(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Five years ago today, I was listening to a lot of Tim McGraw. So it was impossible to ignore this new girl, Taylor Swift, and her song about him. Her self-titled debut album with “Tim McGraw,” the song, on it was released exactly five years ago. And a few months after that release, I covered one of her shows for the Chicago Tribune. She was on tour with George Strait and Ronnie Milsap, opening the show with a little four-song set. I said things in my review like, “She was barely on stage for a half hour, but she accomplished so much” and “She let everyone know just how young she was (‘Just a year ago, I was sitting in high school’).” I raved about her outfit: a bohemian handkerchief-hem dress, cowboy boots and Stevie Nicks hair. And I stood in line for her autograph after the show, amazed at the time she spent with each fan. Her mom Andrea was watching from the sidelines as Swift helped people figure out how to use their cameras and decide what to get autographed. All I had with me was my reporter’s notebook, which she signed: “Thanks for coming. You’re pretty. Love, Taylor.” She’s come so far since that night, and yet it seems like she hasn’t really changed. The numbers have. The money has. And maybe the love life has. But she has not. Since that album release in 2006, Taylor Swift has sold more than 5.5 million copies. And altogether, Swift has sold more than 20 million albums. But the fame still hasn’t gone to her head, and I don’t think it ever will.