Taylor Swift Reveals the Empowering Story Behind the Folklore Lyric That Makes Her 'Really Proud'
Taylor Swift is lifting the veil on her record-smashing album, folklore.
In the latest issue of PEOPLE, the superstar, 31, opens up about the inspiration behind one of her favorite lyrics on her eighth studio album, which was entirely written and recorded remotely in quarantine last year.
"I'm really proud of 'She had a marvelous time ruining everything' from 'The Last Great American Dynasty' because it's about what happens when women step out of their cages and run," says Swift, who is nominated for six Grammys this month.
"It can be a real pearl-clutching moment for society when a woman owns her desires and wildness," continues Swift, "and I love the idea that the woman in question would be too joyful in her freedom to even care that she's ruffling feathers, raising eyebrows or becoming the talk of the town. The idea that she decided there were marvelous times to be had, and that was more important."
On the track — which was inspired by Rebekah Harkness, the previous owner of Swift's Rhode Island home — the Grammy winner reflects on the philanthropist's colorful life and marriage to Standard Oil heir William Harkness, which was the gossip of the town.
"There goes the last great American dynasty / Who knows, if she never showed up, what could've been / There goes the maddest woman this town has ever seen / She had a marvelous time ruining everything," sings Swift on the track.
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The fan-favorite song has also been embraced by critics for Swift's signature wordplay and the parallels the pop star drew to her own life. "Fifty years is a long time/ Holiday House sat quietly on that beach/ Free of women with madness/ Their men and bad habits, and then it was bought by me," sings Swift in the song's twist ending.
Over the last several years, the superstar has been increasingly outspoken about sexism she and other female artists have faced in the industry.
"I'm trying to be as educated as possible on how to respect people, on how to de-program the misogyny in my own brain. Toss it out, reject it, and resist it," said Swift in her critically acclaimed Netflix documentary, Miss Americana. "Like, there is no such thing as a slut. There is no such thing as a bitch. There is no such thing as someone who's bossy, there's just a boss."
Looking back at the two albums she created during the pandemic (the star shocked fans by dropping folklore's sister record, evermore, in December), Swift says she's learned how much can be accomplished even without fanfare.
"I think one of the revelations from this time that I'll take with me moving forward is that oftentimes less is more. An album photo shoot can really be as simple as walking out into a field with one photographer at your friends' farm and you can do your own hair and makeup for it," she says.
"You can write songs without traveling or being in the same space as another collaborator. You can tell your fans about what you made without going on an international promo tour," she adds. "These things are options I didn't explore before and I'm glad that I know they exist now."
As she considers post-pandemic projects, Swift says she's more determined than ever to take matters into her own hands.
"I feel proud of the DIY elements of these albums and in the future I will always explore that option before adding any other layers to a project," she says. "If I can do it myself, I will."
For more interviews with 2021's Grammy nominees, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
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