Song Analysis: The Last Great American Dynasty, Taylor Swift
By: Rose Fennessy
Taylor Swift's Rhode Island house, whose previous owner's spawned the idea for her song (Photo Credit: Page Six)
“the last great american dynasty” is the third track of Taylor Swift’s eighth studio album folklore. The song is about Rebekah Harkness, who was the previous owner of Swift’s Rhode Island mansion, also known as “holiday house”. It tells the real story of Rebekah’s marriage to Bill Harkness who was an heir to the Standard Oil fortune and died in 1954. Swift shows this in the lyrics “They picked out a home and called it Holiday House / Their parties were tasteful, if a little loud / The doctor had told him to settle down / It must have been her fault his heart gave out”.
After her husband's death, Rebekah “filled the pool with champagne”, a fact that is actually true, as the real-life Rebekah cleaned her pool with Dom Perignon. Many of the other lyrics Swift wrote are true stories about Rebekah Harkness. “She blew all her money on the boys and the ballet”, is in reference to her sponsoring Jofferey’s ballet troupe for many years. “She stole his dog and dyed it key lime green”, is also true, except it was actually a cat she dyed green.
Rebekah Harkness died of cancer in 1982, and “50 years is a long time / Holiday House sat quietly on that beach / Free of women with madness, their men and bad habits / And then it was bought by me”. Swift purchased the property for $17 million in 2013. In some ways, Swift feels connected to Rebekah. Harkness was married 4 times, similarly, Swift received backlash for her multiple past relationships. Another similarity is shown in the lyrics “She flew in her b**** pack friends from the city”, which could also be a reference to Swift’s friend group that includes celebs like Selena Gomez and Gigi Hadid.
“the last great american dynasty” is one of the most upbeat and happy songs on the folklore album. It tells the story of Rebekah Harkness, and Swift's arrival 50 years later.