Taylor Swift is opening up about her mother’s health battles.
In a interview for her Variety cover story, the singer is candid about her mom’s recent brain tumor diagnosis. While filming her upcoming Netflix documentary, Miss Americana — set to premiere at Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23 — Andrea Swift’s cancer (which she first revealed in 2015) returned for the second time. It was then that her brain tumor was discovered. “She was going through chemo, and that’s a hard enough thing for a person to go through,” the pop star told Variety. “While she was going through treatment, they found a brain tumor. 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.”
For Swift, the blow is twofold in so much as her mother is the person she’s closest to in the world and also acts as a manger figure, advising her in every step of her career. “Everyone loves their mom; everyone’s got an important mom,” she says in the interview. “But for me, she’s really the guiding force. Almost every decision I make, I talk to her about it first. So obviously it was a really big deal to ever speak about her illness.”
Swift paid tribute to her mother and addressed her sickness in the track “Soon You’ll Feel Better” on her 2019 album Lover. The singer has previously revealed that the song, an emotional collaboration with Dixie Chicks, was one of the hardest for her to write and it was a family decision to include it on the record.
As many have speculated, her mother’s condition is one of the reasons Swift’s tour in support of Lover will be considerably smaller than her recent outings. Typically, the Variety story notes, the pop star would spend nine months to a year on the road, bringing her show to fans around the world after the release of an album. In this instance, Swift plans to limit herself to just four stadium dates in America during summer 2020, as well as making stops at some of the biggest European festivals. However, Swift also admits that playing some of those festivals for the first time is reason in itself to add them to her schedule. “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 says. “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.” Before adding that, of course, being close to her mother is the main impetus for the limited run. “Yeah, that’s it. That’s the reason,” she says. “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.”
As well as speaking to her mother’s diagnosis, Swift discussed her recent political activism, which is also addressed in the forthcoming documentary. Indeed, per Variety, one scene shows the singer writing an anthem for young people feeling frustrated and at a loss when it comes to the current political climate and lack of process. That concept is detailed in lyrics such as: “You did all that you could do / The game was rigged, the ref got tricked/ The wrong ones think they’re right / We were outnumbered — this time.” The previously unheard song “Only the Young” plays in full over the movie’s end credits and will be released digitally in conjunction with the documentary.
Miss Americana arrives on Netflix on Jan. 31. Read Swift’s full interview at Variety.