The pop superstar discusses the intricacies of songwriting.
Taylor Swift is one of the most prolific songwriters of all time. At just 20, she wrote her entire Speak Now album by herself.
Since then, she has become one of the music industry’s most respected, esteemed and acclaimed writers.
For fans, she provides stunningly real insights into her own life, that are accessible and relatable enough for fans to adapt to their own experiences. All while still knowing exactly how to come up with the perfect hook and a catchy chorus.
In the June edition of Elle Magazine, one of Swift’s close friends interviewed the star about her creative process.
On the introspective 1989 album closer Clean:
“I wrote [it] as I was walking out of Liberty in London. Someone I used to date—it hit me that I’d been in the same city as him for two weeks and I hadn’t thought about it. When it did hit me, it was like, Oh, I hope he’s doing well. And nothing else. And you know how it is when you’re going through heartbreak. A heartbroken person is unlike any other person. Their time moves at a completely different pace than ours. It’s this mental, physical, emotional ache and feeling so conflicted. Nothing distracts you from it. Then time passes, and the more you live your life and create new habits, you get used to not having a text message every morning saying, “Hello, beautiful. Good morning.” All of a sudden one day you’re in London and you realize you’ve been in the same place as your ex for two weeks and you’re fine. And you hope he’s fine. The first thought that came to my mind was, “I’m finally clean.””
On bonus track You Are In Love, written for friend Lena Dunham about her relationship:
Yeah. I’ve never had [a partner call her his best friend], so I wrote that song about things that Lena [Dunham] has told me about her and Jack [Antonoff]. That’s just basically stuff she’s told me. And I think that that kind of relationship—God, it sounds like it would just be so beautiful—would also be hard. It would also be mundane at times.
On how her songwriting style has changed over the years:
I’d never been in a relationship when I wrote my first couple of albums, so these were all projections of what I thought they might be like. They were based on movies and books and songs and literature that tell us that a relationship is the most magical thing that can ever happen to you. And then once I fell in love, or thought I was in love, and then experienced disappointment or it just not working out a few times, I realized there’s this idea of happily ever after which in real life doesn’t happen. There’s no riding off into the sunset, because the camera always keeps rolling in real life.
On her image change and how it differs from the usual “rebellion” most celebrities undertake:
I feel no need to burn down the house I built by hand. I can make additions to it. I can redecorate. But I built this. And so I’m not going to sit there and say, “Oh, I wish I hadn’t had corkscrew-curly hair and worn cowboy boots and sundresses to awards shows when I was 17; I wish I hadn’t gone through that fairy-tale phase where I just wanted to wear princess dresses to awards shows every single time.” Because I made those choices. I did that. It was part of me growing up. It wasn’t some committee going, “You know what Taylor needs to be this year?”
The magazine, featuring the full interview, is available from May 19.