that she was born in 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania, which I know is pronounced RED-ING, not REED-ING only because I’m a Monopoly player who has taken “A Ride on the Reading” many times. She was named after James Taylor, one of her parents’ favorite singers. Taylor loves cats and baking cookies. She developed a passion for the guitar when she was a young child.

Her parents took her on a trip to Nashville, where she handed out CDs of her own songs at studios on Music Row, when she was 11 years old. Two years later, the Swift family moved to Nashville so Taylor could pursue her dream. The rest, as they say, is history. She soon had a record contract. It wasn’t too many years before she crossed over from country music to pop. Now, at age 34, Taylor Swift is the most popular performer in the world.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you also know that she performed in Nashville last spring and that tickets—like tickets to all her concerts–were incredibly expensive and hard to come by. I didn’t go, but I know people who did. Unanimously, they say it was worth every penny.

And you almost certainly know that Taylor is dating Travis Kelce, star tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, who played the San Francisco Forty-Niners in the Super Bowl XVIII last Sunday. As I write this column, it’s February 10, the Saturday before that game. I know it’s the Chiefs’ fourth Super Bowl appearance in five years and that they won in 2023 and also in 2020, when they beat the Forty-Niners by a score of 31-20. But—obviously!–I don’t know who won this year’s game. I don’t know who performed in the halftime show. I don’t know which commercials I liked best. I don’t know how many times Taylor appeared on camera during the broadcast or if Travis surprised her with an engagement ring.

But I do know that I’ve become something of a Swifty. I think Taylor is lovely and loaded with talent. She’s genuine and generous. And her politics are my politics. I’m grateful that she encourages Americans to register and to vote. In fact, I like Taylor so much that I might hunt for “Shake It Off” on You Tube. I can listen to it on my sound system Sunday afternoon while I wait for the kick-off.

Now all I have to do is decide which team to pull for.

(February 17, 2024)