It wasn't entirely shocking when, on the tracklist for Taylor Swift's upcoming album The Department of Tortured Poets, fans spotted the name of silent film actress Clara Bow. After all, Taylor Swift loves old Hollywood; it's the aesthetic of the “Wildest Dreams” music video, and it references Liz Taylor and Richard Burton in the lyrics of “…Ready For It?”
But why Clara Bow, specifically? Here are some possible connections between what's happening with Swift and the late star's career.
From silence to speech
Swift opened up about how, during her relationship with Joe Alwyn, she was much quieter and private than she had been before or since the breakup. In fact, his next 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 who you ask.) But further 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 1920s and, unlike many of his contemporaries, successfully transitioned to a career in alkies in the '30s. So maybe the album is about Taylor finding his voice again after having abandoned it for a while.
The It girl
Clara Bow is known historically for being the first It girl, embodying a phrase that now generally refers to a young woman with a lot of buzz. Bow starred in the 1927 film He (nothing to do with clowns) about a saleswoman who attacks a rich, elderly man. The film made her a star (as did Wingsin which she starred, and which was also released in 1927), and as she was the girl in the film He, the first It girl was born (“it” as in “she has it”, an indefinable quality of attractiveness, was already invented, but she was the first It girl, more precisely). Swift is actually past the level of It girl, but she can definitely relate to being a woman that everyone is talking about.
The peak of fame
Very few people in the course of modern fame have become as famous as Swift. Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Beyoncé… Princess Diana? Clara Bow was one of the first women to become so famous in America, although her name is not as well known today as those of some others. his peers at the time, like Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin. Maybe Swift is wondering if her star will fade like Bow's (actually, Bow left the business to become a breeder, but I don't see Tay doing that).
Taylor wants to make movies
If you've visited their website recently, you'll notice that the menu includes a tab called “Directed Projects.” She is I'm going to make a film for Searchlight sometime after the Eras Tour ended. So I think she just had Hollywood in mind!
Obviously, we'll know more once we have the lyrics and ideally a music video in which Taylor Swift plays Bow. A girl can dream!