The ''Speak Now'' singer browses albums by Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams, and more


The Great Escape Music Store Nashville, October 7, 2010

Her curls peeking out beneath a gray knit beret, Taylor Swift is trying hard to be just another neighborhood regular as she quietly flips through vinyl inside Nashville’s The Great Escape record store. She’s failing miserably. The smattering of customers shopping this Thursday afternoon are all eyeing her, hovering, waiting for somebody bold to make the first move.

Swift, meanwhile, is holding up two Bruce Springsteen LPs, debating. With its 13 tracks, Working on a Dream (2009) seems to have the edge (”13 songs is lucky,” she says), but there’s the stark portrait of the Boss on 2007’s Magic to consider. ”A vinyl album cover can draw you in,” she says admiringly. Eventually, she decides to buy them both.

It turns out Swift is obsessed with vinyl LPs. Her record player has a ”central, prominent location” in her kitchen, and she toured with a turn- table for dressing-room listening sessions with her band. Swift even insisted that her new album, Speak Now (out Oct. 25), be available as a record. ”The vinyl is really important to me,” she says, ”because I’m so in love with the concept of an album — a collection of memories from your life that you’re giving to people. It’s a piece of you. Buying them on vinyl is just taking that one step further and acknowledging that albums are important.”

On previous visits to the shop’s cluttered aisles (sadly, this particular outpost of the five-store chain is closing on Oct. 17), the 20-year-old singer has stocked up on treasures like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 1976 self-titled debut. ”Tom Petty is on a pedestal for me,” she says. ”I want to hear him in every possible way I can.” Today she breezes through the John Mayer section before making an abrupt stop at Iron & Wine (a.k.a. singer-songwriter Sam Beam). ”Ah, this is important,” she says. ”I love him. Certain voices make me feel like it would be a really cool soundtrack to your life, all the time.”

Then, as Swift heads for the Ryan Adams section, one fan can contain himself no more and attempts a furtive snapshot with his phone. With impeccable timing, Swift flashes a smile just before the click. ”Did you catch me?” he asks sheepishly. ”I did,” she says. ”But don’t worry about it.” She turns back to Adams, adding his 2007 album, Easy Tiger, to her pile. ”His music is so emotional, and that works so well on a record player.”

Onlookers are now advancing one by one, seeking autographs, pictures, even decorating advice (”Which album cover would you hang in your room — Journey or Barbra Streisand?” Her answer: Barbra, due to its neutral color). It’s all met with unfailing politeness.

Finally Swift makes her way to the register with her selections. But there’s still one more record to drool over: her own. Right after leaving the store, she’s presented with a vinyl copy of Speak Now, which she’s seeing for the very first time. As she runs her hands over the smooth, glossy cover, Swift is overjoyed. ”It’s like Christmas,” she says. ”Oh my God, whoa! This is so crazy. It feels unreal. I’m so happy about this.”

Bruce Springsteen
Working on a Dream (2009) and Magic (2007) Swift couldn’t decide between this pair of Springsteen albums, so she opted for both. ”He’s just so musically relevant after such a long period of time,” she says. ”Seeing that inspires me.”

Ryan Adams
Easy Tiger (2007) Swift is a fan of the singer-songwriter, and this colorful record sealed the deal. ”I’ve loved every other album of his I have,” she says. ”And I saw the orange vinyl and it was like, ‘Yes, please!”’

Kris Kristofferson
Songs of Kristofferson (1977) Swift recently met him at a benefit in L.A. ”It was soooo cool,” she says. ”He’s so lovable and wise. I just want to dig into his musical repertoire and know as much as I can.”

Dolly Parton Linda Ronstadt Emmylou Harris
Trio (1987) ”I had to have it,” says Swift. ”Think of the creative thoughts that have come from the three of them. I just wanted a piece of their musical history.”

The Black Keys
Rubber Factory (2004) Swift wasn’t familiar with the band, but she couldn’t take her eyes off this 2004 album’s 2010 special-edition picture disc. ”When there’s [a cover] that’s beautiful,” she explains, ”you gravitate toward it.”