The man who inspired "Hey Stephen" is Love and Theft singer Stephen Barker Liles

By Eileen Finan
Updated December 02, 2008 06:00 PM
Credit: courtesy Lyric Street Records; Tony R. Phipps/FilmMagic

Guys don’t always fare well in Taylor Swift‘s songs – just ask former flame Joe Jonas who was skewered in her break-up tune “Forever & Always.”

But when singer Stephen Barker Liles got a call from Swift hinting that he was featured on her new album, Fearless, there was no need to worry.

With lyrics like, “Cause I can’t help it if you look like an angel/Can’t help it if I wanna kiss you in the rain,” his namesake tune, “Hey Stephen,” is no angry anthem.

“It’s totally flattering to have somebody write a song like that for you,” says Liles, 24, who first met Swift, 18, backstage at an event in 2007.

The two singers got to know each other better when his band, Nashville-based pop group Love and Theft, opened for Swift during some of her tour dates this year.

While Swift (who calls Love and Theft her “favorite band” in a video posted on the group’s MySpace page) won’t officially confirm the subject of her song, the words “Love and Theft” are spelled out in code in the song’s lyric sheet.

Of her inspiration, she tells PEOPLE: “I wrote this song last year about a guy named Stephen who I thought was cute. Sometimes all it takes to write a song about someone is thinking that they’re cute.”

Still, despite the tune’s romantic sentiment, a source close to the singer insists the two were never an item. “It was a brief crush – nothing more,” the source says. “They didn t date.”

Meanwhile, Liles says they are good pals. “We’ve become great friends since Love and Theft started opening shows for her,” he tells PEOPLE. “I think everyone would agree she’s a total sweetheart and anyone would be lucky to go out with her.”