Taylor Swift’s new album Lover has just dropped, and Swiftes are eagerly examining her songs to figure out what they mean, and which ex-boyfriend or nemesis they are about. Swift’s song meanings can be very literal — like “You Need To Calm Down” — or more abstract, such as “Death By a Thousand Cuts.” Sure, it seems like it’s about a brutal relationship, but Swift reveals that the song’s inspiration came not from the pages of her journal, but from Netflix.
“I think that when people make art, other people make art, and especially women who make art, I find it highly inspiring,” said Swift to iHeartRadio's Elvis Duran. “I watched this movie on Netflix called Someone Great. I cried [while] watching the movie. For about a week, I start waking up from dreams that I'm living out that scenario — that that's happening to me. I'd have these lyrics in my head based on the dynamics of these characters and I went [into] the studio with Jack Antonoff.”
Someone Great is the story of three women who are best friends. One character, Jenny, painfully breaks up with her boyfriend of nine years because the two had become distant. It was written and directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, and stars Gina Rodriguez as Jenny. Swift said that the movie is “about how she has to end this relationship that she didn't want to end because she's still in love with the person, but they just grew apart and he's not a jerk.”
When Kaytin Robinson learned that “Death By a Thousand Cuts” was about her film, she called the moment “surreal,” writing on Instagram that Swift’s music was also deeply inspiring to her. “I found the most comfort in 'Clean,' a song about rebirth after love lost. It inspired me and Someone Great. And now, in the most surreal, what the fuck is even happening, full circle situation I find myself with a new song that will help me through heartbreak.”
Swift’s music has always been interpreted as being deeply personal, but in “Death by a Thousand Cuts,” we see her being just as invested in the art of other people. Someone Great was a movie that spoke to a lot of people — and it spoke to Swift, too.