Taylor Swift’s “Beautiful Ghosts” Lyrics Meaning
As detailed in the facts’ section, “Beautiful Ghosts” is actually a song that fits directly into the narrative of the updated film version of the popular musical “Cats”. It is relayed from the perspective of a character named Victoria. And within the movie, this song is preceded by another, “Memory”, sung by a different character named Grizabella. This is important to note because “Beautiful Ghosts” is actually a response to “Memory”.
In “Memory”, Grizabella laments over her present condition as opposed to her illustrious past. And Victoria’s response via “Beautiful Ghosts” is a sentiment along the lines of feeling Grizabella should be thankful that she even has such a past to reminisce on. In other words, the “beautiful ghosts” are actually a metaphor for Grizabella’s wonderful past.
In contrast, Victoria (i.e. Taylor Swift) points out that she was “born into nothing”. And she tells Grizabella that “at least you have something to cling to”, as in the aforementioned wonderful memories. Or more to the point, Victoria’s past has been marked by hardship. In fact the overall implication is that she was cast onto the “London streets”, by herself and afraid, at a very young age.
A song of lamentation?
Despite the above, we refuse to interpret this track as a song of lamentation. And why? Because unlike Grizabella, the singer herself seems to be relishing her present life. She still appears to be living on the streets, and accordingly the lyrics read as if there is a prevalent sense of disorder in her life. But surviving in such a manner with likewise individuals has helped the singer to ‘tame’ her inner fear. And she has actually come to relish her “wild” and “free” lifestyle.
But that being said she still envies, if you will, Grizabella for ‘at least having beautiful ghosts’. Or the singer too wishes that her past, which was marked by hardship, had been more favorable.
A Song for “Cats”
“Beautiful Ghosts” is a song written specifically for the upcoming musical film, “Cats” (2019).
In that movie, Taylor Swift actually portrays a character named Bombalurina. However, “Beautiful Ghosts” is not relayed from the perspective of that individual. Rather it is centered on the viewpoint of another character called Victoria who in the film is portrayed by ballet dancer Francesca Hayward. So whereas it is indeed Swift who sings this song, in the movie it is logically Hayward who performs it.
It was Andrew Lloyd Webber, the writer of the stage musical “Cats” (1981) which the movie is based on, who felt that the film needed a fresh song relayed from Victoria’s point of view. Thus he ended up recruiting Tay Tay to help him in this endeavor. At the end of the day, he was pleased with the output. In fact he had stated that upon hearing the music he composed, Taylor was able to pen the lyrics in a surprisingly-expeditious fashion.
Lyrics of “Beautiful Ghosts”
And in terms of the lyrics, Swift used an old poetry collection entitled “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” for her inspiration. That book was written by renowned 20th century poet T. S. Eliot way back in 1939. And it is actually the piece of literature which Webber’s “Cats” itself is based on.
Official Writing and Production Credits
“Beautiful Ghosts” was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Taylor Swift. And the track was produced by Nile Rodgers in partnership with Greg Wells.
Release Date of “Beautiful Ghosts”
“Beautiful Ghosts” was released on the 15th of November 2019. It is one of the songs featured on the “Cats (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)”.