Taylor Swift knows how long an album’s journey can be … and how big the payoff can be.
The singing-songwriting superstar introduced “Red” in October 2012, and many of the quadruple-platinum-selling release’s songs became chart hits, often crossing between multiple genres. Its bids for both album of the year and country album are among Swift’s four nominations at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, which CBS televises from Los Angeles’ Staples Center at 8 tonight.
Already an owner of seven Grammys – including album of the year and country album for “Fearless” – Swift also is in the running for best country song of the year (for the “Red” cut “Begin Again”) and best country duo or group performance (with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban, for “Highway Don’t Care”).
In an interview for this article, Swift spoke about her process with “Red” and also about her generally stellar past year.
Q: What are your reflections on the path “Red” has taken, now that it’s up for several Grammys?
A: It’s astounding to me that the fans have carried out its life as long as they have. Getting the Grammy nomination for album of the year, that was the most incredible triumph for the album.
It’s the oldest contender in that category, and since it’s over a year old, I was a little afraid that people would forget about it. For it to be honored that way by musicians, producers, writers, all the people who vote for the Grammys, it’s the most incredible crowning achievement so far.
Q: What’s the feeling of seeing so many songs from the album – from “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “22” to “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “Everything Has Changed” – make their marks separately?
A: Seeing the tracks go out into the world and become different things, every song has a life of its own. Every one gets to have its shining moment, and that was the goal when I set out to make albums.
I’m a firm believer in optimism regarding the music industry. So many people are preaching doomsday, and I’m just not there. I just don’t feel it. Sales and stats show that if you are giving the fans part of your life, they will invest in it. I just refuse to believe we are going down in flames.
Q: Did you get added affirmation from the audience response during the North American leg of your “Red” tour?
A: There’s no way of defining why something connects or why it doesn’t, why a certain song works or why it doesn’t. We can try to explain it all we want, or why it’s escalated to the level that we’re now playing stadiums. I’m grateful for it, but there’s no way you can ever explain the connection you have with your fans. It’s more a gut-feeling kind of thing.
Q: As you start work on your fifth album, how is it to begin again?
A: I can’t believe we’re going on five albums now, when I feel like it’s still just the beginning. With this album, I’m not trying to open up a new chapter; I’m trying to start a completely new book.
It has to have the common thread of confessional songwriting and my fans getting a glimpse into what’s really happening in my life, but sonically, you can go anywhere. That’s the cool thing.