Art imitating life? Taylor Swift has a knack for writing about the ups and downs of falling in love — and with exes like Joe Jonas, John Mayer, Harry Styles, Tom Hiddleston and Calvin Harris, she has no shortage of inspiration.
The performer previously admitted that she received a range of responses from her ex-boyfriends about her music. While discussing the 2012 song “All Too Well,” which is based on her short-lived romance with Jake Gyllenhaal, Swift revealed that she spoke with her former flame about the breakup track.
“He was like, ‘I just listened to the album, and that was a really bittersweet experience for me. It was like going through a photo album.’ That was nice,” she recalled to New York magazine in 2013. “Nicer than, like, the ranting, crazy e-mails I got from this one dude. It’s a lot more mature way of looking at a love that was wonderful until it was terrible, and both people got hurt from it — but one of those people happened to be a songwriter. So what are you going to do? Did you not Wikipedia me before you called me up [for a date]?”
During her Reputation concert special, which dropped on Netflix in 2018, the Pennsylvania native noted that her writing process is “usually me just trying to get past something and understand something I’m going through by writing about it.” At the time, Swift also reflected on how her relationship with “All Too Well” has changed since its debut years prior.
“There’s the life of this song, where this song was born out of catharsis and venting and trying to get over something and trying to understand it and process it. Then there’s the life where it went out to the world and you turned it into something completely different for me,” she said to fans at the time. “You turned this song into a collage of memories of watching you scream the words to this song or seeing pictures that you post to me of you having written the words of the song in your diary or you showing me your wrist and you have a tattoo of the lyrics to this song underneath your skin and that is how you changed the song ‘All Too Well’ [for] me.”
Not all her hits are breakup anthems, however. After sparking her romance with Joe Alwyn in 2017, the songwriter found herself connecting with the actor on a musical level.
“Joe and I really love sad songs. We’ve always bonded over music. … We write the saddest. We just really love sad songs. What can I say?” Swift told Zane Lowe on his Apple Music show in December 2020 after the couple collaborated on her Folklore album. “And I say it was a surprise that we started writing together, but in a way, it wasn’t because we have always bonded over music and had the same musical tastes. And he’s always the person who’s showing me songs by artists and then they become my favorite songs.”
Scroll down to find out which celebrities Taylor Swift is singing about in hit songs like “Bad Blood,” “Dear John,” “Red” and “Look What You Made Me Do”: