arts & entertainment CDs
Taylor Swift comes of age
with Speak Now
By J. Rentilly
THOUGH SHE’S ONLY 20, Taylor Swift has
been a music-industry phenom for nearly
half her life. A Pennsylvania girl with cowboy
boots, Nashville roots and an affinity for
country music, especially that produced by
her idols Shania Twain and Dolly Parton,
Swift became a country music sensation at
the same age most girls are reading Judy
Swift earned her country street cred the
honest way: through relentless touring, a
crystalline voice and dynamic, endearing live
performances. It wasn’t long before she
crossed over to mainstream music lovers, on
the wings of “Teardrops on My Guitar,” a
richly melodic, intimately confessional tune.
Swift’s trio of albums, veritable diaries
of the artist as a young woman, have sold
tens of millions of copies, and demonstrated
that lovely ladies from Nashville aren’t just
for country music fans. (Indeed, Swift is big
With Speak Now, her new album, Swift is
not a little girl anymore; this set of songs is
about the importance of conviction, strength
and resolve. Swift has come of age with Speak
Now, and done so with the poise and dignity
she’s always promised.
The Costco Connection: Tell us
about the evolution of Taylor Swift.
Taylor Swift: I’ve always approached
my music career with this basic formula: If I
That’s applied for all three
of my albums. The first
album was about my life
from the ages of 12 to 16.
Speak Now is available at all
The second one was my life from 16 to 18.
And the new one, Speak Now, is about my life
from 18 to 20.
CC: Speak Now is a command. It’s a call
to action. I’m wondering what that means to
TS: It talks about that moment that exists
in some weddings where the minister says,
basically, if you have a problem with these two
people being together speak now or forever
hold your peace. I feel that moment in a wedding is sort of a metaphor for a lot of times in
our lives, where the window of opportunity is
rapidly closing for us to either speak up or
stay quiet. It’s always been my natural inclination to stay quiet or hesitate in those moments,
instead of sharing what’s really on my mind,
and then I go back to my room and write
songs about it. Songs have always been my
way of speaking out. I’m trying to do things a
little differently these days.
CC: How has making an album changed
for you these past few years?
TS: Writing songs has always come to me
CC: Where does the cre-
in the most involuntary ways, at the most
inopportune times. I’ll be in the middle of a
very intense conversation with a friend or in
the middle of a very public meet-and-greet
for the record label and I’ll get this idea I need
to record for a song before I forget it. It’s really
funny going through your life and it’s a com-
pletely regular day and everything’s normal
and then you get struck with this
powerful idea that you have to
do something about and it
completely changes your day.
And if the song’s really good, it
could even change your life.
ative compulsion come from?
TS: I think that because I
started writing songs during my
formative years, when I was 12
years old, writing songs during a
time of life where I felt that song-
writing was really all that I had, there’s an emotional connection and reward there for me:
Songwriting makes me feel good, satisfied,
understood, heard. I can cut through [break-ups, rejection, heartache and loneliness]
because I can always write a song about it.
CC: As a result, we get these great albums
every couple of years. What would you like
people to take from Speak Now?
TS: I hope I’ve written songs that people
can connect with, no matter what they’re feeling, no matter what they’re going through. I
also hope the album might motivate people to
speak up, to speak their mind when the
moment is right there in front of them.
CC: If these albums are two-year journals, would you care to lay odds on what the
next album will be about?
TS: When it comes to love, I know nothing. When it comes to the future, I have no
idea what to expect. When it comes to what
music I’ll make, it’s always going to surprise
me. I’m just as curious as you are. C
NOVEMBER 2010 ;e Costco Connection 53
J. Rentilly is a Los Angeles–based journalist.