Taylor Swift: The Garden In The Machine

Perhaps more important than the mere fact that she broadened her skill set, however, was the fact that through striking out to distinguish herself from the crowd she discovered her greatest passion. “Songwriting became my one true love,” she says. “It became the thing I could never put down. I became obsessed with it.”

In Nashville, writing and performing your own songs will open many doors that might otherwise be closed. In Swift’s case, one of those newly-opened doors led to the office of RCA Nashville Chairman Joe Galante. The 13-year-old Swift played a series of her original material for the legendary record executive, and she walked out of his office with a developmental recording contract.

And then, about a year later, she walked away from that contract.

“I wanted to be somewhere where the songwriting was placed at the forefront,” she says of her decision. “I wanted to be somewhere where I knew I would get to write every song on my album. I realized that that was where I wanted to place my priority. I wanted a publishing deal. So, one day, I walked into Sony/ATV and it was clear to me that they were really passionate about artists and about developing artists who were writers.”

Once again, Swift sat in an office, in front of an executive (this time, the office of publisher Arthur Buenahora) with just her guitar and her words. And once again, that was enough to impress the decision makers.

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