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Sweet Nothing

Midnights (2022)

“Sweet Nothing” is the twelfth track on Taylor’s tenth studio album, Midnights (2022). It was released on October 21, 2022, through Republic Records. Written by Taylor and her partner at the time, William Bowery (Joe Alwyn), it is a song about their simple gratitude for the love and life they had built together. It may also have been partly inspired by The Beatles’ Paul McCartney and his love for his wife Linda.
Taylor and Paul McCartney have been friends for many years. The two met in 2010, interviewed each other for Rolling Stone in 2020, and have both written songs for one another: Taylor “Sweet Nothing” for Paul, and Paul “Who Cares” (2018), which was inspired by Taylor’s relationship with her fans. Taylor also collaborated with Paul’s daughter, Stella McCartney, in 2019 for a clothing line as part of the Lover era and mentionend her name in “London Boy“. Stella also dressed Taylor for the evermore album cover in 2020.
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Background and Release

On August 28, 2022, Taylor announced her tenth studio album, Midnights, set for release on October 21, 2022. One month later, she began unveiling the track-list in a randomized order through a video series on TikTok, called Midnights Mayhem With Me. It consisted of 13 episodes, with one song revealed in per episode. In the twelfth edition on October 7, 2022, Taylor fittingly announced the title of the twelfth track as “Sweet Nothing.”

On the Lavender Marbled deluxe edition of the album, the sixteenth track is a remix of the song called “Sweet Nothing (Piano Remix)”.

Lyrical Theme

“Sweet Nothing” is a slow and soft track about simple gratitude for a life built together. The lyrics are about a narrator’s appreciation of her partner for his calming presence and simple gestures amidst the chaos of the outer world. The song was written by Taylor and Joe Alwyn under his alias, William Bowery. This is not the first time the two had written a song together. William Bowery also has writing credits on the folklore (2020) songs “exile,” and “betty,” as well as “champagne problems,” “coney island,” and the title track “evermore” on her ninth studio album, evermore (2020).

“Sweet Nothing” is a bit of an anomaly on Midnights, since it wasn’t necessarily written about a specific moment in Taylor’s life. Interestingly, the lyrics in the song lign up with a story her friend Paul McCartney (famously a member of The Beatles) told ABC in an interview back in 2001 about his wife Linda, who had passed away in 1998:

«I would go out for a run, think of some words, get home from the run, write them down, and make a cup a tea for Linda. I’d make a little tray, and go up, and then I’d say, 'Hey, by the way, do you want to hear some poetry?' She’d always say, 'Yeah.' And having listened, she would say 'What a mind.' Though the lines may not have been supreme, she wasn't merely being kind. She meant what she said. It's going to make a man feel good, that kind of a thing.»

This quote is exactly the same storyline Taylor tells in “Sweet Nothing.” Moreover, the McCartney family vacationed at the Luggala Estate in Co. Wicklow, Ireland, in the summer of 1971 as an escape from the aftermath of The Beatles’ breakup. In the first verse of the song, Taylor also mentions the Irish town.

On November 29, 2023, Taylor liked a tweet which suggests that “Sweet Nothing” may indeed have been partly inspired by Paul McCartney and his love for Linda.

Live Performances

Taylor first performed “Sweet Nothing” during her sixth headlining concert tour, “The Eras Tour” (2023-2024). It was the second surprise song during her show on August 24, 2023, in Mexico City. On June 28, 2024, she fittingly played the song in the Irish capital city, Dublin, as a mashup with “hoax” (2020).

Critical Reception

“Sweet Nothing” received widespread acclaim from critics. Au-Nhien Nguyen picked it as an album highlight for a different side of Taylor’s songwriting. Alex Hopper of American Songwriter appreciated the song’s romantic simplicity because it feels “buoyantly free and delightfully naive”. Ranking every Midnights track, Billboard journalist Jason Lipshutz placed it as the album’s eighth best song; he said Taylor’s subtle gestures are one of the album’s most affecting. Entertainment Weekly‘s Marc Hirsh called the song “charming” for Taylor’s devotion and gratitude to someone who demands nothing from her. Rick Quinn from PopMatters picked “Sweet Nothing” as one of the songs that showcased Taylor’s ability to “enunciate and play with where the emphatic accent falls become rhythmic instruments.” Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph hailed the “gossamer-light, flyaway ballad” as the album’s best song. In the Financial Times, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney picked the track as a showcase of Taylor’s ability to “sound conversational and highly tuneful at the same time” and lauded her “wonderfully deft use of tone and phrasing”. Esquire selected “Sweet Nothing” among the 45 best songs of 2022.

Commercial Performance

In the United States, songs from Midnights occupied the entire Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100; a historic feat. “Sweet Nothing” debuted at No. 15 on the chart. Taylor became the first artist to simultaneously occupy the Top 10 spots of the Hot 100; the female artist with the most Top 10 songs (40); and the first act to occupy the entire Top 10 of the Hot 100, Streaming Songs, and Digital Songs charts simultaneously. Midnights also became the first album in history to contain ten Top 10 songs.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
I spy with my little tired eye
Tiny as a firefly
A pebble that we picked up last July
Down deep inside your pocket
We almost forgot it
Does it ever miss Wicklow sometimes?
Ooh…

[Chorus 1]
They said the end is coming
Everyone’s up to something
I found myself running home to your
Sweet nothings
Outside, they’re push and shoving
You’re in the kitchen humming
All that you ever wanted from me was
Sweet nothing

[Verse 2]
On the way home
I wrote a poem
You say, “What a mind”
This happens all the time
Ooh…

[Chorus 2]
‘Causе they said the end is coming
Evеryone’s up to something
I found myself running home to your
Sweet nothings
Outside, they’re push and shoving
You’re in the kitchen humming
All that you ever wanted from me was
…nothing

[Bridge]
Industry disruptors and soul deconstructors
And smooth-talking hucksters
Out glad-handing each other
And the voices that implore
“You should be doing more”
To you, I can’t admit
That I’m just too soft for all of it
Ooh…

[Chorus 1]
‘Causе they said the end is coming
Evеryone’s up to something
I found myself running home to your
Sweet nothings
Outside, they’re push and shoving
You’re in the kitchen humming
All that you ever wanted from me was
Sweet nothing

[Final Chorus]
They said the end is coming (They said the end is coming)
Everyone’s up to something (Everyone’s up to something)
I found myself running home to your
Sweet nothings
Outside, they’re push and shoving (Outside, they’re push and shoving)
You’re in the kitchen humming (You’re in the kitchen humming)
All that you ever wanted from me was
Sweet nothing

General Information
ArtistTaylor Swift
AlbumMidnights
ReleasedOctober 21, 2022
Recorded2021-2022
StudiosRough Customer (Brooklyn)
Electric Lady (New York)
GenreIndie Pop
Length3:08
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
William Bowery (Joe Alwyn)
ProducersJack Antonoff
Taylor Swift
MIDNIGHTS CHRONOLOGY
KarmaSweet NothingMastermind
Song Certification
Taylor & Paul McCartney
Song Artwork
Announcement
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Official Audio