Taylor Swift’s ‘Hey Stephen’ Inspiration Returns the Favor
In 2008, Taylor Swift's then-just-released album, 'Fearless,' became a monster hit and garnered lots of attention not only for the singer but for the subjects of her deeply personal songs. One such tune was 'Hey Stephen,' which included dreamy, romantic lines such as, "I can't help it if you look like an angel / Can't help it if I wanna kiss you in the rain" and "come feel this magic I've been feeling since I met you." Taylor revealed later that the song's inspiration was Stephen Barker Liles of the group Love and Theft, whom the then-teenaged superstar cited as one of her favorite bands.
After the endless scrutinizing of Taylor's body of work became a favorite national pastime, the then-trio released their debut album, and naturally, the song came up in conversation with them often.
"I hadn't heard it yet," Stephen revealed to The Boot at the time. "She told me about the song. But she didn't say like, 'I wrote a nice song about you,' so I'm just thinking, 'What did I do?' [laughs] Because she doesn't really write very many nice songs about guys. So I was very relieved when it turned out to be a nice song, and it's actually one of the nicest things anybody's ever done for me."
What many fans may not realize is that Stephen had also been writing a song about Taylor at the time.
"It was a weird moment," Stephen tells Planet Verge. "Because I wasn't expecting her to say she wrote a song for me and I think it was a mutual thing on her end, too. She asked me what the words were so I only told her a little bit. I was like, 'This world is goin' crazy, but baby what do you say we try to make it anyway?' And that was that."
Well, not exactly. Stephen made a recording of the song and filmed a homemade video to go with it. [Watch it below.]
"I did the recording in the studio I have in my house and filmed the video in my backyard, in my barn actually," he says. "My buddy Aaron Thomas helped me out with all of that. I really just love songwriting and this song has become one of my favorite songs I've ever written."
Although Brian Bandas left the group at the end of 2010, Stephen says he and now-duo partner Eric Gunderson have been in the studio, recording material with producer Josh Leo for a new label.
"Lord willing, we'll be putting out a new song real soon," he notes. "We'll be making those announcements here in the next few weeks, so everything is moving forward and we're really stoked about the new direction we're going."