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Who Is Clara Bow? The Inspiration Behind Taylor Swift’s Song



Who Is Clara Bow? The Inspiration Behind Taylor Swift's Song

When it was introduced, in early February, that one of many songs on Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Division can be referred to as “Clara Bow,” leisure writers and Swift followers sprang to motion with the alacrity of roaring-twenties reporters leaping to their typewriters. The best assumption to make was that Bow, one of many largest film stars of the Nineteen Twenties, had impressed Swift as a result of she too was a radically unbiased and bold girl, in addition to a vastly profitable star whose non-public life had acquired undue scrutiny. It wasn’t unthinkable that “Clara Bow” is perhaps a story music about Bow’s life. Swift has written songs about well-known individuals earlier than: “Starlight,” off Pink, was impressed by the romance between Ethel and Bobby Kennedy (Swift was relationship Conor Kennedy, the couple’s grandson, on the time she wrote it), and “The Final Nice American Dynasty,” off Folklore, explores the legend of madcap socialite and patron of the humanities Rebekah Harkness, the earlier proprietor of Vacation Home, the Rhode Island mansion-by-the-sea Swift purchased for herself in 2013.

“Clara Bow,” it seems, isn’t about Clara Bow the individual in any respect, although it may very well be stated to be about Clara Bow the vibe. Is it attainable to be lovely and charismatic to the purpose of possessing a type of cosmic energy that attracts success to you? And whereas that’s nice, to some extent, what occurs subsequent? The music opens with the traces “You appear to be Clara Bow on this mild, outstanding/ All of your life, do you know you’d be picked like a rose?” Swift sings the phrases with a type of tiptoeing confidence, as if she had been discovering her strategy to an concept, a risk—the potential for a grand, superb life, one thing deeply yearned for however simply out of attain. And she or he’s taking a look at another person—or maybe she’s exterior herself, taking a look at a self she was, or might need been, or has already change into, the best way little children (and perhaps some adults) think about God as a man who sits on a cloud all day observing his creations. Her phrasing is bell-like in its readability; the melody has a halting naivete, like a nursery rhyme. If Swift doesn’t precisely know the place she’s going along with her concept, you might be certain she’ll have it discovered by the music’s finish.

However Clara Bow the girl and star makes her look solely at the start of “Clara Bow.” The 2 different ladies referenced within the music are Stevie Nicks and Swift herself, and it turns into clear that the music is partly about self-possession and understanding the price of your magnificence, however maybe much more in regards to the price others see in it—and their nearly reflexive want to promote it. And that’s the place the story of Clara Bow is available in.

Learn extra: All of the References in Taylor Swift’s Title Monitor ‘The Tortured Poets Division’

Bow was born in a Brooklyn tenement in 1905, to oldsters who merely didn’t need her. Like plenty of children within the early twentieth century (and even typically as we speak), she sought refuge on the motion pictures. Her want to flee dismal Brooklyn, and particularly her terrifying, mentally ailing mom, Sarah, led her to enter a magnificence contest that had been introduced in her favourite journal, Movement Image. The primary prize: being solid in an precise film. She entered with two low-cost images that didn’t seize her vitality—she’d needed to go to her father to get the cash for them—but via a series of tiny miracles, she gained. The identify of the competitors, so nakedly centered on girlish goals that Taylor Swift actually ought to write a music about it, was the Fame and Fortune Contest.

Clara was on her means—nearly. However not lengthy after her win, she awoke one night time to seek out her mom poised over her with a butcher’s knife, intent on killing her, although Sarah fainted earlier than she was capable of undergo with it. And though the Fame and Fortune Contest wasn’t all it had cracked as much as be, it did get Bow to Hollywood—she had one outfit to put on for the entire cross-country practice journey, and although it was a rumpled mess by the point she’d reached her dream city, she’d befriended nearly everybody on the practice.

A Hollywood studio exec named B.P. Schulberg took an opportunity on her, solely to quickly understand that each the digicam and audiences adored her. Then he exploited her, farming her out to different studios and pocketing gargantuan income, at the same time as audiences—and never solely males—fell deeply in love along with her. The “Clara Bow” traces “You’re the brand new god we’re worshipping, promise to be dazzling/ Magnificence is a beast that roars down on all fours, demanding extra” sum up her trajectory nicely.

Learn extra: On The Tortured Poets Division, Taylor Swift Sends Followers a Message About Their Obsession With Her Relationships

Bow grew to become one of many largest film stars of the Nineteen Twenties, reaching a stratospheric degree of stardom that exceeded her goals with out truly fulfilling them. A real Brooklyn woman, she by no means bought “cultured,” and by no means placed on pretend airs, like different Hollywood transplants from Brooklyn did. She was by no means invited to the appropriate dinner events. She was variety not simply to individuals who may assist her, however to crew members and performers who had been developing behind her. She fell in love ceaselessly, and sometimes with a number of males without delay. She was, for a time, engaged to Hollywood director supreme Victor Fleming; then she fell arduous for shy, strapping, ethereally good-looking Gary Cooper—as a result of, nicely, who wouldn’t? Her private life grew to become gossipy sport for the general public. There have been scandals—principally not of her personal making, however ensuing from the greed of others—that price her a number of small fortunes to scrub up. She made 46 silent movies and 11 speaking footage earlier than basically leaving the enterprise, in 1931, after struggling a breakdown. She died in 1965, at age 60.

That could be greater than the typical Taylor Swift followers wish to learn about Clara Bow. Or, given the blazing brilliance of Bow’s skills, it will not be almost sufficient. For extra, try David Stenn’s very good, deeply sympathetic biography Clara Bow: Runnin’ Wild. And though lots of Bow’s movies have been misplaced, you possibly can nonetheless watch an assortment of them on YouTube, together with the one which gave Bow the “It Woman” nickname, 1927’s It, by which she performs a winsome shopgirl who longs to marry her wealthy boss. Seeing Bow in motion, moderately than simply in footage culled from the web, is the one strategy to perceive how charming she was. She may cry on cue; she would improvise on set, angering administrators till they noticed how nicely her spontaneous selections labored. She may very well be sultry-seductive one minute and girlish as a pink-champagne bubble the following. And she or he had monumental, fluttery, sparkly eyes, like a cartoon dormouse: there’s one thing about her you wish to defend, even, or perhaps particularly, as we speak.

No matter Taylor Swift’s relationship could also be to Clara Bow’s motion pictures, it does seem that she’s seen plenty of the star’s Hollywood portraits. Swift followers, consultants on the deep dive, have uncovered portraits of Swift which can be styled very similar to Bow’s; she’s seen perched in related poses, even, in some circumstances, sporting related capes, furry stoles, or camisole-type tops. And the ensemble Swift wore to the Grammys—a white satin strapless sheath festooned with pearls and an Artwork Deco-stye watch usual right into a choker—so intently resembles one Bow wore in a publicity {photograph} that there’s no means it could’t be a direct reference.

However even when Swift doesn’t know each element about Bow’s unhappy and blazing life, she absolutely has some sense of how an individual can come from seemingly nowhere and out of the blue change into every thing. The closing line of “Clara Bow” tells us as a lot: “You appear to be Taylor Swift on this mild, we’re loving it/ You’ve bought edge she by no means did/ The long run’s shiny, dazzling.” Swift is trying into the crystal ball of fame, utilizing what she is aware of to write down the advertising copy for some future star upfront. However first, she glanced again and noticed Clara Bow.

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