Stephen Malkmus’s Taylor Swift Cover Fills a “Blank Space”

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 02.20.15 in News

A heretofore unknown void in pop culture has now been occupied.

Before Taylor Swift went “official” in her pop ambitions with last year’s blockbuster 1989 album, she was showing a curious level of insecurity on 2012′s Red. She mocks an ex for loving “some indie record that’s much cooler than mine,” declares “a perfect night to dress up like hipsters” and collaborates with Snow Patrol‘s Gary Lightbody — who, long before Grammy nominations and arena tours, was a Lou Barlow worshipper signed to the same label as Belle and Sebastian.

Stephen Malkmus, on the other hand, used to lead a band that has been called the “indie-est” ever. And he’s a whole lot less of a stereotypical indie-rock snob than the ex in Swift’s song. Malkmus told Rolling Stone a year ago that his kids listen to Swift’s music, and around the same time he told Billboard that when he wrote the song “Lariat,” from last year’s Wig Out at Jagbags album with his band the Jicks, he “was trying to write something that Taylor Swift would write.”

Malkmus hasn’t been too keen on the idea another Pavement reunion — just ask bandmate and Silver Jews member Bob Nastanovich — but he has brought something else back together (never, ever), covering 1989 standout “Blank Space” in slacker-god style. The performance, which took place last month in Portland in a room filled with children, involves lyrics read from an iPhone, but the languidly unfurling guitar solo comes straight from the heart.

Is there a rip in the indie-cred continuum?

Or if Swift keeps a list of her music’s lovers, can she now add Malk’s name?