Behind the Meaning of Taylor Swift’s ‘Mad Men’-Inspired Track “Lavender Haze”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

I’ve been under scrutiny / You handle it beautifully / All this shit is new to me / I find it dizzying / They’re bringing up my history / But you weren’t even listening, sings Taylor Swift on Midnights track “Lavender Haze.”

Throughout the song, Swift details the connection and support of a lover and finds a more euphoric space amid the rumors and outside noise. Swift continues, I feel the lavender haze creepin’ up on me / Surreal / I’m damned if I do give a damn what people say / No deal / The 1950s shit they want from me / I just wanna stay in that lavender haze.

Mad Men Meaning

Before the release of her 10th album, Midnights, on Oct. 21, Swift shared the meaning of the song on Instagram and revealed that it was written about her boyfriend of six years, Joe Alwyn, and their experiences as a couple in the spotlight. She also said that the title was pulled from an episode of Mad Men.

“I happened upon the phrase ‘lavender haze’ when I was watching Mad Men,” shared Swift. “I looked it up because I thought it sounded cool and it turns out that it’s a common phrase used in the ’50s where they would just describe being in love.”

Swift added, ”If you were in the lavender haze, then that meant that you were in that all-encompassing love glow and I thought that was really beautiful.”

Stuck in a ‘Lavender Haze

Elaborating on how the term lavender haze fits into her song, Swift said, “I guess theoretically when you’re in the lavender haze, you’ll do anything to stay there and not let people bring you down off of that cloud. I think a lot of people have to deal with this now … because we live in the era of social media and if the world finds out you’re in love with somebody, they’re gonna weigh in on it.”

Swift continued that the song was also about the challenges she and Alwyn have faced in their relationship over the past six years. She says the pair have chosen to ignore talk regarding her past relationships.

“Like my relationship for six years, we’ve had to dodge weird rumors, tabloid stuff and we just ignore it,” shared Swift. “So this song is about the act of ignoring that stuff to protect the real stuff.”

Joe Alwyn’s Take

In a 2022 interview with GQ, Alwyn said he hopes that the gossip about their relationship becomes boring at some point. “I think because the precedent was set—that our choice is to be private and not feed that side of things—the more you do that, hopefully, the more that intrusiveness or intrigue drops off.”

In a 2019 interview with Mr. Porter, Alwyn elaborated on the privacy of their relationship. “I don’t think more than anyone else,” he said. “I don’t think anyone you meet on the streets would just spill their guts out to you, therefore why should I? And then that is defined as being ‘strangely private.’ Fine. But I don’t think it is. I think it’s normal.”

Alwyn, an English actor, was credited as a songwriter under the pseudonym William Bowery—a moniker pulled from his great-grandfather’s name and his favorite neighborhood in New York—on the tracks “Exile” and “Betty,” off Swift’s 2020 album Folklore. Bowery also was credited on Swift’s “Champagne Problems,” “Coney Island,” and the title track on her second release that year, evermore, as well as the Midnights track “Sweet Nothing.” 

Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

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