Taylor Swift: "Oh My God, I'm on the Cover of Rolling Stone"

February 20, 2009 1:58 PM ET

Taylor Swift should probably be jaded by now. She was the biggest selling artist of 2008, she's taken her songs to stages around the world, and despite her young age, she's been pursuing music as a profession for eight years already.

But there are still plenty of steps on this unique journey that get Taylor excited, like a spot on the cover of Rolling Stone.

Taylor's cover hits newsstands across the U.S. today, but the singer is across the pond right now in the U.K. preparing for the release of her album there on March 9th. So we shipped her a copy of her cover along with a Flip cam, and she was kind enough to let it roll as she checked it out for the first time. Her reaction? Everything you'd expect from a 19-year-old: giddiness, awe and pure excitement.

The story underneath that cover comes courtesy of contributor Vanessa Grigoriadis, who found Taylor to be essentially the young woman you see in these videos — a composed and driven musician who, at her core, is still a wide-eyed teen. "She really is that girl in the tiny little bedroom at home writing songs about the things she hopes and dreams and feels," Grigoriadis told us in our story-behind-the-story.

For more undiluted Taylor, we pulled together a Q&A from Vanessa's interview with the country crossover star, plus put together a collection of private snapshots from her family album and a gallery charting her swift rise to superstardom.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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