Taylor Swift’s father was her best promoter, and maybe the most dedicated father ever.
I met Scott Swift in 2004, just a while after he moved his family to Nashville to pursue Taylor’s country music career. He was a frequent guest at the hotel where I worked, doing business at a nearby Merrill Lynch office.
His eyes would light up when he spoke of Taylor. He brought 8 x 10 glossies of this 14 year old aspiring artist that made us pause; she looked to be about 25 in those photos, and absolutely stunning. He left a few copies at the front desk, I’m still not sure who claimed them, they might have even been trashed.
We were amazed. This man had so much faith in his child’s dream, he gave up his home nearby and moved his family and financial business to Nashville.
Who does things like that ?
On one of his visits, he brought us an audio tape. She did not yet have a record deal, but he was still confident.
I have to admit, I set the tape aside, convinced that this was just another over zealous father who might have lovingly exaggerated her potential.
But still…he moved his life to Nashville ! There had to be something there.
My son was a musician of a very different nature, he composed music and played bass in a hardcore punk band. My daughter was home from college for the summer.
We all listened to the tape together.
It was dreadful.
I’m sure there was value in her songwriting, we didn’t have a copy of the lyrics. But the voice was so dissonant that it was distracting. We gave up after one song, smiled at each other at this father’s folly, and maybe felt a bit sad for the lives that he’d changed in a pursuit that seemed sure to fail.
We were wrong.
What happened to Taylor over the next few years was almost unprecedented in the music industry.
She conquered Nashville in short order and moved on to become, well, Taylor Swift !
The tape is still somewhere in the basement, buried in a storage box.
It will turn up one day, I’ll surely give it another listen.