Taylor Swift told Great American Country about the lad who inspired this comeuppance song: "The guy I wrote this song about, I didn't really ever 'officially' date. We almost dated. It really bothered me that he was so cocky and that's where that song came from. After school, I would come into downtown. I had a publishing deal with Sony, and I would write songs every single day, exactly what I felt. I found myself just sitting there with my guitar going, 'I hate his stupid truck that he doesn't let me drive. He's such a redneck! Oh my Gosh!' That actually became the chorus to the song, so that's one of the most honest songs I've ever written."
This originally had the lyric: "Go and tell your friends that I'm obsessive and crazy, that's fine; I'll tell mine you're gay." Swift later adjusted that line so as not to give offense.
Taylor Swift said: "Before I sing this song, I always try to tell the audience that I really do try to be a nice person... but if you break my heart, hurt my feelings, or are really mean to me, I'm going to write a song about you. Haha. This song is the perfect example."
According to a report in The Daily Mail, Taylor Swift wrote this scathing song about her Hendersonville High School classmate, Jordan Alford. The pair dated before Jordan romanced another classmate, Chelsea, who would later become his wife. Chelsea recalled: 'We were kind of good friends at school, later not so much. She dated him, that's why. They dated in freshman year. 'Picture To Burn' is about him. Because he's always had big old trucks and stuff."
The couple were told by Taylor's best friend Abigail Anderson that the song was about Jordan. "We just thought it was funny," said Chelsea. "[Jordan] was like, 'I'm not a redneck! She makes me look like some redneck!' but other than that we just thought it was kind of funny."