Not only did Joe Alwyn recently collaborate with Taylor Swift on multiple songs for folklore and evermore, but she’s now revealing he also played a pivotal role in inspiring her song “Only the Young,” too.
Swift debuted the political track in 2020 for the documentary about her life, Miss Americana, though she wrote the song in 2018 following the U.S. midterm election.
Now that the film is a contender in the 2021 Oscars race, she’s sharing new details about how the British actor (also her boyfriend of four years) encouraged her to speak out about politics and ultimately write the song.
“As a country musician, I was always told it’s better to stay out of [politics],” Swift told Vanity Fair via email on Feb. 17. “The Trump presidency forced me to lean in and educate myself.”
She continued, “I found myself talking about government and the presidency and policy with my boyfriend [Joe Alwyn], who supported me in speaking out. I started talking to my family and friends about politics and learning as much as I could about where I stand.”
The “willow” singer added, “I’m proud to have moved past fear and self-doubt, and to endorse and support leadership that moves us beyond this divisive, heartbreaking moment in time.”
After a career of staying out of politics, the Grammy winner broke her silence in October 2018 to endorse Senate candidate Phil Bredesen and Congressional candidate Jim Cooper in Tennessee.
“I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent,” Swift wrote at the time, adding that she feels “very differently” about keeping quiet on governmental issues going forward.
During the 2020 election, she endorsed President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris by sharing her debate night cookies on Instagram.
In her new interview with Vanity Fair, the 31-year-old pop star elaborated on how finding her voice in 2018 led her to write “Only the Young” when Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn won, despite the singer’s plea to voters.
The lyrics refer to “the big bad man and his big bad clan” and encourage the younger generation to run for office. She sings, “They aren’t gonna change this/ We gotta do it ourselves/ They think that it’s over/ But it’s just begun/ Only one thing can save us/ Only the young.”
Swift explained over email, “Almost the entire process of creating that song, I was fighting back tears because I was so sad about the results of the midterm elections in my state and the losses faced by superb Democratic candidates in states like Georgia and Texas.” (The outlet notes she’s likely referring to Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke.)
“I didn’t want the defeat and hopelessness I felt for our country’s future to get the best of me,” the artist shared. “I didn’t want to weep. I wanted to have hope. Writing ‘Only the Young’ helped me push through that moment in my life and gave me the hope to keep fighting for what I believe is right.”
She went on, “This particular song, and the process of creating it, was a perfect example of how visceral writing a song can be,” adding, “You try to transport yourself back to a time you felt intense emotion and write from that place. Every once in a blue moon, you end up in the studio at the exact moment you’re feeling that raw emotion.”
Basically, Swifties can thank Alwyn for such blessings as “betty” and “evermore,” as well as for encouraging Swift to face her fears and open up about her beliefs.
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