We already knew that Taylor Swift was undertaking a scaled-down touring scheduled in support of Lover to spend more time with her family. But in a new Variety interview, the singer reveals for the first time that the cancer her mother Andrea was battling — which inspired the song “Soon You’ll Get Better” from her most recent album — came back in an unforseen fashion while her mom was going through chemo.
“While she was going through treatment, they found a brain tumor,” Swift says. “And the symptoms of what a person goes through when they have a brain tumor is nothing like what we’ve ever been through with her cancer before. So it’s just been a really hard time for us as a family.” So, instead of spending a year or more on the road in support of the album, Swift is doing a handful of Lover Fest shows in the U.S. and Europe, as well as some other festival dates, and that’s it.
“I wanted to be able to perform in places that I hadn’t performed in as much, and to do things I hadn’t done before, like Glastonbury,” she tells the mag. “I feel like I haven’t done festivals, really, since early in my career — they’re fun and bring people together in a really cool way. But I also wanted to be able to work as much as I can handle right now, with everything that’s going on at home. And I wanted to figure out a way that I could do both those things… I mean, we don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t know what treatment we’re going to choose. It just was the decision to make at the time, for right now, for what’s going on.”
Swift, who delves into her mother’s health in the upcoming Netflix documentary Taylor Swift: Miss Americana (Jan. 31) as well, touches on a number of other topics in the Variety piece, including her zen state of mind about not winning a Golden Globe (or being nominated for an Oscar) for her Andrew Lloyd Webber collaboration “Beautiful Ghosts” from the big-screen hairball Cats (“I never would have met Andrew Lloyd Webber or gotten to see how he works and now he’s my buddy”), as well as the letdown of her first foray into political action in her homestate of Tennessee, which did not go as she expected.
“Definitely, that was a bigger disappointment for me,” Swift says of the blowback from her midterm endorsements versus not getting the Grammy nominations she anticipated for her Reputation album. “I think what’s going on out in the world is bigger than who gets a prize at the party.” Swift also explores why the experience further convinced her that it was important for her to made a loud statement in support of her LGBTQ fans and friends on the single “You Need to Calm Down.”
“To celebrate but not advocate felt wrong for me. Using my voice to try to advocate was the only choice to make,” she says. “Because I’ve talked about equality and sung about it in songs like ‘Welcome to New York,’ but we are at a point where human rights are being violated. When you’re saying that certain people can be kicked out of a restaurant because of who they love or how they identify, and these are actual policies that certain politicians vocally stand behind, and they disguise them as family values, that is sinister. So, so dark.”