On songwriting secrets, making albums at home, and what they’ve learned during the pandemic. The first in a series of new conversations between artists
Taylor Swift arrived early to Paul McCartney’s London office in October, “mask on, brimming with excitement.” “I mostly work from home these days,” she writes about that day, “and today feels like a rare school field trip that you actually want to go on.”
Swift showed up without a team, doing her own hair and makeup. In addition to being two of the most famous pop songwriters in the world, Swift and McCartney have spent the past year on similar journeys. McCartney, isolated at home in the U.K., recorded McCartney III. Like his first solo album, in 1970, he played nearly all of the instruments himself, resulting in some of his most wildly ambitious songs in a long time. Swift also took some new chances, writing over email with the National’s Aaron Dessner and recording the raw Folklore, which abandons arena pop entirely in favor of rich character songs. It’s the bestselling album of 2020.