As Swifties patiently wait for Taylor Swift to release the next installment of her Taylor’s Version album re-records, the singer-songwriter is keeping fans satiated with the release of “Carolina,” a new song written for forthcoming movie, Where the Crawdads Sing. The film, out July 15, is an adaption of American author Delia Owens’ 2018 novel of the same name.
Alluding to the film’s backwoods setting, the track evokes the elegiac tone of Appalachian folk ballads as Swift’s voice, otherworldly and siren-like, is accentuated by sweeping string arrangements and the gentle strum of a guitar. “And you didn’t see me here/No, they never did see me here,” she sings, bringing her voice down to a haunting half-whisper.
Swift drew inspiration for the emotionally-wrought tune from the film’s storyline, which follows Kya, the so-called “Marsh Girl” who raises herself in the marshlands of North Carolina. Frequent Swift collaborator Aaron Dessner, who worked alongside the Grammy Award-winner on her 2020 albums Folklore and Evermore, filled in on production duties.
When Kya gets older, she finds herself drawn to two men, but after one of them turns up dead, she’s immediately pegged as the main suspect, igniting an investigation that could reveal some long-held town secrets.
“About a year and half ago I wrote a song about an incredible story, the story of a girl who always lived on the outside, looking in,” Swift said in a statement. “Figuratively and literally. The juxtaposition of her loneliness and independence. Her longing and her stillness. Her curiosity and fear, all tangled up. Her persisting gentleness… and the world’s betrayal of it.”
She added, “I wrote this one alone in the middle of the night and then Aaron Dessner and I meticulously worked on a sound that we felt would be authentic to the moment in time when this story takes place.”
Reese Witherspoon, who produced the Where The Crawdads Sing, called the song “the greatest gift that we could have received.”
“We got a call from Taylor and her team to tell us she had written a song, ‘Carolina,’ that incorporates so many of the haunting elements of the movie,” Witherspoon said. “I’ve gotten to talk with her a couple of times about what inspired the song and how she wrote it. Obviously, she’s a beautiful songwriter who understands so much about folk and country music, and it’s her appreciation of those genres that made the song so perfect for this film.”
In a live-stream chat hosted by Witherspoon earlier this month, director Olivia Newman praised Swift’s contribution to the film, stating, “What was so haunting about [the song] is that you have a very specific feeling when the book ends, which we really wanted to capture at the end of the movie as well.” (“Carolina” plays over the film’s end credits.)
Newman added, “We wanted to leave audiences with that same sort of emotional feeling and her song just leans right into that. So, the first time I listened to it, I just started bawling and I said, ‘I don’t know what’s happening to me right now.’ I mean, I love singing along to Taylor Swift songs but I never cry like this.”
Where the Crawdads Sing stars Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, Michael Hyatt, Sterling Macer Jr., and David Strathairn.
This isn’t the first time Swift has lent her songwriting talents to the silver screen. She previously contributed to the soundtracks for films including The Hunger Games, Valentine’s Day, and Fifty Shades Darker.