This Taylor Swift Song is Not About an Ex

After Taylor Swift’s newest album, Lover, dropped on Aug. 23, 2019, her fans were excitedly reading over lyric after lyric trying to figure out who each track could possibly be about. Swift’s lyrics have been known to contain intimate details about her life, especially her love life. Fans speculated that her song “I Forgot That You Existed” is about her ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris and that her song “The Man” might be related to her relationship with actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Some of the songs from the new album, however, are a bit more abstract. Swift’s song “Death by a Thousand Cuts” is a perfect example of this.

“Death by a Thousand Cuts” wasn’t inspired by an ex-lover or an interrupted speech at the Video Music Awards. It didn’t come from the pages of Swift’s diary. The source of inspiration for one of Swift’s newest songs actually came in the form of a Netflix movie.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift | Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Taylor Swift’s “Death by a Thousand Cuts” was inspired by a Netflix movie

Taylor Swift was inspired by a Netflix original film titled Someone Great. The movie tells the story of a couple that ends their relationship after nine years. “It’s a movie 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,” Swift explained an interview with iHeartRadio’s Elvis Duran, “It’s just sad because it’s just realistic, time passed and now we’re different people and that is the most devastating thing.

As Swift says, the tragedy of the story lies behind the realism of the situation. Neither of the characters is necessarily “the bad guy.” Unlike a lot of breakup-related movies, neither of the characters are to blame for the circumstances. It’s just a lifelike situation where two people grow apart. And this broke Taylor Swift’s heart.

“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,” Swift continued, “I just would wake up and was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m writing a breakup song.’ I’d have these lyrics in my head, based on the dynamics of these characters.”

The Netflix movie was inspired by a Taylor Swift song

In a very “meta” turn of events, the Netflix movie was also inspired by Taylor Swift’s album 1989, specifically the song “Clean.” Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, the writer and director of Someone Great, compared the song and album to “a bottle of tequila and a bear hug” on an Instagram post. In the post, Robinson describes her experience with heartbreak after ending a relationship and leaving her lover behind. Robinson found comfort in Taylor Swift’s album and a way to heal.

“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 f**k is even happening, full circle situation I find myself with a new song that will help me through heartbreak,” said Robinson.

In an incredible cycle of life imitating art and vice versa, two female artists found a way to inspire each other and create something beautiful out of the sheer, raw heartbreak they have both experienced.