If Taylor Swift is boy-crazy, is Dylan’s ‘Idiot Wind’ confessional?

Taylor Swift is a great writer, yet lately, the media seems determined to trivialize her lyrics as “boy-crazy” and “confessional.” Huh, I thought lots of artists, including, believe it or not,  males, wrote about love and break-ups.


I read all over the internet about how Taylor Swift humiliated herself in April’s Vanity Fair. I finally bought it and to my surprise, the actual piece is so great, I gave it to my nine year old daughter to read. (April’s Vanity Fair is great for kids. There’s a good piece on Malala Yousafzai and also one on Sheryl Sandberg, both which my daughter read.)

What I love about the VF article on Swift is that it makes clear what a driven, hard worker she is:

Watching her rehearse that day, it became clear that Swift works incredibly hard. While her band– which she commands in a friendly, laid back way– was taking a break, she continued practicing, playing songs on her guitar and piano, and going over sound issues with her soundman. “I’m the type of person, I have to study to get an A on the test,” she would tell me later. “I have to work really hard to get that record deal– I have to spend years at it to get good. I have to practice to be good at guitar. I have to write 100 songs before I write one good one.

I would’ve bribed Swift to convey that exact message to my perfectionist, easily frustrated daughter. But, lucky me, no bribery needed and my ethics remain intact.

In another part I love, Swift says:

For a female to write about her feelings and then be portrayed as some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend …that’s taking it and turning it and twisting it into something that is frankly a little sexist.


This from the woman who says she’s not a feminist. But as I wrote about it then, she is 23 year old. Look at her actions, not what she calls herself. I am so glad she said this. It is SO sexist. For God’s sake, Eminem writes incessantly about break-ups, not to mention classic stars like the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Would anyone ever call Dylan, the great poet, “confessional?” Or any male artist girl-crazy? Is that even a term?

Check out the lyrics of “Idiot Wind” rumored to be about Dylan’s wife Sara. Does this song remind you of anyone younger and blonder?

Someone’s got it in for me, they’re planting stories in the press
Whoever it is I wish they’d cut it out quick but when they will I can only guess
They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy
She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me
I can’t help it if I’m lucky.

People see me all the time and they just can’t remember how to act
Their minds are filled with big ideas, images and distorted facts
Even you yesterday you had to ask me where it was at
I couldn’t believe after all these years you didn’t know even me better than that
Sweet lady.

Idiot wind blowing every time your move your mouth
Blowing down the backroads heading south
Idiot wind blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot babe
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe

I ran into the fortune-teller who said beware of lightning that might strike
I haven’t known peace and quit for so long I can’t remember what it’s like
There’s a lone soldier on the cross smoke pouring out of a boxcar door
You didn’t know it you didn’t think it could be done in the final end he won the wars
After losing every battle.

I woke up on the roadside daydreaming about the way things sometimes are
Visions of your chestnut mare shoot through my head and are making me see stars
You hurt the ones that I love best and cover up the truth with lies
One day you’ll be in the ditch, flies buzzing around your eyes
Blood on your saddle.

Idiot wind blowing through the flowers on your tomb
Blowing through the curtains in your room
Idiot wind blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot babe
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

It was gravity which pulled us down and destiny which broke us apart
You tamed the lion in my cage but it just wasn’t enough to change my heart
Now everything’s a little upside down, as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped
What’s good is bad what’s bad is good you’ll find out when you reach the top
You’re on the bottom.I noticed at the ceremony, your corrupt ways had finally made you blind
I can’t remember your face anymore, your mouth has changed your eyes don’t look
Into mine
The priest wore black on the seventh day and sat stone faced while the
Building burned
I waited for you on the running boards, near the cypress trees while the
Springtime turned
Slowly into autumn.

Idiot wind blowing like a circle around my skull
From the Grand Coulee Dam to Capitol
Idiot wind blowing every time you move you teeth
You’re an idiot babe.
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

I can’t feel you anymore, I can’t even touch the books you’ve read
Every time I crawl past your door, I been wishing I was somebody else instead
Down the highway down the tracks down the road to ecstasy
I followed you beneath the stars hounded by your memory
And all you raging glory.

I been double-crossed now for the very last time and now I’m finally free
I kissed goodbye the howling beast on the borderline which separated you from me
You’ll never know the hurt I suffered not the pain I raise above
And I’ll never know the same about you your holiness or your kind of love
And it makes me feel so sorry.

Idiot wind blowing through the buttons of our coats
Blowing through the letters that we wrote
Idiot wind blowing through the dust upon our shelves
We’re idiots babe
It’s a wonder we can even feed ourselves.

11 thoughts on “If Taylor Swift is boy-crazy, is Dylan’s ‘Idiot Wind’ confessional?

  1. this is perfect. when dylan does it he is praised to the highest degree because as a male it is different, and even praiseworthy to confess his feelings so openly, but when taylor does it she’s portrayed as some typical psychotic whining girl. and addressing the comments above me, taylor is an extremely talented songwriter, if you look past the poppy singles her record label probably makes her release. Listen to “All Too Well”, “Treacherous”, “Dear John” and ‘Cold As You’ and then try to tell me she isn’t talented. she’s one of the best songwriters in pop music today, if not the best.

  2. Well i think the main problem with taylor swift’s music is that it is ONLY about boys and Break-ups and that kind of thing, she Is a talented musician, she has a great voice, but she just goes over the same thing again and again, i personally dislike all artists like that, male or female, it seems trite and soulless, “i know little about life, i dont do or think anything interesting, but i have to write a song, so ill make another unoriginal song about love”, i think swift would be great if she started writing about something else, a little variety wont kill her

    • Hi Pepe,

      I’ve listed several songs about other subjects, but I agree, I like to hear a variety of topics.


  3. The big issue I have with T Swift is that she seems to be way into slut shaming and playing up the “virginity as a girl’s most important and precious asset.” Her words as well as her actions seem to belie some messed up anti-woman attitudes beneath the surface.

    I will admit that I’m not familiar with her entire oeuvre (just what plays on the adult contemporary station I have to listen to at work), but in the case of, say, Bob Dylan, he wrote plenty of songs that WEREN’T about women and break-ups. The only chart topping T Swift song has that isn’t on the topic is (maybe) “Bully”? Which I never seem to hear anyway? Likewise Eminem doesn’t seem to focus exclusively on (failed) relationships. Unless there’s something going on in “The Real Slim Shady” or “Not Afraid” that I’ve missed.

    It IS a double-standard that men’s writing about relationships is okay while women’s is somehow not, totally, but I am still a bit disappointed in the fact that ALL of T Swift’s major singles are focused on men who (don’t) love her. I’m also a bit disappointed that she seems totally okay with making that her ~thing~ while not seeming to acknowledge how ultimately shallow and unchallenging that is, in terms of writing material. It’s a nice emotional outlet for girls/women who need it—I’m sure I’d be drowning my sorrows in T Swift’s dulcet tones if I had been born in a later era—but nothing she writes feels all that empowering if you’re NOT coming out of a crappy breakup.

    • I just want someone to explain why we’re supposed to love Adele but hate Taylor Swift. The same goes for most female recording artists whose songs are mainly about romantic relationships. I don’t get a lot of anti-woman sentiment from her songs.

    • Hi Kokoba,

      Off the top of my head: Lucky One, Safe and Sound, Eyes Open, Mean, Best Day, the song fron Ramona and Beezus, Don’t Grow up


    • Well, i think is fine when an artist writes about relationship, we all have them, but artists who ONLY write about relationships are trite, besides, taylor music is good, and her voice is awesome, but her writing is nothing otherworldy, and is not ok when men only sing dull songs about relationships (thats why i severely dislike justin bieber, one direction and their kind)

        • His haircut is an offense against style and good taste, and his “SWAG”, his freakin “swag”, as if teenagers need any more stupid fads that make them dress and act like a*holes

  4. Taylor Swift is an interesting figure because of the discussions surrounding her and her music. I happen to like a lot of her music. It isn’t brilliant (not that most pop music is) but she has skills and it’s pleasant and catchy.

    But yes, it has always bothered me that Taylor Swift is criticized for writing exclusively about relationships. The majority of music is about romantic relationships.

    But even worse is the conversations lately about who she has been dating. If you want sexism, go to a comment section and look at what they’re saying about her. “Slut” is one of the milder descriptions.

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