Taylor Swift’s fans were wondering when she’d ever finish her brand new
record, Red. Meanwhile, Swift realized the precise moment when the record was finally ready. It arrives in stores Monday
“I knew that the album was done when I literally wrote and wrote and wrote for two years and I wrote until
I could not write anymore. I think that is when I knew,” she tells CMT.com. “I couldn’t physically, mentally, emotionally
push myself to write one more song. At that point, I had 30 or 40 songs compiled for the record and it just was about paring
it down to 16. It was not easy, but it is a good problem to have.”
During a recent swing through CMT, she cheerfully
chatted about her latest co-writing sessions, her flashes of songwriting inspiration and her approach to turning music into
CMT.com: For this record, did you write with people you had never met before?
I did. Writing with people I had never met before, walking into a studio to work with them, is something I am kind of used
to, based on my experience writing in Nashville and co-writing with different people. Your publisher will set up meetings
for you, and you won’t know the person. You will never have met the person before. You walk in and you tell them everything
that is going on in your life. I think you just have to have a certain trust level and comfort level, and you just have to
be able to walk in and bare your soul to a stranger. It can be really, really fun to have someone with fresh ears on the situation
and hear what they come up with.
When you are meeting a songwriter, do you like to listen to what they have written
in the past and already know where they are coming from?
I make co-writing sessions based on being a fan of what
that writer has done before. When I was writing songs for this album, I didn’t have a lot of time to go in to 20 different
writing sessions. I wanted to make sure that the people I was writing with were people I desperately wanted to write
with. So I did that, and it was such a blast because I wanted the styles of those co-writers to rub off on my music, and it
How often do you wake up with the idea for the perfect song in your head?
When I get an idea
for a song, it could be in the middle of the night. It could be in the middle of the day. It could be in the middle of riding
in the car with my friend, in which case I record it into my phone. My friends are so used to that now. If you cannot get
it out of your head and it sticks with you, then that is how you know you need to finish it. I really don’t like to finish
songs I am not into. I get bored. You know, “If this song is not going to make the album, why am I finishing it? This is a
waste of time.”
When you do finish a song that you’ve written, who gets to hear it?
When I write a song
and I am in love with it, I’ll play it for my mom, my dad, my record label president Scott [Borchetta]. I’ll play it for some
of my closest friends that I know I can trust. For me, their reactions really help determine where that song is going to end
up because they are very honest with me. If they are like (lightly) “Oh, that’s great,” they don’t like it! (laughs)
you into power ballads? Do you have any power ballads on your own playlists?
Sure. Absolutely, I have a lot of
rap. I have a lot of acoustic. I have a lot of folk-influenced [songs]. I have a lot of things that people have not heard
yet because I am digging around trying to find the thing that has a cool melody that my friends will hear and go, “Oh, that’s
great, what’s that!?” I really like turning my friends on to new music.
So are there any words or phrases we will
never hear in one of your songs?
I don’t really swear in my songs. I guess there are certain things I shy away
from. I try to shy away from things that sound like they have been said too many times, or I will put a twist on them so they
sound a little bit new. I think it’s all about finding a new way to say something that can speak to people. It’s a difficult
thing to do, for sure.
Yeah, and to make it still sound conversational.
I think that conversational
writing is something I have always gravitated towards. That way, it’s very natural. It’s like you’re being told a story by
one of your friends. That’s what I love when I try and find new songs. I always go for lyrics that sound conversational.
you a fan of vinyl records? Do you have a vinyl collection?
I love vinyl. I think it turns music into an
event. You get out your vinyl record, you put it on your record player and it turns it into something you are doing that evening.
I really love it. I loved putting my last album out on vinyl. It was really exciting.
Sometimes I’ll interview
songwriters who talk about how certain guitars might have a song in them, waiting to come out. Do you identify with that?
at all. I have never identified songwriting with a certain room or a specific pair of shoes or a guitar. I feel like ideas
are randomly floating around up in the sky and, every once in a while, one kind of lands right next to your head. And you
have the opportunity to reach up and grab it at the right time. Sometimes you’ll be asleep and you have an idea, and you think,
“I can remember that tomorrow.” And you wake up the next morning and it’s just gone. It’s the most frustrating feeling because
you swear to yourself, “That was it, that was the best song that I have ever written — and now it’s gone!”