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Taylor Swift Says ‘Clara Bow’ is a Commentary on How Women are Taught to ‘Replace’ Each Other

Taylor Swift Shares the Meaning Behind Clara Bow Song From TTPD
Taylor Swift. Taylor Hill/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

Taylor Swift is not the new Clara Bow or Stevie Nicks — nor does she ever want to be.

Following the release of Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department on Friday, April 19, Amazon Music rolled out a new track-by-track experience with Swift, 34, offering insights into some of the songs on her 11th studio album. For fans to hear Swift’s insight into the new music, they merely need to say to their Alexa device, “I’m a member of The Tortured Poets Department.”

This feature has Swift open up about the creation of “Clara Bow,” the song that closes out the double album’s first half. Named after the famous actress who rose to fame in the silent film era before successfully transitioning to “talkies,” Swift wrote the song as “a commentary on what I’ve seen in the industry that I’ve been in over time.”

“I used to sit in record labels trying to get a record deal when I was a little kid,” she says. “And they’d say, ‘You know, you remind us of’ and then they’d name an artist, and then they’d kind of say something disparaging about her, ‘But you’re this, you’re so much better in this way or that way.’ And that’s how we teach women to see themselves, as like, ‘You could be the new replacement for this woman who’s done something great before you.’”

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“I picked women who have done great things in the past and have been these archetypes of greatness in the entertainment industry,” Swift continues. “Clara Bow was the first ‘it girl.’ Stevie Nicks is an icon and an incredible example for anyone who wants to write songs and make music.”

Bow died in 1965 at the age of 60. Before TTPD’s release, her great-granddaughter Brittany Grace Bell told TMZ that Clara would be thrilled that Swift introduced her to a new generation of fans. Bell also said that while Swift didn’t reach out to her family to preview the song, they’re happy for Swift to shed light on Bow’s legacy.

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Elsewhere in the Amazon Music commentary on TTPD, Swift reveals that “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me” came from a moment when she felt “bitter” about “the things we do to our artists as a society and as a culture.”

Taylor Swift Shares the Meaning Behind Clara Bow Song From TTPD
Clara Bow. John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

Swift says that society takes its writers, artists and creatives and puts them “through hell.”

“We watch what they create, then we judge it,” she explains. “We love to watch artists in pain, often to the point where I think sometimes as a society, we provoke that pain and we just watch what happens.”

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The Tortured Poets Department became Spotify’s most-streamed album in a single day, topping the previous record-holder, Swift’s 2022 album, Midnights. TTPD generated over 300 million streams. The album also sold 1.4 million copies in traditional album sales in the U.S., per Billboard. The album’s first single, “Fortnight,” featuring Post Malone, racked up 18.4 million streams and will likely debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. If so, it would give Swift 12 chart-topping songs, tying her with The Supremes and Madonna.

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