Taylor Swift on What It Felt Like to Finally Write Songs That Weren’t Solely About Her Life

For the last decade and a half, Taylor Swift has dominated the music industry by regaling her fans with songs about her life. Though she is known across the globe as a singer, it is her songwriting abilities that have catapulted the folklore artist into superstardom. Swift now boasts eight solo studio albums and she has written or co-written each and every song that is featured on them.

Taylor Swift songs
Taylor Swift | ACMA2020/Getty Images for ACM

Though Swift has tried out quite a few musical genres throughout the course of her career, her lyrical abilities have remained consistent. For much of her career, Swift has utilized a narrative form of storytelling and taken events from her personal life (and the lives of her loved ones) to make her songs. In fact, Swift has even used music to give fans a glimpse into parts of her life that she won’t speak about publicly. A good example of this are her songs “Lover”, “False God”, and “Paper Rings”, which all give fans some account into her very private relationship with her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn.

Taylor Swift broke all her rules when she was writing ‘folklore’

Swift has long-since shared that she believes that her songwriting abilities are the secret to her success. She had been adamant that she wouldn’t be where she is today if she had not written and performed her own deeply personal music. The fact that her albums often double as diary entries into her life is another reason that she feels so strongly about having ownership of her own masters.

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But Swift’s latest album, folklore, seems to be a departure from only telling stories from her own life, at least in part. One can’t argue that some songs on the Grammy-nominated album pull from her own life. For example, both “mad woman” and “my tears ricochet” seem to give voice to Swift’s falling out with the owner of her former record label, Scott Borchetta. “peace”, on the other hand, seems to explore the fears that Swift has about her relationship with Alwyn.

The ‘august’ singer’s newest album is different from her previous ones

Other songs on “folklore”, however, seem to have very little to do with Swift. If anything, she is simply the narrator, giving life to someone else’s tale. “this is me trying”, for example, features Swift’s accounts of someone who is struggling with addiction, while “august” tells the story of first love from the “other woman’s” perspective. So what was it like for Swift to tell stories that had little to nothing to do with her personally?

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Swift got candid about the way she approached writing folklore. The artist shared that she was very inspired by the artwork of others, films in particular. She was curious about what it would be like to create intertwining storylines (like she did with “august”, “cardigan”, and “betty”) without the pressure of having to pull from her own life. The result was an album that felt very freeing for her to create.

Swift reveals what it was like to write songs that weren’t about her own life

“There is something a little heavy about knowing when you put out an album, people are going to take it so literally that everything you say could be clickbait,” Swift shared. “It was really, really freeing to be able to just be inspired by worlds created by the films you watch or books you’ve read or places you’ve dreamed of or people that you’ve wondered about, not just being inspired by your own experience.”

We can certainly understand how folklore may have given Swift a feeling of creative freedom. We personally hope she continues this trend of writing songs that aren’t just inspired by her own experiences, but of others as well.