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A Song Analysis: Clara Bow

A Deep Dive into one of Taylor Swift’s newest songs
Photos Courtesy of Wikipedia & Rolling Stone. Collage Assembled by Bailey Sobral (9).

With the release of THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT, Swifties have taken it upon themselves to create an analysis of what they think is the meaning behind every line. Personally, I found Clara Bow to be a pretty easy song to analyze. Clara Bow is performed by Taylor Swift, with writing credits from Aaron Dessner and Taylor Swift. It was produced by Aaron Dessner and Taylor Swift with sources from Taylor Swift, Sony Music Publishing, and Universal Music Publishing.  Taylor references many celebrities and alludes to multiple of her ex boyfriends in the way I have analyzed it. A quick disclaimer: none of this has been confirmed and these are just combined fan theories with a twist I added to make the dots connect.

The line which opens this song “You look like Clara Bow in this light. Remarkable.” Clara Bow was a Public Figure who after she got married, was forced to quit acting after getting married. In the last few years, it was rumored Joe Alwyn, Taylor Swift’s now ex boyfriend, told her she could either have her career or have him as her husband. The lines “All your life, did you know you’d be picked like a rose” are seeming to lead to when Joe and Taylor first started dating back in 2016, he sought her out. Or in other words, picked her like a rose. Something to note is that, this whole song, excluding the bridge, is in quotes and usually when Swift uses quotes in her songs it means it was actually said to her. 

Swift grew up on a Christmas Tree Farm in a small town in Pennsylvania. A few lines later Swift quotes, “No one in my small town thought I’d see the lights of Manhattan” which could be interpreted as her friends and community never thought this little small town girl named Taylor Alison Swift would be shown on billboards and having one of the most successful music careers to this day. 

“This town is fake but you’re the real thing. Breath of fresh air through smoke rings. Take the glory, give everything. Promise to be dazzling.” This is the beginning of the chorus of this song, which is repeated throughout the song. I think this is something she was told before entering the industry by the producers at Big Machine Records telling her to stay true to herself and she is what the music industry needed.​ In other words: the big cities are all just fake but you are real, you are in private who you are out in public. You will get out what you put in, just please promise to shine. 

The second verse begins with, “You look like Stevie Nicks In ‘75, the hair and lips. Crowd goes wild at her fingertips.” Through Swift’s career she has always been compared to Stevie Nicks. I think this is a double meaning lyric. With her rumored ex-boyfriend, Matty Healy, I feel he was pushing her further and further into her career. Swift has created her own pace of when everything is released unlike any other artist.So she started feeling stuck in her career which is discussed in the bridge. 

“The crown is stained but you’re the real queen. Flesh and blood amongst war machines. You’re the new god we’re worshiping. Promise to be … dazzling.” In the second chorus she alters this part. This is in quotes so it is something which has actually been said by someone at some point. I believe this is how the music industry has viewed her in the past and how she has overcome everything the music industry has thrown her way over the past multiple decades. All women in the music industry are constantly put down, which makes it impossible to be in her shoes. After Clara Bow and then Stevie Nicks she compared to them in everything she would do. They were like the “God” everyone was worshiping in the music industry and that burden has been passed to Swift. As a woman in the music industry, she has to stay “dazzling” through all the hardships and everything difficult that comes her way. 

The bridge is the only part not in quotes, meaning these were thoughts and haven’t been said out of someone’s mouth. The bridge quotes, “Beauty is a Beast that roars. Down on all fours. Demanding ‘more’. Only when your girlish glow flickers just so. Do they let you know? It’s h3ll on earth to be heavenly. Them’s the breaks. They don’t come gently.” This part of the song was meant to say that you can’t always be perfect and this is Taylor Swift’s message to the fans that she is perfectly imperfect. Swift constantly adds sections to her songs to thank the fans that have always supported her. I think she used this section to tell the fans how strong they are and how much she has always relied on them to bring her comfort and support over the years. 

The final part is the most memorable, because it is the first time Swift has mentioned “Taylor Swift” in any of her songs. The lyrics are “You look like Taylor Swift in this light. We’re loving it. You’ve got edge, she never did. The future’s bright … Dazzling.” Many Swifties have interpreted that this is the last song she will release because she is passing the “torch” off to the next generation or person in the music industry who will continue the legacy. Swifties have attempted to brainstorm who this section could be aimed towards. With names coming up including Sabrina Carpenter and Olivia Rodrigo, but personally I believe this to be incorrect. 

I believe she wrote this song about all her relationships from Alywn to the current Travis Kelce. I believe the first section being compared to Clara Bow to be about Joe Alywn, who tried to remove her from the industry. The second section is her being compared to Stevie Nicks, because of her explosion of fame, which Matty Healy pushed her into. I believe the last section is about Travis Kelce because she finally feels like she is living her life, instead of one the music industry laid out to her. With THE  TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT, I believe that’s the “edge” they thought she was missing and shes alerting the fans that she isn’t done with her career and the future of being a Swifties or the future of Taylor being herself is going to be “dazzling”.

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