Fans of Taylor Swift have long said that her music has helped them through struggles big and small.
When she was a teenager singing about high-school loves and heartbreaks, fans said her lyrics were like hearing their diaries out loud. As those same fans have grown up alongside Swift, 33, they’ve said she’s helped them navigate adult life, heartbreak, devastating losses, and medical diagnoses.
Now, in a candidly honest essay, one man says Swift’s discography helped him through years of incarceration.
Joe Garcia, 53, said he first heard about Swift in jail shortly before he was sentenced to life in prison in 2009 for murder, he wrote in The New Yorker, published Saturday. At the time, he wasn’t very impressed, preferring artists like Prince instead.
In 2013, he was transferred to a lower security prison for good behavior, where he and his cellmate listened to the top 40 hits on a pocket radio.
“During that time, I heard tracks from ‘Red,’ Swift’s fourth studio album, virtually every hour. I was starting to enjoy them. Laying on the top bunk, I would listen to my cellmate’s snores and wait for ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ to come around again,” Garcia wrote in his essay.
Taylor Swift performs “Delicate.”
Garcia wrote that the songs made him think of his past loves, including a sweetheart who visited him in jail. He also reflected on his past, ruminating on Swift’s 2019 song “Daylight,” where she sings that she’s “been sleeping so long in a twenty-year dark night, and now I see daylight.”
“There was, in her voice, something intuitively pleasant and genuine and good, something that implies happiness or at least the possibility of happiness,” Garcia wrote in his essay. “When I listened to her music, I felt that I was still part of the world I had left behind.”
Garcia kept up with Swift’s music through the years, finding songs he liked on the albums “1989,” “Lover,” and lately, “Midnights.” He saw himself in the song “Anti-Hero,” where Swift sings that she’s “the problem”.
Garcia is due to face a parole board in the coming months and added that Swift’s discography pushed him to reflect on similar questions.
“In ‘Karma,’ Swift sings, ‘Ask me what I learned from all those years / Ask me what I earned from all those tears,'” Garcia wrote. “A few months from now, California’s Board of Parole Hearings will ask me questions like that. What have I learned? What do I have to show for my twenty years of incarceration?”