The Last Great American Dynasty: Song Meaning, Lyrics, & Easter Eggs

Taylor Swift

Getty Taylor Swift’s eighth studio album, “Folklore,” dropped at midnight on July 24.

The Last Great American Dynasty is the third song on Taylor Swift’s eighth studio album, “Folklore.” Swift announced the surprise album on July 23. It contains 16 tracks and one bonus track.

In announcing her album, Swift mentioned how her plans for the summer had changed amid the coronavirus pandemic — namely, she had planned on a massive global tour for her seventh album, Lover, which came out last August. She wrote on Instagram,

“Most of the things i had planned this summer didn’t end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen. And that thing is my 8th studio album, folklore. Surprise […] Tonight at midnight I’ll be release in my entire brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into. I wrote and recorded this music in isolation but got to collaborate with some musical heroes of mine…

Before this year I probably would’ve overthought when to release this music at the ‘perfect’ time, but the times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed. My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world. That’s the side of uncertainty I can get on board with.”

Here’s what you need to know:


The Last Great American Dynasty Full Lyrics: ‘She Had a Marvelous Time Ruining Everything’

Here are the full lyrics for The Last Great American Dynasty, per Genius:

[Verse 1]
Rebekah rode up on the afternoon train, it was sunny
Her saltbox house on the coast took her mind off St. Louis
Bill was the heir to the Standard Oil name and money
And the town said “How did a middle-class divorcée do it?”
The wedding was charming, if a little gauche
There’s only so far new money goes
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
And they said

[Chorus]
There goes the last great American dynasty
Who knows, if she never showed up, what could’ve been
There goes the maddest woman this town has ever seen
She had a marvelous time ruining everything

[Verse 2]
Rebekah gave up on the Rhode Island set forever
Flew in all her Bitch Pack friends from the city
Filled the pool with champagne and swam with the big names
And blew through the money on the boys and the ballet
And losing on card game bets with Dalí

And they said

[Chorus]
There goes the last great American dynasty
Who knows, if she never showed up, what could’ve been
There goes the most shameless woman this town has ever seen She had a marvelous time ruining everything

[Bridge]
They say she was seen on occasion
Pacing the rocks, staring out at the midnight sea
And in a feud with her neighbor
She stole his dog and dyed it key lime green
Fifty 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

[Chorus]
Who knows, if I never showed up, what could’ve been
There goes the loudest woman this town has ever seen
I had a marvelous time ruining everything

[Outro]
I had a marvelous time ruining everything
A marvelous time ruining everything
A marvelous time
I had a marvelous time


The Last Great American Dynasty Song Meaning & Easter Eggs

The Last Great American Dynasty is one of four explicit tracks on Folklore. Fans of Swift might  wonder if Swift is making a reference to some of her grand parties she’s hosted at her Rhode Island beachside mansion over the years, or if this is a straight political allegory like Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince. 

In a tweet following the release of Folklore, Swift seemed to hint at a level of fantasy for this album. She wrote, “In isolation my imagination has run wild and this album is the result. I’ve told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder, and whimsy they deserve.”

With that said, there seems to be historical basis for this track, which to appears to be a fictive reimagining of the life of Rebekah Harkness. Harkness, who went by Betty Harkness, owned the Holiday House, a mansion in Watch Hill, Rhode Island that Swift now owns. Harkness’s marriage to an oil tycoon made her one of the wealthiest women in America during her lifetime, which was punctuated with wild antics and famous stories.

The Last Great American Dynasty seems to hint at some of Swift’s other tracks on Folklore, with mentions of a “mad woman,” Which is the title of another track on the album. It’s possible that Swift’s song Betty is also about Harkness.

This post will be updated shortly.


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