Lori McKenna is known for various hits. She’s written songs that have been recorded by Tim McGraw, George Strait, Little Big Town, Sara Bareilles, Lady Gaga, and many more. With cuts on upcoming projects from Thomas Rhett, Hailey Whitters, and Maren Morris, McKenna was also the only co-writer to pen the song, “I Bet You Think About Me” with superstar Taylor Swift which appears on Swift’s latest release, Red (Taylor’s Version).
“That song was about 11 years old,” she pauses before adding, “We think.” Swift happened to be in the Boston area playing two sold-out shows at Gillette Stadium not too far from McKenna’s house. On the day of the second show, she visited Mckenna, they ate lunch and then planned to write together. “She had this little nugget of a song which was ‘I Bet You Think About Me,’ she knew that was the hook,” Mckenna tells us.
Swift had asked her if she should lean in the folk direction (which they did) and after that, the rest flowed blissfully as McKenna recalls, “I don’t remember anything other than sitting here watching how incredible she is. She knows what she wants to say and when she says the right thing, she remembers it. She didn’t write anything down. There was no recording of the song.” McKenna was writing the lyrics on her computer but Swift never looked at her screen. “If the line is right, she knows it’s right, and she remembers what it is,” she says.
Later that night, McKenna attended Swift’s show with her kids and when she was backstage, Swift played the song they had written together. “I’m like, how is this woman gonna get out there, do a completely choreographed show for 60 thousand people, and she’s singing the song that she just wrote two hours ago,” McKenna exclaims as she revisits the memory.
When Red originally came out in October of 2012, “I Bet You Think About Me” didn’t make the final tracklist; McKenna thinks it might’ve been too country-centric for the direction Swift was moving in. “When they get to the studio, things change. I’ve done it myself. That’s just how music works,” McKenna states, completely understanding the decision that must’ve been made behind the scenes. “But for her to bring back something that was 10 or 11 years old and be true to a song that she had in her heart that long ago is pretty cool. It’s something that a lot of artists don’t get to do.”
This past summer Swift contacted McKenna and they spoke over the phone. “I talked to her for like a half an hour on the phone. She was like, ‘Remember this part? And we added this part, and then this part,’ it was like we wrote it yesterday.” The new version features husky backing vocals from country hit-maker Chris Stapleton. “I love the way it came out,” McKenna declares. “It’s so true to that original thought she had. She followed through 11 years later.”
Make sure to come back to our site later this week to read our full interview with Grammy Award winner Lori McKenna.
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