I was surprised the other morning to find that the comedic genius Ray Stevens and I have something in common.
I am fairly sure Taylor Swift is stalking me, too.
Now, before anyone starts breaking out the syringes full of happy-drugs, let me explain. It just seems like her music is everywhere I turn, and it’s getting a little tiresome. Everywhere I go, I hear her latest song, which I think is called “Shake It Off,” and designed to make people frenetically dance (which I do not do, unless I have fireants in my overalls).
Miss Swift has, to her credit, avoided most of the pop-tart scandals that earn that sardonic moniker, which is to say she has reached her mid-twenties without being married multiple times, getting arrested for drug and alcohol use, neglecting to wear underwear, or licking doughnuts. There were a few rather worrisome music videos, but those are things which I don’t watch anyway, except under extraordinary standards.
There was some kind of dustup involving a couple of idiot celebrity do-nothings who may or may not have misquoted her. Then there was the whole thing at the Grammies where a cop-hating race-baiting rapper with some serious personal issues interrupted her acceptance speech and ended up hoisting himself on his own petard. Her own politics, naturally, have been determined by what is popular in Hollywood, but sadly, that’s to be expected. But for the most part, I guess, Miss Swift has led a fairly innocuous existence, at least in my corner of the world.
Until that most recent dang song came out.
Having grown up surrounded by an eclectic assemblage of music, I have always been prone to being infected by earworms, those frustrating songs that get in your brain and eat their way through to the other ear, opening a channel for another song. There have been plenty of candidates: Louie, Louie; Mambo No. 5; Smoke on the Water; one particularly ear-piercing Rachmanioff whose title I cannot recall; Surfin’ Bird; Zombie Jamboree; Man of Constant Sorrow; that masterpiece of the vulgar double entendre, Telephone Man; or some songs which were flagrantly designed to lock into one’s mind so one would buy the album, back when they still made albums. Notwithstanding the fact that I like some of the songs that embed themselves like mold spores in the cerebral cortex, even music that one loves can get a bit tiresome when you awaken at 3 a.m. with Steppenwolf on your mind.
It’s beyond irritating when said song is by an artist I really don’t care about one way or the other. It’s like Miss Swift is determined to somehow become a part of my daily life, and it ain’t happening, not while I have a single recording from Jethro Tull’s medieval-inspired album left in my cold, deaf hands.
I’m sorry, Miss Taylor – may I call you that? – but it just isn’t meant to be. In the words of Jim Reeves, you’ll get along.
I remember, kind of, when her career began; I think Miss Rhonda may have played one or two of Miss Taylor’s earlier songs when WRRZ was still on the air. Sadly, most of the modern country music that deserved airtime went the way of small-market AM stations around that same time. Miss Taylor hadn’t even touched on controversial yet, so she was just another young female singer. I could ignore her.
Then came stardom, a fawning media, and screaming teen girls, which likely produced drooling teen boys. Hence, her music started crossing over from what passes for country to what passes for pop. That made it easier for me to ignore her, as should most men of a certain age who lack children entranced with such music. Those with kids, especially girls, have an excuse, and my respect.
I cannot tell you how disturbing it is to hear a man my age admit that he voluntarily listens to pseudo-music that is computer-mixed and –programmed to elicit a particular reaction on the part of children the age of his children. The alarm bells go off and I reach for a gun.
But the problem is, when starlets reach a certain level of popularity – say, something like a net worth of $150 million or more – their music turns up everywhere.
That’s why I think Miss Taylor is stalking me.
For example – I made a pre-8 a.m. run to the grocery store the other day, after discovering that my beloved wife’s nincompoop of a husband forgot to buy coffee the night before. Where the piped-in music is usually at least tolerable stuff from my formative years, that was not the case on this particular morning. I walked in the door, and Miss Swift was urging the listener to shake it off, whatever “it” is. The cashier was singing to herself and dancing as she took my money.
I made it home safely with my can of black gold, and one of the new shows was on. What was the buffer music? You guessed it.
As I rolled down the window passing the big flea market, someone was demonstrating one of the many stereo systems he had available for sale. Was it Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Lynard Skynard, Chris LeDoux or the Allmans? No. Did I hear the Beach Boys, Glenn Miller, BB King, Waylon Jennings, Sonny Boy Williamson, Koko Taylor or Marty Robbins? No. Perhaps Heather Alexander, the Welsh Borderers or maybe Lion of Judah? Don’t be silly. Were Yellowman, Eric Clapton, Merle Haggard, the Rolling Stones, Third Day or the Gaithers blasting across the parking lot? Of course not.
There was Miss Taylor again.
Hence, I came to the conclusion she is indeed, somehow, stalking me. I turned off the location button on my phone just in case.
Miss Taylor, honey, listen: it would never work. I’m the most happily married man in the world, and have been since you were what, in nursery school? Your jetset lifestyle just wouldn’t fit me, and I doubt sincerely you have ever had those long manicured fingernails full of horsehair, chicken dirt and beaver castor. You’re pretty and all that, and you do have some real talent, apart from the digitally-generated mass-market approved computer program enhancements. You are nice to look at, and I am certain that you are very pleasant to smell.
But you need to quit following me. It ain’t happening. You may be heartbroken, young miss, but I am sure you can get over me. Just please, go away, little girl.
Oops—sorry. I bet Johnny Vee is stuck in your mind now, isn’t he?
Oh well. Just shake it off, honey.