Taylor Swift Returns to Where Her Nashville Career Began


Surprise Bluebird Cafe Performance Filmed for the Venue’s Documentary

Patrons at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe on Saturday night (March 31) not only got what they paid for, which was an evening of songs and stories with the Grammy-winning hitmaker Craig Wiseman.

They also got a surprise performance by Taylor Swift.

“I wanted to say a big thank you to the Bluebird Cafe,” Swift said. “I think any songwriter in town would echo my sentiments and say that this is kind of the only place where this exists — this particular place where you get to come and hear the writer’s take on the songs they’ve put out into the world.”

The $20 concert marked a return to where Swift’s career began. In November 2004, Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Brochetta saw a 14-year-old Swift perform at the Bluebird for the first time. A year later, he signed her as one of the label’s flagship artists with Texas acts Jack Ingram and Sunny Sweeney. Her breakout hit “Tim McGraw” arrived in 2006, and more hits, albums, award wins and world tours followed.

According to the Tennessean, Wiseman was in on the surprise, which was filmed for a documentary about the Bluebird to celebrate its 35th anniversary. The two have known one another for more than a decade, and he can remember the day she pitched an idea for a song he didn’t get. They ended up writing another song, but Swift’s original idea went on to become her multi-platinum smash, “Love Story.”

Swift’s Bluebird performance included “Better Man,” the hit she wrote for Little Big Town and the story about how Wiseman found out Swift was a Fireball Whisky fan at his CMT Music Awards afterparty. When she arrived, he showed her around, pointing out the bar and offering wine, but apparently what she was really interested in was access to the Fireball Whisky shot room. They laughed at the memory of Wiseman passing her a couple of shots toward her through the crowd, not knowing if they made it to her or not. But in case they didn’t, he procured a few small bottles for them to enjoy together onstage. “For old-times sake,” he said.

“Should we play another song?” Swift asked the audience. “Did you want to hear music tonight or did you want to hear about CMT afterparties?”

Swift will return to Nashville this summer when she brings the Reputation tour to Nissan Stadium on Aug. 25.

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.