Like many of us, Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney have had a lot of time on their hands during the pandemic. The two musicians, however, have channelled that energy into something more significant than doing puzzles and making sourdough bread.
McCartney and Swift talked about their songwriting processes in creating solo releases ‘McCartney III’ and ‘Folklore’ in a new Rolling Stone interview for its latest Musicians on Musicians issue.
The former Beatle noted that while he was writing the lyrics for ‘McCartney III,’ made during the pandemic and due out December 11, he was reading a book about Venus and the constellations, which led to the song ‘The Kiss of Venus.’
“I was actually just taking phrases out of the book, harmonic sounds. And the book is talking about the maths of the universe, and how when things orbit around each other, and if you trace all the patterns, it becomes like a lotus flower,” he said.
He talked about almost knowing a song before it’s been written and just “trying to remember the lyrics” along the way.
Swift declared that process magical.
“I definitely relate to needing to find magical things in this very not-magical time, needing to read more books and learn to sew, and watch movies that take place hundreds of years ago,” Swift said. “In a time where, if you look at the news, you just want to have a panic attack — I really relate to the idea that you are thinking about stars and constellations.”
The 30-year-old took the opportunity to use “bigger, flowerier, prettier words” in her lyrics without fear of those words not tracking on pop radio.
“If there’s chaos everywhere, why don’t I just use the damn word I want to use in the song?” she posited.
So, some incidental things Swift loves, according to the interview: numerology, pseudonyms and the words “elegies,” “epiphany” and “divorcee.” And she also loves the way McCartney is living his pandemic life — surrounded by his daughters and a son-in-law and grandchildren who get to hear his musical noodlings in progress as a sort of ritual while the household prepares meals.
“That’s the cosiest thing I’ve ever heard,” she said. And the ‘Cardigan’ songstress does know cosy, people.
By the way, music isn’t the only thing Swift has going in quarantine. In addition to releasing ‘Folklore’ in July, Swift has been crafting things for a slew of pregnant friends. She’s sewn handmade stuffed animals like flying squirrels and teddy bears and has embroidered silk baby blankets.
“It’s gotten pretty fancy,” she said.
McCartney also confessed to having an OK time while hunkering down, while still understanding that people are suffering.
“I would say to people, ‘I feel a bit guilty about saying I’m actually enjoying this quarantine thing,’” he said, “and people go, ‘Yeah, I know, don’t say it to anyone.’”
Still, amid those flashes of guilt, McCartney said all people need somewhere to go right now, mentally.
“I think you’ve got to have dreams, particularly this year. You’ve got to have something to escape to,” he said. “When you say ‘escapism,’ it sounds like a dirty word, but this year, it definitely wasn’t.”