Taylor Swift Writes about Life ... Including ALTAMONT Life?

A.J. Gallitz

A.J. Gallitz

Friday, January 19, 2024
Taylor Swift Writes about Life ... Including ALTAMONT Life?

Taylor Swift taking inspiration from Altamont students? Taylor Swift photo by iHeartRadioCA, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Photo of The Altamont School by Sean Flynt.

Due to her immense popularity, it has become nearly impossible to escape the ever-presence of songwriter Taylor Swift. Whether you love her or hate her, it is undeniable that she has become a major figure in pop culture. Swift’s fans, “Swifties,” especially appreciate the relatability of her music. Though she writes about specific situations, she writes about emotions using lyrics that everyone can relate to in some way. In the past year I have become much more familiar with her work. And something that struck me recently while listening to her Folklore album is that several songs on the album remind me of Altamont (maybe I spend too much time here). Swift wrote the album by creating a universe of fictional characters and writing songs about predicaments they get themselves into. Although the situations they find themselves in don’t necessarily relate to our school environment, specific lyrics apply to our school perfectly. 

Below are lyrics from folklore (she doesn't use capitals with this album) and why they remind me of Altamont.

From the song “august”: 

“But I can see us lost in the memory

 August slipped away into a moment in time

‘Cause it was never mine.”

Have you ever heard an adult talk about their time in high school? Most adults I know look back on high school as some of the best or at least most formative years of their lives, but the sentiment I most often hear is, “It goes fast.” While Taylor wrote August presumably about a person, if you replace every instance of the word “August” with “Altamont,” it becomes a song about the fleeting nature of high school that any graduate will be happy to tell you about. 

From the song “this is me trying”:

“I’ve been having a hard time adjusting

Had the shiniest wheels, now they’re rusting

I just wanted you to know that this is me trying. 

At least I’m trying.”

Altamont has a reputation for giving students a top tier education. That means that it attracts students who are bright and motivated and have big dreams for their careers. It also means, however, that many students begin their Altamont journey with total faith in their intellectual abilities. The lyrics in “this is me trying” remind me of the point that almost everyone reaches in their Altamont journey where that confidence is shaken. I have watched so many kids in crisis when they stop believing in themselves temporarily after getting a couple bad grades. At that point, there are two paths that people take: they either decide that they are “bad at school” and stop trying, or they pick themselves back up and use their failures as motivation to keep trying. Towards the end of the song, she says, “at least I’m trying,” identifying herself with the latter group who keep going through adversity. 

From the song “illicit affairs”:

“You taught me a secret language you know I can’t speak with anyone else.”

Every organization has a specific culture and with that comes a general language and attitude. If you ever have the pleasure of spending time with Altamont alumni (some of whom are faculty members), you may notice that although they are all unique in interest and in personality, they share the same energy. They have the same sort of enthusiasm towards learning, similar senses of humor, and they use similar words. As someone who has become a product of the school, it makes me happy to talk to them because they just “get it” to an extent that nobody else can. We speak the same language.

“For you I would ruin myself a million little times.”

The relationship between Altamont and its graduates is undeniably special. People really appreciate the time they spend here. That is why there are so many students whose parents went here. It is also why so many teachers are alums. It is not always their most lucrative option, but they feel comfortable returning to this place that means so much to them. 

From the song “mirrorball”:

“I’m a mirrorball. I’ll show you every version of yourself tonight.”

As an Altamont student, you spend so much time at school. There are good days and bad days, and how you react to that reveals “every version of yourself,” good, bad, and otherwise. 

To share your thoughts on this or anything else you've see in The Acta Diurna, to suggest story ideas, or to become a contributor, email TheActaDiurna@altamontschool.org.