10 Days of Taylor: An 18-year-old Taylor Swift talks about school, songwriting and where she sees herself at 22
(Welcome to 10 Days of Taylor, Soundcheck's epic countdown to the epic finale of the most epic pop tour of all time: Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour, stopping Halloween Night at Raymond James Stadium. For all of our Taylor Swift coverage, click here.)
In early 2008, Taylor Swift was an 18-year-old country phenomenon still months away from releasing Fearless, the album that spawned hits Love Story and White Horse, won the Grammy for Album of the Year, and made her a household name.
It was at then that she came to the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center on Jan. 26, the same day as Gasparilla took over Tampa.
Before that show, tbt* staff writer Susan Thurston spoke to Swift by phone. Seven years later, it’s still remarkable how polished, poised and goofy Swift sounded. In fact, she sounded a lot like the Taylor of today. The interview, originally published Jan. 25, 2008, follows below.
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She won over country music fans in November when she told the audience at the Country Music Association awards that winning the Horizon Award was the highlight of her senior year.
Now she’s up for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist and leads the country music charts.
Not bad for an 18-year-old who wrote her megahit Our Song for a high school talent show.
After a much deserved Christmas break, Taylor Swift hit the road earlier this month. On Saturday, she brings her girlish twang to the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Tbt* spoke with her this week about everything from making music in a bathroom to coping with the frizzies.
You’re coming to Tampa on Gasparilla, Tampa’s version of Mardi Gras with beads and girls being naughty. Have you heard about it?
One of my dad’s friends told him, “Are you ready for this?’’ He said it’s crazy. So I’m excited.
Are you planning to partake in the festivities?
Probably not. I’ll probably sit on my bus and be boring, as usual. But I’ll probably observe.
You’re up for a Grammy next month. Have you written an acceptance speech?
(Laughs) No, because I’m not going into this one expecting anything. I’m very glad to be nominated but I’m very realistic about the chances of winning it. To be honest with you, I had the best night of my life at the CMA awards. I don’t know if anything can top it.
Have you graduated from high school?
I haven’t. I’m homeschooled, and I’ll be graduating in June. I don’t go to high school anymore; there’s no time.
Any college plans?
No, I would love to take a class every once in a while, but I really cannot walk away from this for four years. Four years is a long time. People will fill your spot.
You’ve got great hair. It’s not frizzy. How to do you get it to look like that?
It’s been really curly and fro’d out since I was little. I used to fight it. I used to try to straighten it, which turned out horrific. But then I just decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to wear my hair the way that it is. When I’m going on TV, of course, you have the glam squad. They make it look a lot better.
It’s pretty amazing, and unusual, that you write your own songs. When do you have the time?
Writing a song ... you don’t feel like you’re really doing it. You feel like the song is coming to you, sometimes, and you can’t really choose when that happens. I used to be at school and my teachers and classmates would all think I was weird because I would have to get up and go to the bathroom and record a melody into my phone so I could remember it.
It seems like you can do a lot of impressions. Any favorites?
Me and friend, Abigail, always talk with Minnesota accents and everyone thinks we’re weird. When I was in ninth grade, (we) didn’t talk in any other voice except Napoleon Dynamite the entire year. That’s when people in our school decided we were too strange to hang out with. So I’ve only had one friend my entire high school.
You obviously liked the movie a lot.
Oh, we loved the movie. Oh my gosh, it was like our dictionary.
Where do you see yourself in the next five to 10 years?
Well, in five years, I will be 22 going on 23. I see myself living in a little house, an old house that’s really pretty and decorated really cute. But I won’t see it a lot because I want to stay on the road and I want to be headlining. That’s my dream, to be on a headlining tour, because that means you’ve got longevity and you’ve got thousands of people that are willing to come out and see you every night.
-- Susan Thurston