From a small-town teen with a guitar, an incredible talent for writing songs, and a big dream, Taylor Swift has made herself a household name. Over the past few years, she has reached new heights in her career with the successful release – even record-breaking – of her re-recorded songs and sold-out stadium tours. TIME Magazine even named her their Person of the Year for 2023.
Of course, her success came with a lot of challenges. One of those was debates on her music genre.
Swift’s roots have always been country, but a few country traditionalists would argue that isn’t the case. “Swift has always been pop,” they said when she announced 1989 as her first official pop album.
While she did have a rather strong pop influence, which was evident in her transitional album, Red (2012), she was still as country as country gets in Taylor Swift (2006), Fearless (2008), and Speak Now (2010). Rolling Stone noted that her signature tracks from those three albums “evoked classic country in their instrumentation, themes, and song structure.”
With these things said, below are our 15 favorite songs from her country catalog:
1. “Tim McGraw”
First on the list is her debut single, “Tim McGraw,” a story of her summer romance turning into a lost love. This song packs vivid imagery of a nostalgic teenage romantic rush, and despite it being written by a seventeen-year-old, it has the maturity of an old soul. The sound choice – country twang at the intro and the harmonies of the instrumentals – gives it a fresh and crisp vibe that blends well with the lyrics.
It is the kind of song that just gets better with time. Also, it being a debut song makes it even more impressive.
2. “Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)”
This track is quite underrated, and it honestly deserves so much love. It captures life at its different stages and in a complete and detailed way in just three minutes and thirty-three seconds. You could listen to it at any stage of your life, and it will still give you the warm fuzzies.
3. “Picture To Burn”
“Picture To Burn” has been controversial with its lyrics, and there have been a few edits since then. Despite that, it’s still a favorite among fans (just like us). It’s because of its slightly unhinged character, which has a brash perspective, cheeky lyrics, and sassy delivery.
Some say it’s the angsty country version of “I Forgot That You Existed” from her Lover album, and we agree. The boot-stomping sound with rock influence definitely gave that extra angst.
Nothing gets more iconic than “I don’t know why/ But with you I’d dance/ In a storm in my best dress/ Fearless.” There’s a full emotional impact when she delivers these lyrics – a teenage passion anyone could relate to at some point in their lives. Even when she re-recorded the song for TV (Taylor’s Version) with a now more mature voice, the song still drives an impact. That just goes to show how timeless of a classic it is.
5. “Love Story”
“Love Story” was every girl’s religion when it first came out – everybody was way into fairytales. As they say, anyone can write a love story, but not everyone can write a love story like Taylor Swift.
It has a catchy storyline, a memorable bridge, and an instrumentation that feels like falling in love as a teenager. No wonder it’s one of her most popular signature tracks. Even non-Swifties know the song and could probably sing along to every lyric.
Even more interesting is that it would officially become a proposal song years later. (We’ve all seen the adorable videos of guys bending down on one knee as Taylor sings, “He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring and said.” 😊 They’re too cute!!)
6. “You Belong With Me”
Everyone probably remembers this song because of its music video, where the football quarterback ultimately falls in love with someone on the bleachers, not the cliche cheer captain. It’s so relatable because, at one point in our lives, we wished that someone would choose us instead of that one person who obviously wasn’t really into them.
Plus, it’s such a bop. You can’t tell us otherwise. (For the record, we disagree that it reeks of “not like other girls.” It’s a simple song written by a teenager who just wanted to get her crush to notice her.)
7. “White Horse”
This song is the tragic breakup song of Swift’s country catalog. While “Love Story” is the fairytale, when everything came together happily ever after, “White Horse” is the alternate ending where they, unfortunately, didn’t live happily ever after.
This song marked the shift from the romanticized outlook in the previous tracks in Swift’s Fearless album to a more cynical one. Honestly, we sometimes need that kind of perspective in life.
8. “Forever & Always”
This song absolutely guts the heart. If “White Horse” is the breakup, “Forever & Always” is more in tune with the last moments of a relationship. It particularly fits that time when you know they’re pulling away, and it’s ending, but you’re still clinging on to them.
The emotion in every lyric is so enunciated that you can hear the layers of anger, frustration, and betrayal in her voice. Many would agree that for her to write a song like this at a very young age is just mind-blowing. (Oh, and the Piano Version also hits differently.)
9. “The Best Day”
One of the best music combinations would be Taylor Swift and melodrama. “The Best Day,” her sweet and simple acoustic ode to her mom, Andrea, is probably one of the best examples. It shows how unconditional a mother’s love can be.
As you age, it gets better and more meaningful. Even more so when you’ve come full circle and become a parent – at which point it would also give you a whole new perspective about it.
“Mean” perfectly fits the classic country definition with its simple arrangement of banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and light handclaps. Layering that with classically petty to absolutely savage lyrics as a biting retort to her “liar, pathetic, alone in life, mean” critics make for a really fun and charming song.
11. “The Story Of Us”
Not all breakups are tragic. Some are rather unspectacular with a lingering awkwardness, which Swift has easily crafted into a song titled “The Story Of Us.” It’s not just how she could creatively inject the mundane into the song; it’s also the delivery and her adlibs, the voice cracking, and the volume buildup until she crashes into the chorus that elevates it into one of our favorite songs.
12. “Never Grow Up”
This song can make anyone choke up every single listen, and sometimes, it gets skipped because it’s too much to handle. It’s like an old soul telling you to appreciate and cherish your parents, who are learning about life just like you do, though differently. Like “The Best Day,” it’s one of those songs you appreciate more when you’ve come full circle.
If you’ve ever heard the saying that there is a Taylor Swift song for every stage of your life and for every emotion you’re feeling, that couldn’t be more right. We’ve had love covered in this list, but there’s still quite a blank space for the moment you meet someone new who reaches your heart. “Enchanted” is that song you play for that.
It perfectly captures the spark of joy and excitement of love’s sweet and innocent beginnings. The bridge where she writes hoping he wouldn’t be in love with someone else is also heart-tugging.
14. “If This Was A Movie”
This song is also one of those criminally underrated songs from Swift’s discography. So, here’s why it deserves a spot as a favorite: First, lyrically, it painfully captures that moment when you realize that your life isn’t going to go the way you dreamed or wanted it to. Sonically, the fade out to the outro as she sings, “I thought you’d be here by now,” is so heartbreaking.
The whole song is just so emotionally intense, but at the same time, it has a softness in it with its fragility and vulnerability.
15. “Long Live”
Capping off our list of country favorites by Swift is “Long Live.” This song was inspired by a backstage moment, listening to the fans screaming for her and her band to come out. She was at the apex of her career then and thought that was it. That was why it’s almost like a happy goodbye because it’s a culmination of moments, memories, and experiences.
But it was just the beginning of her long, successful life as an artist. Over the years, it has evolved into a fan song – a reflection of good times shared and a celebration of all the achievements.
There you have it! That’s a wrap on our favorite Taylor Swift country songs. We hope you check them out yourself if you’ve been looking into listening to any of Taylor’s songs lately.