With sales already in the vicinity of 2 million copies, Taylor Swift’s Speak Now has fulfilled its promise as one of the best-selling albums of 2010, an especially remarkable accomplishment considering it was only released in late October.
Prior to the media attention she’s been receiving lately about her relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal, Swift talked to CMT Insider host Katie Cook about her new songs, how she plans to celebrate her 21st birthday on Dec. 13 and the “incredible adventure” her career is providing.
CMT: Obviously you’ve matured a lot in the last couple years. Do you feel like that’s reflected on Speak Now?
Swift: I hope so. I think, for me, musical evolution as well as growing up should be something that happens naturally. I’ve never felt the need to have some proclamation that I’m now an adult or anything like that. You know, I guess you’re technically an adult when you’re 18, but I was looking around going, “When’s it gonna happen?” I think that growing up has to happen at your own pace, and maturing happens through a series of realizations and lessons and life happening to you and you dealing with it.
A lot of your fans are still teenagers, some of them even preteens, so do you ever think, “I hope they can still relate to what I’m writing about”?
When I’m in a room by myself writing a song, which is the scenario that happened for each of the songs on this album because there weren’t any co-writers, it’s not about factoring in millions of people who could possibly hear that song some day, because that would be a very crowded room. But in my head and in that room, I try to kind of conjure up the idea of the person who I’m writing that song about. I’m writing that song to them. That’s how I’ve always written music. I used to worry that would be too personal, that by writing songs directly to someone who’s in or out of my life, other people wouldn’t be able to relate to it. But then I put the music out into the world and it somehow worked out that they were able to relate it to their lives, too.
As you said, you wrote all the songs on this album by yourself. Was that a conscious decision?
That was another natural progression, which is what I love about this album. A lot of it just sort of happened. There was a flow that just kind of happened. I would get inspired to write songs at the most inconvenient times, 3 in the morning or in the middle of a meet-and-greet or in the middle of a conversation with my friends, and I’d just drift off. And they’re like, “Oh, you’re working again, aren’t you?”
I want to ask about a couple of these songs, specifically “Speak Now,” the title track. I love this song. Is that a true story?
Well, it sort of is. No, I have never interrupted a wedding before, but if I did, that is how I would do it. … It’s based on that moment in a wedding where the preacher says, “If anyone thinks that these two shall not wed, speak now or forever hold your peace.” And I think that that moment in a wedding is a great metaphor for a lot of situations we find ourselves in, in life, when we wait until it’s almost too late to say what we actually feel.
What about “Back to December”? I like this one because instead of you singing about a guy being a jerk, you’re kind of admitting that you were a jerk.
I mean, to put it harshly.
I have never apologized to someone in a song because I’ve never needed to. I write songs because I need to say what it is I say in that song, or else I can’t go about my day. It’s almost like that emotion weighs you down so heavily that unless you write it, you can’t get past it. This was a song that this person deserved and an apology that needed to be made.
There’s been a lot of Internet buzz about you hanging out in Milan and Paris for fashion week. Girl, how was that?
It was amazing. It was wonderful. I love adventures. I love going to Milan and going to a Roberto Cavalli fashion show and going to a gala in Paris. Of course, we did so much album promotion with all of these interviews and international press and performances on TV shows and radio stations. World travel is something I really love. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and now I get to do it and sing music at the same time.
Everywhere you show up, people are analyzing every outfit you have on. Do you ever get used to that aspect of being a celebrity?
I don’t mind that. Some days you have days where you’re like, “Wow. … I’m really glad they don’t have paparazzi in Nashville,” because they’ll analyze if one of your socks is like an inch higher than the other, and they’ll be like, “What was the meaning behind that?” It’s like, “Is she trying to tell us something?” I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that at home because I can handle it when I’m traveling. I can get used to that, but home is wonderfully paparazzi-free, and I like it.
Let’s hope it stays that way. Any big plans for your 21st birthday?
Not yet, but I have a feeling that it is going to be Christmas-themed. I love Christmas, and I love winter, and I’m already obsessing over that, like the baking sprees and stuff. It’s getting really, really crazy. But I think that it’ll definitely be Christmas-inspired. Lots of garlands and strings of lights at my house, probably.