The old, non-political Taylor Swift can’t come to the phone right now – because she’s out registering people to vote. In conjunction with her new Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, Taylor, 30, released a political song for Swifties everywhere, “Only The Young.” The song, released on Jan. 31, is an upbeat anthem that is meant to inspire young people to vote. Taylor was inspired to write the track after Marsha Blackburn, a Republican candidate, won the Senate seat for the singer’s home state, Tennessee, during the 2018 midterm elections.
Once famously silent when it came to politics, Taylor shed her nonpolitical stance in 2018 when she endorsed two Tennessee Democrats — U.S. Senate candidate and former Governor Phil Bredesen as well as US House of Representatives candidate Jim Cooper. She urged Tennesseans to vote against Republican Marsha Blackburn, an eight-term Congress member, who built her campaign around beliefs that Taylor refused to stand for.
Both Cooper and Bredesen failed in their campaigns, and Miss Americana captures Taylor’s midterm disappointment. In the doc, she’s seen writing an anthem for millennials disillusioned with the political process. “You did all that you could do / The game was rigged, the ref got tricked/ The wrong ones think they’re right / We were outnumbered — this time,” Taylor sings in “Only The Young.” She even seems to directly call out Donald Trump on the track, by singing, “The big bad man, his big bad clan, their hands stained with red.”
“One thing I think is amazing about her,” says Miss Americana director Lana Wilson (per Variety), “is that she goes to the studio and to songwriting as a place to process what she’s going through. I loved how, when she got the Grammy news (about Reputation), this isn’t someone who’s going to feel sorry for herself or say ‘That wasn’t right.’ She’s like, ‘Okay, I’m going to work even harder.’ You see her strength of character in that moment when she gets that news. And then with the election results, I loved how she channeled so many of her thoughts and feelings into ‘Only the Young.’ It was a great way to kind of show how stuff that happens in her life goes directly into the songs; you get to witness that in both cases.”
“When I started filming [Miss Americana], it was before she’d come out politically,” Lana told Variety. “She knew that she was coming out of a very dark period and wanted to collaborate on something that captured what she was going through and that was really raw and honest and emotionally intimate. [Becoming political] was a profound decision for her to make. In that, I saw this feminist coming of age story that I personally connected with, and that I really think women and girls around the world will see themselves in.”
Taylor’s political side also appeared in “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince,” the song from Lover from whence the film gets its name. The song, according to Variety, is a metaphor for Taylor growing up as an unblinking patriot and had to “reluctantly leave behind her naiveté in the age of [Donald] Trump.”