Episodes: Taylor -- Why She Disappeared (with apologies to US Weekly)
|Emily VanDerWerff||May 26, 2017|
It's been nearly six months since Taylor Swift stepped into a fallow corn field near Gallatin, Tennessee, and faded from existence, and her friends and family remain heartbroken, with few answers and more questions by the day.
"I saw her in a dream," said a close personal friend, who declined to be identified, "and I thought she was trying to tell me where she went. But after telling me, 'Karlie, this is important!' she just recited a grocery list over and over."
Taylor's friend thinks perhaps the songstress was trying to tell her that she was happier in whatever nether-region she had gone to. "She had Cheez-its on the list," said our source. "Taylor would never have eaten Cheez-its."
A most unusual December morning
As has been reported numerous times in these very pages, Taylor was out for a countryside ride with her squad early on the morning of December 1, 2016.
"She was going to tell the squad about her plans for the future," said one source, who was not present that morning but has intimate knowledge of what transpired. "They involved a hard, alienating pivot into surf punk, followed by a bluegrass lullaby album for all the baby Swifties, followed by a Broadway musical, followed by a run for Tennessee's US Senate seat, to be vacated by Bob Corker in 2032.
"From there, the sky was the limit," our source said, wiping away a tear. "Now I think she maybe is part of the sky."
Friends claim that as Taylor stepped into the field to snap a photo of some deer, munching on frost-covered grass in the early morning hours, she seemed to have less definition with every step. At first, these friends say, she was mostly there but partially not, and with every step, there was a little less of her, until she was like an outline on the sky, and then she simply wasn't there at all.
"We ran out into the field, of course," said a friend who was there. "We could hear her telling us how beautiful the deer were for several hours, and then her voice faded, too."
The friends called long-time Taylor pal Lorde to perform an incantation that might yank the pop star back to this mortal plane, but were disheartened to learn that Lorde is not actually a witch. A quickly convened panel of the country's top Wiccans concluded that Wicca is not about performing magic spells, much less finding a way to save Taylor Swift from whatever ethereal dimension she wandered into out of a pocket of space and time.
"You're calling about Taylor Swift?" asked our source at the International Wiccan Council. When we replied in the affirmative, our source simply hung up.
"A music as of angels"
The field is owned by farmer David Lang, whose children have spent the past several months sitting amid the rows of corn, listening to the soft tinkling of the wind. When it whistles just so through the tiny plants, rustling their leaves, one can hear, "a music as of angels," according to Mr. Lang's daughter, Dakotah.
"I say it's her," Dakotah said. "She's really taking chances with her new sound. There are heavy influences of Fleetwood Mac, Black Sabbath, Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Wiggles, and modernist composer John Adams. It's a grand synthesis. Something truly new.
"If music were an unsolvable equation," said Dakotah, wide-eyed, "what she is doing in this moment is akin to what Matt Damon did in Good Will Hunting."
Friends say that this is totally within the bounds of what Taylor had hoped to do. Selena Gomez, who steadied herself enough to speak with us on the latest stop of her new tour, said, with a smile, "Taylor wanted to create something truly new. I'm not surprised she has given up the conventional in favor of sounds not all ears are ready to hear."
Even former squeeze Calvin Harris has made a pilgrimage to Gallatin, say some sources. "There was bad blood there, yes. But they were each very much in love with each other. And Calvin would love to bottle just a few drops of this new, majestic noise. He came to me quite shaken, saying that he knows why Taylor disappeared, but he cannot share that information with the world until the fourth seal be broken, praise be."
A publicity stunt?
Rival record company executives have tossed cold water on the idea that Taylor Swift might have stepped between the molecules into a world where colors are richer and the light is brighter, into a new space without war or pollution or pain, sort of like at the end of that one movie, Midnight Special. If such a space existed, they say, it should be for all of us, not just the Taylor Swifts of the world.
"I hear the arguments that we'd just befoul such a special place," said one rival record exec, "but let's be honest with ourselves: This is a marketing stunt. She'll come back with some new collection of songs about her last few boyfriends, and we'll all wonder why we fell for it. It's not a reinvention. It's an attempt to hide from the impossibility of ever becoming something other than yourself."
The record executive pointed to Harry Styles as someone who really felt like he disappeared into a void in space-time, then returned with a new message for a new age. "Great album," he concluded.
Others wonder if Taylor, long known for both her serial monogamy and her tight circle of gal pals, is at present rocking the Faerie Court, breaking the hearts of the spirits who live in the trees and welcoming all the dryads to the stage.
"I sit in that field sometimes and weep," said our initial source. "I feel quite clear that she says to me, 'Karlie, there will come a day when this will all make sense.' But then I look into the woods nearby and feel such a foreboding."
Sources say the woods are dark and deep, and there may be no center. On the edge, a keen yearning, a sound such as you might not hear again in this life. Look, briefly, and see such wonders.
(My thanks to Genevieve Valentine for riffing with me last week on how the above US Weekly cover headline is so much better if taken literally.)
Our Friday mailbag feature is a lot of fun! Please email me your questions over the course of the week, and I'll pick a few to answer. I'll always answer at least three per week, unless I just don't have the material. For ease of inbox search, please put "mailbag" somewhere in the subject line of your email. Thanks!
Episodes is published three-ish times per week, and more if I feel like it. It is mostly about television, except when it's not. Suggest topics for future installments via email or on Twitter. Read more of my work at Vox