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Fall Music Preview: Taylor Swift's 'Speak Now'

Swift's new album was entirely self-penned

Taylor Swift performs on stage at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 12th, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Mazur/WireImage
September 30, 2010

As far as inspiration goes, I've been dealt a lucky hand," says Swift. "I'm excited for people to delve into the album and unravel the secrets." For the first time, Swift penned every cut on the album without co-writers. "I wrote a lot for this one," she says. "I just keep trying to out-do myself."

The first single, "Mine," is about "what it would be like if I let my guard down and saw a relationship through," says the 20-year-old. "The Story of Us" — a super-catchy pop nugget lifted by a hot guitar solo — was inspired by running into an ex at an awards show. "We were both in 'I'm ignoring you, I don't care' mode," she recalls. Swift won't say if the track is about ex Joe Jonas and only laughs when asked if the dramatic power ballad "Back to December" is about former boyfriend Taylor Lautner.

"After I wrote it, I realized that I've never apologized to someone in a song," she says. "This album is about my confessions."

This is a story from the September 30, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone.

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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