"Taylor is all of us." Our editor-in-chief reflects on GL's love for Taylor Swift over the years

The first time I heard Taylor Swift's name was early 2008. A former GL editor had gone to work for a record label and told me about a new talent they were really excited about. ("She writes about teen girl stuff—you'll love her!") OK, I'll do a friend a favor, I thought, so I sent Mandy Forr, our entertainment editor at the time, to go see Taylor at a small weekend show in Pennsylvania. 

Mandy wasn't the type to gush over celebrities, so I wasn't exactly expecting the answer I got that Monday: "I love her. I want her to be my very best friend. I want us to have sleepovers and make brownies and tell each other our secrets." Mmk. Mandy slipped me Taylor's debut CD (yep, those were still a thing), and I went to the office to listen. And, like the rest of the planet, I haven't stopped listening since. 

I can't say I was a country superfan at the time, but her songwriting was incredible. By that afternoon, I'd booked Taylor for her first GL cover. 

Fast forward to our Dec/Jan 2009 cover shoot. Taylor was totally herself with zero worry about the camera (a rarity). She loved everything (I love my hair! I love my makeup! I love this dress!)...and everyone. At one point, she came over to me and leaned on my shoulder as I looked at some Polaroids. 

Not a lot of women are taller than me (I'm 5'10") so her closeness almost startled me, but I could only think one thing: I love you. I want you to be my very best friend. I want us to have sleepovers and make brownies and tell each other our secrets. 

Of course, GL's love affair with Taylor (much like the world's) would carry on for years. She'd go on to do two more covers, including our 20th anniversary cover. While it never hurts to have the most famous person on Earth gracing your issue, our Taylor obsession meant way more than that: Her songs speak to us in a way nothing else does. 

I could make endless observations as to why. Her raw revelations. Her tight coils of emotion. Her talent for nailing specific and universal feelings. Her instant scene-setting. Her casual darkness. Even her self-aware self-owns and quintessential sick burns. 

Taylor is all of us. And, of course, none of us.

It's been years since the last time she walked out of our photo studio, off to get fro-yo at her (then) new discovery Menchie's. As she wiped off the last of her makeup, Taylor turned to me. "Hey," she said, "why don't you come with us? It's really good!"

I paused. Knowing it would likely be the last time I'd see her, I wanted to thank her for, well, everything—her music, her talent, her authenticity. Instead, I just mumbled something about having too much work left to do and watched the biggest superstar on the planet smile, wave and float out the door. 

Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our April/May 2023 issue. Get your copy HERE.

Header image: @taylorswift
Slider image: @swiftie_ts13
GIF via Giphy


by Karen Bokram | 3/17/2023