Taylor Swift’s massive Grammy night included four victories, two acceptance speeches and one big performance of “Today Was a Fairytale,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” (with Stevie Nicks) and “You Belong With Me.” The special guest on the last track was singer-songwriter Butch Walker, who nabbed the gig the most 21st century way possible: via Twitter.
“I had done this version of ‘You Belong With Me’ that had banjo on it and was just fun,” he told Rolling Stone at the Grammys. “I posted it online one night… and when I woke up the next morning, people were freaking out because Taylor twittered about and she was freaking out. She loved it apparently, and she twittered me again and said, ‘Can I call you?’ ”
Swift dialed up Walker at the un-rock-star-like hour of 8 a.m., proclaimed her love for the cover, and asked if he’d join her onstage at the Grammys. Walker says he replied, ” ‘Yeah, twist my arm, as long as I can pay banjolin’ — which is a combination of mandolin and banjo, but not quite either, but it’s on the song that i did and it’s pretty much the staple of the sound.”
Two months later, the two musicians brought their collaboration to life at the Staples Center. “The irony is that the first time I’m ever playing the Grammys or even going, and I’m playing the banjolin for Taylor Swift,” Walker laughs. “It’s fun and challenging. She’s such a sweetheart and a very real person.”
Reporting by Shirley Halperin