Songwriter Spotlight: Taylor Swift

Like Dolly Parton before her, Taylor Swift's songwriting skills often get lost in all the sparkle. Strip away the stage productions and elaborate costume changes, the gossip columns and the perfume brand, and in the end Taylor is just a "girl who writes songs in her bedroom." That is her appeal. She's Everygirl. Fans feel she can understand their world, and give a glimpse into one they can only dream about. She's often pigeonholed as just writing scornful songs about ex-boyfriends, but Swift has connected with fans because her lyrics capture what it's like to be young and scared ("Fifteen"), to stand up for yourself ("Mean"), to hang with your girlfriends ("22") and yes, to be dumped ("Picture to Burn" ...Expand ยป

Like Dolly Parton before her, Taylor Swift's songwriting skills often get lost in all the sparkle. Strip away the stage productions and elaborate costume changes, the gossip columns and the perfume brand, and in the end Taylor is just a "girl who writes songs in her bedroom." That is her appeal. She's Everygirl. Fans feel she can understand their world, and give a glimpse into one they can only dream about. She's often pigeonholed as just writing scornful songs about ex-boyfriends, but Swift has connected with fans because her lyrics capture what it's like to be young and scared ("Fifteen"), to stand up for yourself ("Mean"), to hang with your girlfriends ("22") and yes, to be dumped ("Picture to Burn" and too many others to mention).

Swift is also responsible for a huge shift in the way young women approach music. Rather than just being passive listeners, the number of girls learning to play acoustic guitar has exploded since she released her debut album (made up of songs she wrote her freshman year in high school). Recently named the NSAI's Songwriter/Artist of the Year, Taylor is the only person to ever claim the title for six straight years, besting the record held by Vince Gill and Alan Jackson. Stephen Stills even came to her defense against critics who make fun of her for writing songs about being scorned: "I'm sorry, that's what you do as a songwriter ... Wear your heart on your sleeve, then just write about it. F-ck 'em." Or as Taylor would say, "People throw rocks at things that shine."

This playlist traces her evolution from those first teenage laments to her recent collaborations with Colbie Caillat, The Civil Wars, Ed Sheeran, pop songwriter/producers Shellback and Max Martin, and Jack Antonoff (from fun.).

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