Written by Lyndsey McKenna at NPR.org
AsTaylor Swiftsettled in for her Tiny Desk, she looked out at the 300-plus NPR employees and guests. "Wow! This is a lot of people in a tiny office!" she said. "I love it!" Then, after introducing herself, she explained her objective: "I just decided to take this as an opportunity to show you guys how the songs sounded when I first wrote them."
It should come as no surprise that someone who commands stadium stages could hold court in NPR Music's corner of our Washington, D.C., office — specifically, behind Bob Boilen's desk — but Swift was truly at home in stripped-down, solo-session mode. ("It's just me. There's no dancers, unfortunately," she quipped.)
Opening with an acoustic rendition of "The Man," from her 2019 album,Lover,Swift delivered a critique of gender double standards with a sense of humor (and a perfectly deployed hair toss), Leonardo DiCaprio name check and all. Turning to the piano with a smile forLover's title track, she explained the guitar-string scars of the song's bridge. Picking up the guitar again for "Death by a Thousand Cuts," Swift confronted a question that she says has haunted her career: What will you ever do if you get happy? Across the song's run-on thoughts and relentless searching, Swift offered an answer: She'll continue to excel at crafting superb story-songs.