Who was Clara Bow? The original ‘it girl’ who inspired Taylor Swift’s new song

Taylor Swift’s latest album has been out for less than a day – but fans and critics alike are already deep into decoding the meaning of her somewhat cryptic lyrics.

The pop icon’s mammoth project, The Tortured Poets Department, ended up being a secret double album, with the first part ending on a track simply titled Clara Bow.

Unless you’re something of a Hollywood history buff, the reference may have been lost on you.

So here’s what you need to know about Bow and more on how Swift referenced her and the possible reasons why.

The original ‘it girl’

American actress Clara Bow was one of the most successful film stars of the silent era and became the original “it girl” after starring in the 1927 hit film, It.

Image: Pic: AP

And although her profession doesn’t match Swift’s, there are clear parallels when it comes to the trajectory of her career and some of the attention that followed.

Born in 1905, Bow became accustomed to extraordinary fame as a young woman and as a consequence, her romantic life was thrust into the public eye.

Read more:
Breaking down The Tortured Poets Department
The hidden meanings and the people Swift appears to reference

She was regularly linked to a number of high-profile men and was often a source of gossip and speculation for the public.

Perhaps this, along with the actress having a difficult time adjusting to being considered a sex symbol, are where the similarities end.

Clara Bow with Harry Richman on Jan. 24, 1930 whom she now definitely states she is to marry. (AP Photo)
Image: Clara Bow with Harry Richman. Pic: AP

It was rumoured Bow’s career plummeted because her harsh Brooklyn accent wasn’t desirable for talking films.

However, Swift has been dominating her field since she was a teenager, and the now 34-year-old’s career shows no signs of stagnating whatsoever.

Bow, according to reports from the 1940s, later attempted to take her own life and was sent to an asylum.

The actress died after having a heart attack at the age of 60 in 1965, according to The New York Times.

What could the song mean?

It starts with the following verse:

You look like Clara Bow in this light… remarkable

All your life, did you know

You’d be picked like a rose?

And the song ends with a similar verse, only this time, Bow’s name is replaced by her own:

You look like Taylor Swift in this light

We’re loving it

You’ve got edge she never did

The future’s bright… dazzling.

Pic: Beth Garrabrant
Image: Pic: Beth Garrabrant

All songs, of course, are down to interpretation. But it’s certainly interesting to see Swift take the name of the “it girl” of almost 100 years ago and, by the end of the song, replace it with her own.

Bow’s industry eventually forced her to pass the mantle on, and it seems Swift is under no illusions that, at some stage (though it seems rather far off), she’ll be forced to do the same – and her successor may even have “the edge she never did”.

Our arts and entertainment reporter Bethany Minelle gives us her take on Swift’s lyrics:

“She gives us a self-referring dig which touches on both the fickleness of the music industry and pokes fun at her own ever-inflating success.

“We hear a young wannabe praised by ‘suits in LA,’ telling her: ‘You look like Taylor Swift in this light, we’re loving it. You’ve got edge she never did.’

“Always looking ahead, to her next era, perhaps when her ‘girlish glow flickers’, a now 30-something Swift is always one step ahead of the industry she’s currently dominating.

“As she tells us: ‘The future’s bright… Dazzling’.”

Source : Sky News