It wasn’t totally shocking when, on the track list for her upcoming album The Tortured Poets Department, fans spotted the name of silent film actor Clara Bow. After all, Taylor Swift loves Old Hollywood; it’s the aesthetic of the “Wildest Dreams” music video, and she references Liz Taylor and Richard Burton in the lyrics to “…Ready For It?”
But why Clara Bow, specifically? Here are a few possible connections between what’s been going on with Swift and the late star’s career…
From silence to speaking
Swift has spoken about how, during her relationship with Joe Alwyn, she was much more silent and private than she had been previously or has been since the breakup. In fact, her upcoming song “But Daddy, I Love Him” is a line from The Little Mermaid, which, as some fans have pointed out, is about a girl who gives up her voice to be with her true love: from sound to silence. (Or it’s about Harry Styles, depending on whom you ask.) But farther down the track list is “Clara Bow,” someone who went from silence to sound. Bow was a star of the Silent Film Era in the ‘20s, and unlike many of her contemporaries, successfully transitioned into a career in the “talkies” in the ’30s. So maybe the album is about Taylor regaining her voice after giving it up for a period.
Clara Bow is known historically for being the first “It Girl,” a phrase that now generally means a young woman with a lot of buzz. Bow starred in the 1927 movie It (nothing to do with clowns) about a shopgirl who goes after a wealthy older man. The movie made her a star (as did Wings, which she starred in, and which also came out in 1927), and since she was the girl from the movie It, the first It Girl was born (“it” as in “he’s got it” was already coined, but she was the first It Girl, specifically). Swift has actually surpassed the level of It Girl, but she can definitely relate to being a woman everyone’s talking about.
The apex of stardom
Very few people over the course of modern celebrity have become as famous as Swift. Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Beyoncé…Princess Diana? Clara Bow was one of the first women to get that famous in America, though her name isn’t well-known now as some of her peers from back in the day, like Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin. Perhaps Swift wonders if her star will fade like Bow’s (actually, Bow left the business to become a rancher, but I don’ see Tay doing that).
Taylor wants to make movies
If you’ve been to her website lately, you’ll notice that the menu includes a tab for “Directed Projects.” She’s going to make a movie for Searchlight sometime after The Eras Tour wraps. So I think she’s just had Hollywood on the mind!
Obviously, we’ll know more once we get the lyrics and ideally a music video in which Taylor Swift plays Bow. A girl can dream!