What Taylor Swift Has In Common With Rebekah Harkness

Taylor Swift is known for drawing inspiration from her real-life relationships, but the singer-songwriter took a different tactic when it came to her 2020 album, Folklore. While most of America was feverishly baking amid quarantine, Swift was busy putting lyrics to music. "It started with imagery... visuals that popped into my mind and piqued my curiosity," the star explained in a Twitter post on July 24, 2020. As the images turned into characters, Swift found herself "not only writing my own stories, but also writing about or from the perspective of people I've never met, people I've known, or those I wish I hadn't."

One of the real-life people whose story inspired Swift was Rebekah Harkness. According to E! Online, Harkness was a divorcée with a scandalous past who previously owned the singer's house in Watch Hill, R.I. In fact, Harkness inspired Swift so much that the popstar wrote an entire song about her. Titled "The Last Great American Dynasty," Swift's third song on the album chronicles the Gatsby-esque life and times of Harkness, subtly laying out the similarities between both women. As it turns out, there are quite a lot of them, including some that you might not expect!

Taylor Swift and Rebekah Harkness had a girl squad

According to Tatler, Rebekah Harkness formed a group of like-minded debutantes, all with wild streaks similar to hers. Dubbed the "B***h Pack," these women (with Harkness at the helm) "enjoyed disrupting social events, including lacing punch with mineral oil, or performing a strip tease at dinner."

Sound familiar? While Taylor Swift is not destructive to that extent, the singer is known for her famous friends, many of whom are commonly referred to as members of her "squad." From casting besties like Karlie Kloss and Gigi Hadid in her "Bad Blood" music video, to bringing her girl gang onstage during her 1989 tour, Swift has made many of her close connections public. 

And who could forget her epic Independence Day bashes? From 2013 to 2016, she hosted Hollywood's elite at her home in Watch Hill, R.I., which was nicknamed "Holiday House" in Harkness' heyday. Naturally, Swift's extravagant celebrations came complete with matching American flag onesies, volleyball, sparklers and an inflatable slide (via Cosmopolitan). Similarly, Harkness also loved holding big blowouts, speaking of which...

Taylor Swift and Rebekah Harkness were the subject of tabloid fodder

Taylor Swift and Rebekah Harkness may have been born decades apart, but it seems they shared a talent for dominating the headlines. In 1956, Harkness burst onto the high society scene after marrying her second husband, Standard Oil heir William Hale Harkness (via Vogue). Following the wedding, the couple's home became the site of a series of over-the-top parties; the socialite once filled her pool with Dom Perignon and even put scotch in her fish tank (per Vogue). 

Swift alludes to Harkness' overblown antics in "The Last Great American Dynasty" with lyrics like, "Filled the pool with champagne and swam with the big names / And blew through the money on the boys and the ballet / and losing on card game bets with Dali." Based on all this, it is safe to say that the media of the day had their hands full with Harkness!

Swift may not share Harkness' fondness for dumping expensive alcohol in her swimming pools, but she has proved equally adept at garnering the media's eye. Whether she is dating someone new, dropping surprise albums during the pandemic or sweeping at the Grammys, Swift is always capturing our attention.

Taylor Swift views both herself and Rebekah Harkness as 'mad women'

In a Twitter post announcing the Folklore album drop, Taylor Swift described Harkness as "a misfit widow getting gleeful revenge on the town that cast her out." As Swift poetically puts it in her song, "she [Rebekah Harkness] had a marvelous time ruining everything." Therefore, it might not be a stretch to call her a "mad woman," especially because the word "madness" is used elsewhere in the song. "Holiday House sat quietly on that beach / Free of women with madness, their men and bad habits," Swift sings on the bridge.

Madness is another theme Swift explores throughout Folklore, particularly in the twelfth song on the album, "Mad Woman." After its release, fans jumped to decode the lyrics, and many speculate that it is either about Swift's infamous feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West or how she has been driven "mad" by powerful men like Scooter Braun in the music industry.

Swift may have started her career as an eager-to-please, squeaky-clean country singer, but now, like Harkness, she does what suits her. And if people view her as "mad" for doing so, so be it! This becomes clear at the end of the song, when Swift abruptly shifts to first person, making it clear she does not care how others see her. "I had a marvelous time ruining everything," she croons. The clever songwriting ensures we will not forget Swift or Harkness anytime soon!