Taylor Swift explains why she wrote song about rumoured bisexual actress Clara Bow

Image shows a black and white portrait of Clara Bow on the left, holding a makeup case, and a close up shot of Taylor Swift in colour on the right.

Taylor Swift has explained why she wanted to write a song about Clara Bow, the Roaring Twenties actress and sex symbol who was rumoured to be bisexual.

Ever since the music superstar announced The Tortured Poets Department at the Grammy Awards in February, fans have questioned why she wrote a song entitled “Clara Bow” – the actress who retired from fame little more than 10 years after appearing in her first film, Beyond The Rainbow, in 1922.

Dubbed America’s first “It girl”, Bow was seen as a Hollywood sex symbol who led a life of wild parties and fan adoration – she reportedly received as many as 45,000 fan letters a month. She was one of the few to make the successful transition from silent films to the “talkies”.

Although she eventually settled down with husband, cowboy star Rex Bell, in 1931 and had two children, Bow was largely rumoured to have slept with both men and women beforehand, with some believing she had a fling with lesbian director Dorothy Arzner, who directed Bow in the 1929 silent film The Wild Party.

Clara Bow, in a black and white glamour close up shot
Clara Bow was one of the most famous stars early in what’s often called Hollywood’s Golden Age. (Wikipedia/Creative Commons)

Swift has now revealed why Bow, who died of a heart attack in 1965, came to mind when she was writing songs for the new album – and it’s got nothing to do with Bow’s alleged sexuality.

The track is “a commentary on what I’ve seen in the industry that I’ve been in over time,” she told Amazon Music.

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“I used to sit in record labels trying to get a deal when I was a little kid. And they’d say: ‘You know, you remind us of…’ then they’d name an artist, and say something disparaging about her, [adding]: ‘But you’re so much better in this way or that way’.”

In the song, Swift sings: “You look like Clara Bow in this light, remarkable. All your life, did you know you’d be picked like a rose?”

Taylor Swift looks towards the camera while wearing a green dress and long silver dangling earrings
Taylor Swift. (Getty)

In the second verse, she continues: “You look like Stevie Nicks in ’75, the hair and lips. Crowd goes wild at her fingertips, half moonshine, a full eclipse.”

Swift went on to say: “That’s how we teach women to see themselves, like you could be the new replacement for this woman who’s done something great before you.

“I picked women who have done great things in the past and have been these archetypes of greatness in the entertainment industry. Clara Bow was the first ‘It girl.’ Stevie Nicks is an icon and an incredible example for anyone who wants to write songs and make music.”

The Tortured Poets Department, which also features a song that seemingly name-checks queer boygenius singer Lucy Dacus, broke global Spotify streaming records upon its release on Friday (19 April).

It became the first album to surpass 200 million streams in a single day, beating the record previously held by Swift’s 2022 album, Midnights.

If the record secures the UK number one in the charts on Friday (26 April), Swift will draw level with Madonna for the most number one albums – 12 – by a female artist.