dad from day one: Jack’s First Crush, Taylor Swift

Week 23 (5 months).

I recognize the fact Jack is a pretty low maintenance baby, but one thing that typically is never easy with him is getting him to fall asleep when he needs to.  It’s just that he has so much fun when he’s awake that he doesn’t want to miss out on the action by sleeping through it.

The few rare times I’ve actually seen him just fall asleep on his own were after my entire family had exhausted him all day from non-stop playing.  But as far as just day to day life, when it’s just him and my wife and I here at the house, I would say that helping him fall asleep is more than slightly harder than solving a Rubik’s Cube. Because I know for a fact I can solve the Rubik’s Cube in less than five minutes each time- getting Jack to fall asleep, on the other hand, often takes at least twice or thrice that long.  And even then, there is no guarantee he will actually enter Sleepyland.

Through a strategy my wife invented and perfected, and that I do my best to emulate, Jack must be wrapped up into a “baby burrito” (tightly in a blanket). Then he must be rhythmically rocked in long, quick swoops.  If done right, and he is tired enough, Jack becomes hypnotized and soon stops fighting the “sleep monkey”.

But occasionally, when Jack is crying too fiercely, we have to bring out the special weapon: Taylor Swift.  For pretty much all of Jack’s life, the CD we have kept in the stereo is Taylor Swift’s newest album, Speak Now.  Jack will fight through the first half of the first track, “Mine”, but usually by the middle of the second song, “Sparks Fly”, Taylor has sung him to sleep.

When I say this, I’m not saying this to be “cute” the way people thank celebrities or inanimate objects on their Facebook  status or Twitter (like ““Dear Starbucks, what would I ever do with you?”); instead, I literally mean what I am about to say.  If somehow for some reason Taylor Swift stumbled upon this “dad from day one” post, here is what I have to say:

“Dear Taylor Swift, thank you for recording Speak Now.  Not only do my wife and I really like it, but it is very soothing to our son.  You have helped us get him to go to sleep more times than we can count.  We think he has a crush on you.”

Also, don’t forget that tomorrow night (Wednesday, April 27th, my friend Diana will be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune.  She gave me the idea for my upcoming “dad from day one” spin-off.

Why Everybody Loves Taylor Swift (Plus, Does Taylor Swift Have a Heart Tattoo on Her Foot?)

This is the year of Taylor Swift.  America loves her.  Not just 14 year-old girls twittering about New Moon.  What is so universally likeable about this 5’11” Pennsylvania native?  She’s truly different.  She’s herself.  And she’s kinda dorky.

She’s normal.  Down to Earth.  And most importantly, genuinely humble.  And for a mega-celebrity, that makes her stick out.  In a very good way.

I have so much respect for Taylor Swift.  Not because of her clever songs which she writes herself (which is extremely rare in Country music) or her superstar status.  But instead, her extreme maturity for her young age.  And her sincerity.

And while much of old school Nashville sourly balks at her success, there is a reason she has made it this far at age 19.  She has the ability to connect with other people.  No matter how well a song is written or performed, it’s the feeling that a listener can relate to the artist and/or the song that causes popularity.

Her character was epitomized during that pivotal Kanye West moment.  She didn’t defend herself.  She didn’t get angry.  She didn’t cry.  She didn’t run off stage.  She just stood there.

And while she has allowed the media around her to poke fun at Kanye’s actions in her presence (SNL and the CMA Awards, in particular) she hasn’t bitterly belittled Kanye West via television or Internet.

That’s not what we are used to seeing.  That’s different.  That’s unique.  That’s class.  She set her self apart from everything artificial we could assume about someone in the entertainment industry.

Last night I tuned in to watch The Office but instead of that being on, NBC had a special about the most intriguing people of 2009.  They saved Taylor Swift to the very end.  In her interview she explained that she has always been herself and how important that is to her.

She’s right.  That’s a lot of why so many people are drawn to her.  (She sold on Madison Square Gardens in literally one minute.)  She’s real.

Taylor Swift doesn’t have to sell her music by dancing in skimpy shorts while pretending an ice cream stand is a dance pole at a strip club.  Or kiss Madonna at an awards show.  Or try to be edgy in any way.  She doesn’t have to try to be anything.  She just is.  Herself.

She’s just Taylor Swift.  And despite her outward appearance and her talent, she has a dorky side that shows through.  That vulnerability and humbleness intrigues people.

Authenticity is hard to come by.

Bonus: Does Taylor Swift have a heart tattoo on her foot?

The answer is no.  It’s not real.  She explains in this interview that is was drawn on to entertain the idea of getting a real one.

John Mayer’s Battle Studies: The Newest Installment from the Half-Jewish, Tattoo-Sleeved Guitar God

There are certain male musicians who while they seemingly have a unisex audience, it’s mainly women who are openly proud fans. Key examples: Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban.

Then there are those male musicians who seemingly have a feminine audience, yet they also earn the genuine respect of men who recognize their talent despite their charm. Key examples: Michael Buble and Jason Mraz. But the epitome of this category is none other than the 6’ 3”, tattoo-sleeved, half-Jewish, Connecticut native, John Mayer.

His most romantic songs are typically my least favorite- “Your Body is a Wonderland” and “Come Back to Bed”. What draws me most to his music is a quality found in his lesser hits like “83” and “Something’s Missing”. Half nostalgic, half philosophical.

In reviewing any genre of entertainment, I can’t say any one thing is the best. I can only say what is my personal favorite. Because my favorite is simply an opinion; I am not qualified to declare what is best- that would go beyond a matter of opinion.

That being said, my favorite John Mayer album is his 2003 Heavier Things. It features the hits “Bigger than My Body”, “Daughters”, and “Clarity” (“ah whoo-ew… ah whoo-ew”). Along with its less featured songs “New Deep”, “Home Life”, “Split Screen Sadness” and “Wheel”.

The cover of this album itself perfectly captures the style and direction of the music. It represents a simple sense of timelessness, yet at the same time somehow reminds of me of Eric Clapton and/or Sting between 1988 and 1993.

I say that to say this. John Mayer’s newest album, Battle Studies, is a hybrid of two of my favorite things of his: 1) The album Heavier Things and 2) his very much underappreciated song “I Don’t Trust Myself with Loving You” from his 2006 album Continuum.

Very bluesy: “Fell down on my knees, asked the Lord for mercy, said ‘help me if you please’” (“Crossroads”).

Very jazzy: “Who says I can’t get stoned?” (“Who Says”)

Very soft rock: “I’ve got a hammer and a heart of glass- I gotta know right now which walls to smash” (War of My Life).

I decided half-way through this decade that John Mayer is incapable of releasing an album that isn’t good. I stand by that. Battle Studies is completely up to par with all his other recordings. But just like how Dave Matthews Band will never be able to top their Crash album, in my mind John Mayer will never be able to top Heavier Things.

Actually I see Battle Studies as a direct sequel (yet not necessarily a continuation) of Heavier Things. So in other words, I love it.

A year ago I posted a review of my favorite albums of 2008, and in a prophetic moment, I praised the then unknown song “People are Crazy” by Billy Currington. A few months later it was released as a single and went to #1.

Therefore, I will predict the soon-to-be hits from Battle Studies. The most obvious is the industrial-infused groovy tune “Assassins”. John has never sounded more like an African-American lead singer of an alternative rock band than he does in this song. Maybe it’s because this song has so many Michael Jackson qualities about it.

Like it was written with “Smooth Criminal”, “Dirty Diana” and “Give in to Me” in mind: “I work in the dead of night when the roads are quiet and no one is around… I’m an assassin and I had a job to do… Little did I know that girl was an assassin too.”

Another song destined to be a radio favorite is “Half of My Heart”. Perfect catchy melody. Perfect opening line: “I was born in the arms of imaginary friends.” Perfect choice of a female vocalist to do a song with: Taylor Swift.

The only downfall is that there’s not enough Taylor Swift in this song. She just does background vocals towards the end. Every time I hear it, I keep hoping the song has magically changed since the last time I heard it and that the song has become a true duet like the immaculately crafted “Lucky I’m in Love” by Jason Mraz with Colbie Caillat. Great song though: “Half of my heart is a shotgun wedding to a bride with a paper ring.”

Often when a musician or actor becomes a superstar, showing up in the tabloid magazines, the authenticity of their art suffers. Despite dating Jennifer Anniston and Jessica Simpson (to name a few) , his art hasn’t suffered (just his personal reputation). He’s still got the talent. Just as much as ever. Going beyond the rut of “the same three chords” compositions and “I miss you baby” lyrics.

And not that this takes away from his music at all, but this lifestyle definitely shows up in his song content. Like in “Perfectly Lonely”- “Had a little love but I spread it thin. Falling in her arms and out again. Made a bad name for my game ‘round town.” It’s also evident in the future hit which will inevitably be featured on several romantic comedy soundtracks, “Heartbreak Warfare”.

Gone is the charming, mysterious John Mayer from the beginning of the decade. Gone is the gentleman. Apathy and aimlessness are starting to show up in his attitude and lyrics. I don’t like his music any less because of it. But I do recognize the change.

Though this may actually be hurting him with his current single, “Who Says”, which is his lowest charting single, breaking his string of 5 consecutive Top 10 singles. This song much departs from his former classy charm, containing lyrics like this: “Call up a girl I used to know, fake love for an hour or so” and “I don’t remember you looking any better. Then again I don’t remember you”.

Not to mention the song’s constant references to marijuana use.

John Mayer is suffering from what I call “King Solomon Syndrome”. King Solomon had it all: Extreme wealth, fame, and wisdom. And 700 wives. And 300 concubines. But by the end of his life when he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, he said it was all meaningless. None of it made him happy.

At least at an early age, John Mayer recognizes something’s missing.

Related Post by the Same Author:

John Mayer’s Stupid Mouth

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on John Mayer, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one