The 10 Year Anniversary of Taylor Swift, the album

(Source: Big Machine Records)
(Source: Big Machine Records)

Sometimes I’m out of words, Taylor Nation.

Taylor Swift released her self-titled debut album back in October 24, 2006. Her name was starting to sound familiar in country music channels. Back then I was not yet a fan. I had arrived in Canada a year before. A friend of mine who was a Rascal Flatts fan had turned me onto country music. It wouldn’t be until the year of Fearless of 2009 that I would start watching her video blogs and become a fan. The blog was born on November 10, 2009.

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy that knows he’s late writing this, we started as a new fan. We missed the years of Taylor Swift making a name for herself in local town fairs. She was a rarity, a teenager that would spend her free time writing songs and playing small venues. A teenage country singer? Who would’ve bet on that? Much has been written about Taylor going for the untapped country music teenage market. What record label would take that risk back in 2005? Enter Scott Borchetta, and the birth of Big Machine Records (now a label group) and the Spark – wait, I can’t call her that yet – and Taylor had a record deal. Let’s be honest, even back then Scott was a force to be reckoned with but Big Machine was in its infancy. Taylor was taking a huge risk too.

By the way, it was Taylor who brought Nathan Chapman, the producer who had made her demo CD, to Big Machine Records.

Taylor’s first studio album was going to be the make-or-break for both Taylor Swift and Big Machine in late 2006. “Tim McGraw” was already a single since June of the same year. Her name was starting to sound. So many things were riding on this album. It wasn’t an overnight chart-topper but it was received positively, debuting on the Billboard 200 on the nineteenth spot with 40,000 copies sold. The sales would rise to a peak number of 187,000 in January 2008. The album peaked at number 5 on January 19, 2008. Here in Canada, Taylor Swift reached the 14th spot on the Canadian Albums Chart and number one on the Canadian Country Albums Chart.

The album was certified five times platinum by the RIAA on February 2014. In Billboard’s Greatest Albums of All Time it comes in at number 18. Fearless comes in at number 4.

That’s all well for numbers and figures, but what do you remember and love about T’s first foray studio album? I remember seeing the video for “Picture to Burn”. I also remember first loving the song “I’m Only Me When I’m With You”, which was a track only available in the deluxe edition. I remember I didn’t discover “Tim McGraw”, meaning really, really listening to it, until later and realizing how amazing that song is. I remember realizing that “Our Song” is kind of a favourite for Taylor Swift. If she’s doing an acoustic segment for her classic songs and nobody has any suggestions, she’ll play it first.

Well… Those acoustic moments are now scarce. When they do, there’s more chance we’ll hear something newer or more popular. Taylor Swift was after all, her first album and a country album at that. It was the times in which she had a twang in her voice, she was never caught anywhere without her boots and her hair was always in curls. She was also a fan of the sundress, which is the reason you still see the littlest fans in sundress and boots. Nowadays, her boots have heels and she’s the one wearing short skirts.

Perhaps that’s one thing Taylor didn’t have back then and the one skill she’s had to develop. She’s learned to evolve and grow and experiment. That is a part of anybody’s life but in the world of music, specially of pop music, the Sparkly Dressed can’t keep the same look twice. She’s also moved on to pop music, something that has taken her audience some time to accept. For that reason, we always have this album to remind us of the country times. The way we’ve learned to see it, Taylor Swift has become her own genre and her own style. And yes, she’s always trying to rehearse and prepare for all her performances. It comes with the territory, but improvisation is a luxury that she doesn’t take on her big concerts.

So if you’re not doing anything special for this 10th anniversary, I invite you to pop the old album in the record play- I mean, pop the CD in the – I mean, just bring up the album in your iTunes playlist and listen to some old Taylor for a while. Better times? Too raw? I think there’s one or two songs that can still make you sing along in there.

Coming up next, on next year’s calendar:

(Sources: Big Machine RecordsWikipedia, CMT News)