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Taylor Swift's Attitude of Gratitude

Taylor Swift's Songs and Lovers continued...

Swift returns the favor by divulging personal aspects of her love affairs in her lyrics, folding in clues to the subject's identity for her devotees. "If there were a guy who had been incredibly kind and good to me, he would have only gotten kind and good songs written about him, and there have been those guys," Swift says unapologetically. "Some of my favorite songs are about the wonderful people who have been in my life, like the singles 'Love Story,' 'You Belong With Me,' and 'Back to December.' But people also need the songs about what it's like to fall out of love or what it's like when your relationship takes a nosedive."

Remarkably, the singer, who has also been linked to celebrities Taylor Lautner and John Mayer, says suitors aren't discouraged. "Everyone starts a relationship well intentioned," she explains. "No one thinks, 'This will have a horrific, crazy downfall, and it will be chronicled on an album that teenagers will be singing to themselves in their bedrooms.'"

Taylor Swift: Homebody

Not long ago, Swift was that adolescent singing her own sad songs in her bedroom. Raised in rural Pennsylvania along with a younger brother, Austin, by a stockbroker father and stay-at-home mother, Swift says she suffered deeply as an outcast at school. She began writing songs at age 12 as a way of making sense of the experience. By 14 she was invested enough in the process that she convinced her family to move to Nashville, Tenn., where she could immerse herself in the songwriting community. Within months of arriving, she was signed as the youngest staff songwriter ever at Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

Throughout Swift's rise to fame, her mother has been her strongest ally. "I think who you are is really about how you are wired and how you respond to situations, and I was really shaped by who I was in school," Swift says. "I was never the person who was sought after or invited to things. My mother's been used to picking up my confidence since I was in middle school and dealing with mean girls. She was never about chasing the in-crowd or being cool. She was with us making grape jam in the kitchen and creating imaginary games with us. She was focused on our being happy."

Family and home are still Swift's greatest sources of pleasure. She owns an apartment in Nashville, lovingly decorated with antiques picked up on shopping trips with her mom while on the road. She counts among her favorite evenings the ones spent there with close friends --"We will have face-painting night or random things like that and talk about our relationships" -- or by herself, "watching an episode of Law and Order, CSI, or Grey's Anatomy, with my cat and some food nearby."

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