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Veteran Songwriter Liz Rose Shares Secret to Co-Writing With Taylor Swift: ‘I Didn’t Get in Her Way’

Taylor Swift Liz Rose
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Taylor Swift was still a teenager when she began scoring hit after hit in the country charts, leading some of her detractors to say that her more experienced Music Row co-writer was doing the heavy lifting. But in a new interview, songwriter Liz Rose says that simply wasn’t the case.

Rose was Swift’s co-writer on a string of her early hits, including ‘Tim McGraw,’ ‘Teardrops on My Guitar,’ ‘White Horse’ and ‘You Belong With Me.’

“Look at those lyrics,” she tells Yahoo! Music. “Those are the lyrics of a 13-, 14-, 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-year-old. We certainly weren’t writing 50-year-old Liz Rose songs — or 40-year-old, or however old I was then. I don’t think like that! It’s so funny to me that people could imagine that.”

In fact, Rose swears the exact opposite was true.

“The reason it worked is that I didn’t get in her way,” she says. “With Taylor, it really was editing. That’s never anything that she said — that’s just how it was… with her, that’s really what I do, and it’s unlike the way I’ve written with anybody else before or since. A lot of it with Taylor was editing and moving this there and saying, ‘Well, what if we said it like this?'”

Even at such a young age, Rose remembers her young collaborator possessed an unusual focus.

“I can remember times when I would try and throw out an idea for a new song: ‘How about we write this?’ And she would just go, ‘Yeah, I don’t think so. Go and write that with somebody else,'” she recalls. “Because Taylor always wanted to write her songs. And there was always so much going on in her brain, you just had to help her get it out and get it down. She always has a reason behind why she’s writing something. She’s lived it or felt it. She’s not making it up.”

That’s part of what makes Swift so special, according to Rose.

“I never wrote with Taylor thinking that we were going to pitch the song [to another artist]. I always knew that we were writing Taylor songs,” she says. “She really has her own way of saying things. I meet a lot of young girls that think they can be Taylor if I help them out, and I have to say to them, ‘These are Taylor’s words. There was no magic fairy dust around me. Taylor knew how to write a song at 13. So you need to go figure out how to write your song first.'”

Swift is scheduled to appear on Yahoo for an exclusive live streaming event on Monday (Aug. 18). It is widely expected that she will announce the release of a new studio album.

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