The singer invites audiences to join her in her return to the spotlight after the downfall brought on in part by a public feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in 2016.
Part of her reinvention involved finally speaking out about politics during the midterm elections in 2018 (despite fears for her safety from her family and team) and writing a song that directly spoke to the political issues in America. "Only The Young" didn't appear on her most recent album, Lover, but Swift gave fans a preview of the song in the documentary and shared her thoughts behind the dark, disturbing, politically-minded track.
"The first verse, I want to be all about hearing, you know, if you were a kid and you really loved Beto [O'Rourke] and thought that was the future of Texas. Or you thought Stacey Abrams [who ran for governor in Georgia] was going to win and you were going door to door trying to make it happen and she still gets beat. And it just didn't happen," she tells producer Joel Little in the doc. "But it's like, statistically, we have what 3 to 4 million people turning 18 before the next [election]? It's basically saying don't lose hope."
That sentiment is most clear in the chorus, when Swift sings, "Only the young / Only the young / Only the young / Can run."
She wants to remind those who feel defeated that it "won't be like this forever."
"Run, break away from this cycle," she urges in the song. "You can run from fascism."
The song's darkest moment comes when Swift writes from the perspective of a student living in fear of experiencing a school shooting, something that's become all too common in the U.S.
"So every day now you brace for the sound you've only heard on TV / You go to class scared, wondering where the best hiding spot would be," the lyrics go. "And the big bad man and his big bad clan / Their hands are stained with red / Oh how quickly you forget."
Her recent decision to speak out about politics was influenced, in part, by her experience with sexual assault. In 2013 she was groped by radio host David Mueller, igniting a legal battle that ended with him paying Swift a symbolic $1 after the jury sided with the singer on her countersuit in 2017.
“Our political opinions and our opinions are defined by what happens to us in our life," she said at the Sundance Film Festival premiere of Miss Americana, according to Deadline. "So that was one of those things that happened to me in my life, and then seeing what was happening in my home state, and it all culminating with having a conversation with people who’ve been so wonderfully supportive of me throughout my entire career, feeling so afraid for my safety. And so it’s a really real moment to watch that."
In one conversation in the film, she makes things crystal clear: She does not care for President Trump. The president claimed he liked her songs "25% less" after she came out in support of Democrats in the 2018 midterms — and "Only The Young" is aimed right at his 2020 reelection bid.