Taylor Swift is the first to admit she’s grown up a lot in the past few years.


When she was still a high school student, Swift was more reckless in her relationships. You can hear it in songs like Fifteen where she’s eager to find love, jumping in head first without looking back. You can also see it in the title of her second album – Fearless.


But now, at 20, she’s more cautious -- careful.


“As you experience love, as you experience more relationships, you start to realize that sometimes, most times actually, love ends in goodbye,” the singer-songwriter says about the songs from her third CD, Speak Now.

“Love ends in pain and hurt, whether you’ve gone through it, or you see your parents go through it or you see your family and friends go through it.

“We get a little bit damaged by the times that love didn’t work out and we carry that with us when we’re starting a new relationship. Every time there’s an argument or an issue in that new relationship, we have those ghosts pop up in our rearview mirror of all the times love hasn’t worked out before. (The song) Mine is about … if you want to overcome all that, if you want to make a relationship work, you have to block out those ghosts in the rearview mirror and those voices saying this is going to end like all the rest of them did.”

Swift is on the phone from Nashville, where she’s undergoing an endless stream of 10-minute interviews in the carefully orchestrated buildup to release of Speak Now, which hits record stores across the continent Tuesday. She’s chatty and, at times, playful. Her answers are well thought-out, spoken in complete sentences. She‘s opening up her deepest feelings to a complete stranger, but still guarded about the details. All her fans seem to be aware of her past love interests, which include pop rocker Joe Jonas and Twilight actor Taylor Lautner. But still, she won’t attach names to the songs. She’s being ‘careful.’

The toughest track for Swift to write was Innocent. It’s about Kanye West, who humiliated Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards by interrupting her acceptance speech. She performed it at this year’s VMAs with West in attendance. The song could easily have been an angry one, but Swift chose to take the high road. Instead of anger, she expresses understanding.

“There are some songs that take 30 minutes to write and there are some songs that take six months to write,” she explains. “When things really intensely affect me emotionally, sometimes knowing what to think, knowing what to say, and knowing how to feel take a very long time to determine.”