Taylor Swift is the eponymous debut studio album by Taylor Swift. The album was released in late 2006 when Swift was just 16 years old, by Big Machine Records. Swift wrote songs for the album during her freshman year of high school and has writing credits on all of the albums' songs including those co-written with Liz Rose.
Swift experimented to record the album with several album producers, ultimately choosing the producer of her demo album, Nathan Chapman. Musically, the album is country music styled and lyrically, it speaks of romantic relationships, a couple of which Swift wrote from observing relationships before being in one.
- Tim McGraw
- Picture To Burn
- Teardrops on My Guitar
- A Place in This World
- Cold as You
- The Outside
- Tied Together with a Smile
- Stay Beautiful
- Should've Said No
- Mary's Song (Oh My My My)
- Our Song
- I'm Only Me When I'm With You
- A Perfectly Good Heart
When Taylor Swift was 11 years old, she and her family made their first visit to Nashville, Tennessee in pursuit of a record deal, though nothing came out of it.
Swift was judged and neglected by record labels for being too young. In regards to the labels which rejected her, she said, "I can understand. They were afraid to put out a 13-year-old. They were afraid to put out a 14-year-old. Then they were afraid to put out a 15-year-old. Then they were nervous about putting out a 16-year-old. And I'm sure if I hadn't signed with Scott Borchetta [head of Big Machine Records], everybody would be afraid to put out a 17-year-old."
While recording her demo album, Swift worked with demo producer Nathan Chapman, whom she met in a little shed behind a publishing company she was at.
Swift said, "I'd always go in there and play him some new songs, and the next week he would have this awesome track, on which he played every instrument, and it sounded like a record. We did this for a period of a year to two years before I got my record deal."
To record her debut album, Swift had to choose which album producer she would work with: "Then, all of a sudden, it was, 'OK, we're going to use this producer' or 'We're going to use that producer.'"
After experimenting with different producers, originating from Nashville, Swift chose Chapman because of the unique sound he put into songs.
Big Machine Records was skeptical about hiring Chapman because he had never done a studio album prior to "Taylor Swift", only demos.
Swift described the songs he produced as "the right chemistry hit[ting]" and therefore, Big Machine Records accepted Chapman producing some of the album's songs.
In the end, Chapman produced all but one of the tracks on the album. Recording was executed during a four-month period before 2005 was over.
Swift wrote the song "Tim McGraw" during her freshman year, knowing that she and her then-senior boyfriend, Brandon Borello, would break up at the end of the year when he left for college.
Rose said that Swift showed up at her after school job writing songs for Sony/ATV "with the idea and the melody. She knew exactly what she wanted."
The nostalgic song describes a summer romance and Swift's hope that when Borello "think[s] Tim McGraw" he would "think [her] favorite song" (McGraw's "Can't Tell Me Nothin") and remember her.
Conversely, "Picture to Burn" describes a girl furious after a break-up. Swift says that while the song is about "just being mad" and is "completely, brutally honest"; she gave it a comedic edge.
While at work after school, Swift "found [her]self just sitting there with [her] guitar going, 'I hate his stupid truck that he doesn't let me drive. He's such a redneck! Oh my God!'," a line which developed into the song's chorus. The up-tempo song is heavy with banjos and drums, while the chorus is marked by distorted guitars and big vocals
Swift wrote the autobiographical song "The Outside" as an outlet at age twelve, the year she began writing her own songs.
Like many of the other songs that Swift wrote early on, the song describes the unhappiness and loneliness that she felt when her love of country music alienated her from her peers.
Swift wrote "Tied Together with a Smile" the day she learned one of her best friends was bulimic, a fact which shocked her. She recalled, "How can somebody that seems so strong have such a horrible, horrible weakness? Something that is killing her."
The lyrics to "Tied Together with a Smile" describe a beautiful girl trying to hide her inner turbulence and mourn that "You're tied together with a smile/But you're coming undone". Swift commented, "I always thought that one of the biggest overlooked problems American girls face is insecurity."
She wrote "Should've Said No" according to "something really, really dramatic and crazy happening to [her] and [her] needing to address it in the form of music".
The song was a last minute addition to the album. Swift had written it two days before mastering was scheduled and booklets were about to be printed; she then called her producer and completed the song overnight.
"Mary's Song (Oh My My My)" was actually inspired by her next-door neighbors' long lasting marriage, being the opposite of what tabloids fixate on.
Swift wrote "Our Song" for her freshman year of high school talent show with no intentions of including it on the album.
She claimed she "just knew there was something about it" and chose to include it on the album. She said, "I wrote it about this guy I was dating, and how we didn't have a song. So I went ahead and wrote us one."
The song is a narrative and describes a young couple who use the events in their lives in place of a regular song. The banjo-riddled song is placed at the end of the album due to its closing lyrics, a request to "play it again".
"Invisible" is ballad describing loneliness and heartache of going unnoticed. Sean Dooley of About.com writes, the "piano-driven song [...] perfectly captures the awkward teenage angst we all endure—or have endured—at one time or another."
On the week ending November 11, 2006, "Taylor Swift" debuted at #19 on the Billboard 200 due to sales of 40,000 copies. The album reached its highest sales week on the week ending January 5, 2008 with 187,000 copies sold.
After 63 weeks on the Billboard 200, on the week ending January 19, 2008, the album reached its charting peak at number five due to sales of 47,000 copies.
The album marked the longest stay on the Billboard 200 by any album released in the decade. As of June 3, 2011, it has stayed on the chart for 275 weeks.
The album topped Billboard's Top Country Albums Chart for twenty-four non-consecutive weeks. On the week ending August 2, 2008, Swift's EP "Beautiful Eyes" replaced "Taylor Swift" as the chart's number one album.
With "Taylor Swift" charting at number two, Swift became the first artist to hold the first two positions on Billboard's Top Country Albums since LeAnn Rimes charted with "Blue" (in 1996) and "Unchained Melody: The Early Years" (in 1997).
In December 2017, the album was certified seven times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of seven million units. As of July 2019, it has sold 5.72 million copies in the United States.
Six years after its release, "Taylor Swift" debuted at number thirty-eight on the New Zealand Albums Chart.
The album peaked at #14 on the Canadian Albums Chart and at number-one on the Canadian Country Albums Chart. It was certified platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for the shipment of 80,000 copies.
In Australia, the album peaked at #33 on the main chart and at number three on the country-genre chart.
On the week ending September 5, 2009, "Taylor Swift" entered the UK Albums Chart at number 88; the following week, it reached its peak at #81.
The album has been certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales of more than 100,000 copies.
"Taylor Swift" received positive reviews from contemporary critics.
Jeff Tamarkin of AllMusic described Swift as "a fresh, still girlish voice, full of hope and naïveté, but it's also a confident and mature one". He said her "talent to be reckoned" was portrayed through the songs "Tim McGraw", "The Outside", and "Mary's Song (Oh My My My)". Tamarkin criticized producer Nathan Chapman for applying "a gloss that not all [songs] really require and in some cases would do better to shed".
Rick Bell of Country Standard Time gave a positive review, saying that Swift had "smart songwriting" and that "her deeply personal, self-penned songs, particularly 'The Outside' and 'Our Song'" were "stirring." He compared her sound to Cyndi Thomson and Hilary Duff.
Chris Neal of Country Weekly said that Swift "demonstrat[es] an honesty, intelligence and idealism with which listeners of any age will be able to connect" and added that "the more thoughtful material suggests a talent poised to last well past high school."
Ken Rosenbaum of The Toledo Blade wrote Swift "deftly handles lyrics and subjects in that shadowy area between teenager and womanhood."
Taylor Swift's first broadcast performance of "Tim McGraw" was on October 24, 2006 on "Good Morning America."
Other songs from Taylor Swift have been performed on television programs, award shows, and festivals such as The Megan Mullally Show, the New Faces Show, America's Got Talent, Total Request Live, the 2008 CMT Music Awards and the Academy of Country Music.
Swift spent much of 2006 promoting "Tim McGraw" and Taylor Swift in a radio tour. In regards to the extensive radio tour, she commented, "Radio tours for most artists last six weeks. Mine lasted six months. That's because I wanted it to. I wanted to meet every single one of the people that was helping me out."
Swift also promoted the album by performing as an opening act for several country artists' concert tours.
She opened for Rascal Flatts on several dates, from October 19 to November 3, 2006, included on the Me and My Gang Tour (2006–07), performing a total of five songs from the album.
Swift also served as opening act on twenty dates for George Strait's 2007 United States tour and selected dates for Brad Paisley's Bonfires & Amplifiers Tour (2007–08); she served as an opening act during all 2007 legs of the tour.
During mid-2007, Swift engaged as the opening act on several dates for Tim McGraw's and Faith Hill's joint tour, Soul2Soul II Tour (2006–07).
Swift again opened for Flatts for their Still Feels Good Tour in 2008. In addition, she performed six songs from "Taylor Swift" on her first headlining tour, the Fearless Tour (2009–10).