First up is Taylor Swift's debut and self-titled album. According to the end all pantheon of information, Wikipedia, Taylor wrote most of these songs during her freshman year of high school. Many are about relationships despite the fact that she had yet to be in one while writing some of the songs. The album was released October 24, 2006 when Taylor was sixteen.
1. Tim McGraw
The first album track and single is a country standard, meaning a song about a woman reminiscing about a summer romance. There are many examples:
- "Maybe It Was Memphis" - Pam Tillis
- "Strawberry Wine" - Deana Carter
- "Georgia Rain" - Trisha Yearwood
- "Innocence" - Sarah Buxton
2. Picture to Burn
An upbeat, angry (and slightly irrational) song about a break up. Taylor has moved past phase 1 of crying into her pillow and into phase 2 which, apparently, includes burning shit and hating a truck. It also includes the realistic line of "nothing's stopping me from going out with all your best friends". Of course, it's an empty threat made by a hormonal teenage girl. This song personifies how obsessive girls are about their relationships and how quick they are to claim what a worthless jerk their ex is.
3. Teardrops on My Guitar
Ah, the friend zone. Taylor often finds herself in it, but this is by far the best song about it...ever. She sings of the unwavering secret pain of hearing about the object of your affection's love life when it will never include you. This one was inspired by a true event when this guy in one of Taylor's classes would talk to her everyday about this other girl. I, myself, have been there, so I'm a big fan of this one. "He's the time taking up/but there's never enough" is my favorite lyric. Only someone who's been there could write that.
4. A Place In This World
"I don't know what I want/so don't ask me cause I'm still trying to figure this out" opens "A Place In This World". And those lyrics pretty much exemplify this song about being aware of how clueless teenagers actually are. Also that you don't have to have it all figured out right away. Pretty basic, but still likable.
5. Cold As You
A song about a girl in a relationship with a cold and emotionally unavailable dude. Taylor often is the victim in her songs and this one is pretty much a pity party. However, this situation isn't usually discussed in song...at least not to my knowledge. "And you come away with a great little story of a mess of a dreamer with the nerve to adore you."
6. The Outside
This is an upbeat teenage angst song. Apparently, Taylor wrote this one when she was 12 and feeling alienated from her friends. She desperately wants acceptance and to a lesser extent, popularity. At first, I thought this was an unrequited love song, but it definitely makes more sense now that I know the original context.
7. Tied Together With a Smile
Finally, thanks to Wikipedia, I discovered that this song is about Taylor's bulimic friend. (Why did I assume everything was romantically tinged?) Again, being about a female makes so much more sense. Overall the song is about insecurity and how girls deal with it, either by dieting or "giving away love like it's extra change."
8. Stay Beautiful
This one is about a dude that doesn't know attractive and talented he is, at least in the eyes of Taylor. This is more of a "secret love" song vs. an "unrequited love" song. She ponders confessing, but I guess just isn't ready. She seems pretty okay with that though.
9. Should've Said No
Taylor gets cheated on and even though the guy begs for forgiveness, she stands her ground. A standard country song about cheating, if you ask me. This one was released as a single probably because country music doesn't have enough grrrl power songs about kicking his cheatin' ass to the curb.
10. Mary's Song (Oh My, My, My)
Taylor wrote this song about one of her neighbors who apparently had a childhood romance that grew into a long lasting marriage. It's very sweet and one of my favorites. The fact that is was written about an older woman makes it even more believable since very few marry their high school sweetheart, let alone their childhood one. But since I'm from a small town in the country, I know it's not impossible. At eleven, this song would have been my dream come true.
11. Our Song
Even though "Tim McGraw" and "Teardrops on My Guitar" charted reasonably well on the country charts, "Our Song" was Taylor's first number one. The song is light hearted and seems like the happier days of "Tim McGraw". I'm still not sure why this one was such a big hit. It's catchy enough but I don't get its intense fame.
12. I'm Only Me When I'm With You
This could be a song about friendship or romance, I can't really tell. So I assume that it's about that murky possible transition period. The title says it all; Taylor can't be herself around anyone else but the subject of this song. Fun and upbeat.
Friend zone song #2. This time, however, the guy she pines for is pining for an unattainable chick with no idea of his existence. Taylor offers that the two of them hook up so they can both stop being invisible. The songs details the circle of hell where "he likes her, but she likes him, and he likes somebody else, you just can win".
14. A Perfectly Good Heart
Taylor the victim deals with an "unfair" break up that she should have seen coming. It's always someone else's fault in high school...and for some people, always. This is a pretty mediocre song and I see why it wasn't included until the Deluxe Edition. Although, I know there are better songs that could have been included. ("I'd Lie", cough, cough).
15. Teardrops on My Guitar (Pop Version)
Apparently, I have the international Deluxe Edition which includes a poppier version of this song. It's the same vocal track, only with a faster drum beats and less twang. Ignore it.
So, that's Taylor Swift's first album. A lot of the songs are similar in theme and sound. There are definitely some catchy, winning tracks and other fair ones. None of them outright suck, that's for sure, but I can safely say that Taylor Swift is not as good as Fearless.
Common elements found in Taylor Swift's songs (For fun!)
- Truck/Riding Shotgun/The Passenger Seat/Driving in general - 5
- Blue Jeans - 2
- Fake Smile - 2
- That Girl/Her/The Other Woman in general - 3
- Eyes - 5
- A marriage proposal - 1