Swift friendship

Taylor Swift in “Picture to Burn.”

Josh Rouse

The scene begins in a car, with the pair of friends spying on an ex-boyfriend. A vehicle arrives, and behind a pair of binoculars comes a shocking statement.

“He’s got a girl with him… she’s driving the truck.”

The scene is from Taylor Swift’s “Picture to Burn” music video, and the voice belongs to her best friend Abigail Anderson, who will begin her collegiate career next year at the University of Kansas.

“That’s actually kind of what we’re known for,” said Anderson of their real-life adventures. “We don’t use binoculars or anything like that; we go more like stealth mode. We don’t stake out at someone’s house, we just do a drive-by just to check up on them and see how they’re doing. There’s no harm.”

While the scene is a fitting beginning to the video, the beginning of this friendship began during their ninth-grade year. Swift and Anderson were taking the same English class, and the discussion had turned to Shakespeare. It was then that they learned what they had in common.

“We were the ones in the back of the class saying negative things about Romeo and Juliet because we were so bitter toward that emotion at the time,” said Anderson.

“We just really connected; we were obsessed with Napoleon Dynamite, and ever since then we have been inseparable.”

Coming to Kansas

Anderson, who signed a National Letter of Intent last November to join the swimming program at KU, said she wanted to choose a school early to take some of the pressure off of her for swimming. She was a three-time high school All-American during her time at Hendersonville High School in Tennessee.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my entire life,” said Anderson. “I looked at a lot of great schools and Kansas was ranked awesome in the journalism program. Their swimming is awesome. I was totally surprised by the campus. The biggest thing for me is to get away. I’ve lived here my entire life and I’m so ready to just move on. If it doesn’t work for me, at least I tried.”

In the process of moving on, Anderson will also be moving further away from Swift. However, they have learned how to make the friendship work despite the distance between them.

“We’ve thought about it, we’ve cried about it,” said Anderson. “It’s going to be difficult. What we have as an advantage is that I’ve gone through the past few years of not having her physically around. She’s been on radio tours, she’s been on headline tours, she’s been out on the road with Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley. Sometimes I’ve gone without seeing her for an entire month. It gets really hard, but it’s that time in our lives where I have to go. It’s been difficult, but we’re kind of used to it.”

With her best friend making the move to Kansas, Taylor may be doing more shows in Kansas after this semester. Anderson said they had already talked about her scheduling arrangements and hoped she would have plenty of opportunities to see her in the future.

“We’ve already talked about it and she’s going to schedule as many [shows in Kansas] as possible,” said Anderson. “We’re going to make it work. I’m not too concerned with that.”

Their song

“She signed when she got here as a songwriter, and it was just really interesting being able to follow her,” said Anderson. “She came and she entered in the talent show the first week she moved here and everybody was just amazed by this girl’s ability.”

Through the years, Anderson has been able to watch her friend write song after song while chasing her dream of stardom. As a result, some of Anderson’s own experiences have made their way into Swift’s lyrics.

“The thing is, we don’t sit down and talk about what she needs, but many times she has been inspired by like a story of mine or something I experienced,” said Anderson. “Because we’re so close she experiences it too.”

In fact, one of the songs on Swift’s upcoming album is all about Swift’s friendships. The song is called “15,” which is the age Taylor and Abigail were when they really became close. Anderson said she is excited to see how it turns out.

Proud moment

Just weeks ago, Swift won the “Video of the Year” and “Female Video of the Year” awards at the 2008 CMT Music Awards. Anderson said seeing her friend get so much recognition for the hard work she does is a proud and inspiring experience.

“Oh my gosh, I never get used to seeing her on TV or hearing her on the radio, but to watch something like that, it really, honestly brings tears to my eyes,” said Anderson. “I’ve watched from the beginning. I’ve watched her be denied by record labels. I’ve watched her play guitar until her fingers bleed. It’s so awesome to see somebody succeed, to see somebody put so much effort into something. It’s very, very inspiring to be on the sidelines and be able to witness something like that.”

Country cameo Anderson has had a cameo role in three of Taylor Swift’s music videos: “Picture to Burn,” “I’m Only Me When I’m With You” and “Teardrops On My Guitar.”

“I’m obsessed with that whole scene and everything,” said Anderson. “It’s a great opportunity for somebody my age to just follow her. I’m not so much following in her footsteps, but just getting to experience and witness what somebody goes through when they become a celebrity or they are in the limelight. Any opportunity she gives me like that, I definitely take it.”