Liz Rose Talks About Her Hit Collaboration With Taylor Swift

Grammy-winning songwriter Liz Rose had no plans of being a tunesmith. The former stay-at-home mom moved to Nashville with her husband in 1994, and after her children started school, she landed a job as a songplugger. Later, she started a small publishing house where she and eventually began to pen songs with some her writers.

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Rose can make up and sing melodies which she does a lot. Mainly, she is known as a lyricist except with her most well-known co-writer, Taylor Swift.

"I can’t be the lyricist with Taylor Swift because I’m 30 years older than her," she said laughing. "That would be weird. What I do with Taylor is completely different than what I do with other people, She’s very lyrical. She’s very brilliant. She’d say a line and I’d say, ‘What if we say it like this?’ It’s kind of like editing, but you hate to say it. In some cases it is. We just bounce ideas off each other really well."

The two tunesmiths first met at a Nashville club when Swift was 13 and had a development deal with RCA Records. “It was funny for somebody who doesn’t sing. I actually did a songwriters round and sang two songs, and she came up to me and said, ‘I really like that song. Would you write with me?’ I think at the time I had “Songs About Rain” (Gary Allan single) out, a Tim McGraw cut (“All We Ever Find”), and another song, “Why I Hate Pontiacs” (Rebecca Lynn Howard), and she knew those songs. We wrote and figured out that it really worked. She figured out she could write Taylor Swift songs, and I wouldn’t get in the way. I didn’t say ‘Oh, this would be more commercial’ or ‘You can’t say that. You want to say that. Cool, we’ll say that.’ I’m not 14. We’re not writing Liz Rose songs. We’re writing Taylor Swift songs.

"I would just help her. We just had a great mutual respect for each other and had a lot of fun."

Their fun turned into a hit-making factory with the twosome penning together 16 of Swift’s songs, including seven co-writing credits for Rose on Taylor’s self-titled debut album. The cuts included the first two singles, “Tim McGraw” and “Teardrops on My Guitar,” which helped Rose win a Songwriter of the Year award from SESAC in 2007. They also wrote the Grammy- winning Country Song of the Year, “White Horse.” and the 2010 BMI Song of the Year, “You Belong with Me,” which also was nominated for a Grammy.

"We just work well together," Rose says of her successful collaboration. "She knows what songs to bring to me. The first time I wrote with her I was like ‘Whoa.’ At the time she had songs she had written by herself."

Her favorite co-write with Taylor is “All Too Well” from Swift’s latest album, Red. “It was more of a story,” Rose explains. “It was probably 10 minutes long in her head. She called me and started bouncing it off me, and we whittled it down quite a bit into a song. It was a very emotional time for her, and I’m honored that she trusts me with her feelings to make sure we get it right because it was an important song to her.” 

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