Taylor Swift Fought to Keep the Country Out

Why There’s No Fiddle on “Shake It Off”

The fiddle is one of the most undeniably country instruments in a song. So it makes sense that when Taylor Swift was making her pop album, she had to put her foot down. There would be zero fiddle.

In other words, we’re not in “Our Song” anymore.

In the upcoming issue of Billboard, which has named her its woman of the year, she talks openly about how hard she had to fight to keep any kind of country elements out of this new batch of music.

When Swift told her label boss Scott Borchetta there was nothing country this time around, he apparently went into a state of semi-panic and pleaded with her to stay true to her roots.

“Can you give me three country songs,” she says he asked. And, “Can we put a fiddle on ’Shake It Off’?”

“All my answers were a very firm ’no’ because it felt disingenuous to try to exploit two genres when your album falls in only one,” she recalls.

And it sounds like Borchetta wasn’t the only one voicing concerns.

The rest of Team Swift was a little uneasy about leaving country completely behind.

“I remember all the sit-downs in the conference rooms,” Swift says. “They said, ’Are you really sure you want to do this? Are you sure you want to call the album 1989? We think it’s a weird title. Are you sure you want to put an album cover out that has less than half of your face on it? Are you positive that you want to take a genre that you cemented yourself in and switch to one that you are a newcomer to?’”

She had the same answer to all of their concerns: one big fat “yes.”

“And answering all of those questions with ’Yes, I’m sure’ really frustrated me at the time,” Swift admits. “Like, ’Guys, don’t you understand, this is what I’m dying to do.'”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.
@alisonbonaguro