Back in 2009, Taylor Swift was already a star — hits like “Our Song” and “Love Story” had proved her power — but she wasn’t yet a global musical phenomenon. Rather, she was thoroughly country, just starting her first headlining tour and her fans had lots of unanswered questions.
That May, she sat down with TIME to answer some of them, dispensing advice for aspiring songwriters and dishing about the real-life inspirations for her songs (and, at one point, talking about how much she loves John Mayer, to whom she would later be romantically linked).
Watch that interview here.
Read TIME’s new cover story about the singer: The Power of Taylor Swift