Taylor Swift On Writing Songs About Boyfriends & Muses

Photo: LISA O'CONNOR/AFP/Getty Images.
Taylor Swift has emerged! Well, sort of. The press-shy pop star interviewed Beatles muse Pattie Boyd for a profile in Harper's Bazaar. Boyd wrote a memoir titled Wonderful Tonight about the way she inspired and interacted with music in the '60s and '70s. (A British supermodel, she first married George Harrison, and later married Eric Clapton.) The Eric Clapton song "Wonderful Tonight" is about Boyd. It's not clear why Boyd emerged for this interview, but it is clear that Swift is obsessed with her. Swift just hears "Wonderful Tonight," and she's ready to gush.
She's surprisingly forthcoming with Boyd. Remember: This is a girl who, on her most recent album, said "There will be no further explanation. There will be just reputation." But Boyd is a muse, and Swift bases her songs on famous muses like Harry Styles. They have a lot to discuss.
Advertisement
"You must be inspired by a few moments or something, the way your boyfriend turns or says something to you or a little bit of a smile," Boyd asks Swift. "Can you write it the moment it’s happening?"
Swift replies, "There are definitely moments when it’s like this cloud of an idea comes and just lands in front of your face, and you reach up and grab it...there are mystical, magical moments, inexplicable moments when an idea that is fully formed just pops into your head. And that’s the purest part of my job." She doesn't elaborate on who exactly inspires her, but reports from late last year suggest she gets inspiration from her current boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. Rumored past muses include but are not limited to: Harry Styles, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Mayer, Cory Monteith, Joe Jonas, and, very early on, Tim McGraw. This habit has made Swift the focus of a lot of negative media attention, so much so that she retreated, content to write poems and interview Pattie Boyd.
Later, Swift remarks somewhat tellingly, "It sounds like you take ownership of the past, and not just the good parts." Boyd, Swift notes, even published love notes from Clapton. Boyd is open about her history with fame's acid touch, the good parts and the bad. This isn't something Swift has done, at least as of yet. In 2016, following increasing media scrutiny and a dust-up with Kanye West, Swift withdrew from public life. She stopped posting on Instagram and declined media performances and interviews. When she returned, she claimed she was the "new Taylor." "New" Taylor was aware that Buzzfeed had written a thinkpiece about her enduring victimhood, but she didn't care. "New" Taylor seemed content to interact only with her most rabid fans. She didn't give interviews, but she lurked on Tumblr, a practice called "Taylurking." When British Vogue put her on its cover, she sent a poem instead of giving an interview. When TIME selected her as a silence-breaker, she gave a brief interview about her harassment case and nothing more.
Her interview in Harper's Bazaar, Boyd-focused as it is, appears to be the first reconciliation of Old Taylor (who's dead, per Tiffany Haddish) and New Taylor. By glancing at another woman's epic interactions with fame — Boyd was once harassed by Beatles fans in an alley — Swift is reckoning with her own.
Advertisement

More from Music

Watch

R29 Original Series