How long does it take you to write a song?

Taylor: Most of the time, songs that I write end up being finished in 30 minutes or less. "Love Story" I wrote on my bedroom floor in about 20 minutes. When I get on a roll with something, it's really hard for me to put it down unfinished.

What's the story behind "Love Story"?

Taylor: "Love Story" is actually about a guy that I almost dated. But when I introduced him to my family and my friends, they all said they didn't like him. All of them! For the first time, I could relate to that Romeo-and-Juliet situation where the only people who wanted them to be together were them. That's the most romantic song I've written, and it's not even about a person I really dated.

How do you manage to appear so genuinely happy when, according to your songs, you've suffered so much heartbreak?

Taylor: I have ways of channeling the heartbreak. Also, it's been a really awesome year. I get so excited when a song I wrote that's very personal to me goes No. 1 and I look down and see people singing the words back to me. That makes me so much happier than anything could ever bring me down.

Who's your biggest musical influence?

Taylor: Shania Twain. She came out, and she was just so strong and so independent and wrote all her own songs. That meant so much to me, even as a 10-year-old. Just knowing that the stories she was telling in those songs--those were her stories.

I grew up listening to heavy metal and rock, yet I find your songs really catchy. What sort of music do you listen to?

Taylor: I've always loved Def Leppard, ever since I was little. I got to do a TV concert called CMT Crossroads with them, where they pair up a country artist with legends in rock 'n' roll. I was singing Def Leppard songs, and they were singing my songs. It was just a complete out-of-body experience.

What advice do you have for aspiring songwriters?

Taylor: Write your songs not for a demographic or for getting on the radio. Write your songs for the person you're writing that song about. When I sit down, I say to myself, "O.K., who is this about? What would I say to him right now if I could?"

You have so many unrecorded covers floating around on YouTube. Do you think you'll ever make an album of just covers?

Taylor: I don't think I'd ever make an album of just covers because I love writing my own music. In concert, I love doing pop covers like Beyoncé or Rihanna--things that people wouldn't expect. But I usually try to cycle them through every couple of months, because if I didn't write it, it's easier for me to get tired singing it live.

Do you think you have influenced the younger generation to appreciate country more?

Taylor: So many girls come up and say to me, "I have never listened to country music in my life. I didn't even know my town had a country-music station. Then I got your record, and now I'm obsessed." That's the coolest compliment to me.

What other artists would you like to do a duet with?

Taylor: I would like to do a duet with Taylor Hanson, because I have loved Hanson since I was 8. And Taylor Hanson has an amazing voice. And also we're both named Taylor.

All true. All you.

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