How ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ Landed an Original Taylor Swift Song

The film adaptation’s director and stars also tell TheWrap why the ending was the perfect place to put the song

“Where the Crawdads Sing” leveled up from its already high standing in the world of pop culture when singer/songwriter Taylor Swift announced that she had written a song that would be featured in the film adaptation. But what fans didn’t know was Swift wrote the song before production on the film had even begun.

The novel, written by Delia Owens, tells the story of a young girl named Kya who lives on her own undisturbed out in a marsh, until she becomes a suspect in a potential murder. The film has been adapted through Lucy Alibar’s screenplay.

Swift wrote “Carolina” specifically for the new film, with momentum from her “folklore” album production, asking Aaron Dessner to produce it. She teased the single with the movie’s trailer on social media in March, writing “I wanted to create something haunting and ethereal to match this mesmerizing story.”

“Taylor wrote this song when she heard that there was a movie being made out of this book,” director Olivia Newman told TheWrap in a recent interview. “She had read the book and loved it. And so when she heard that Reese [Witherspoon] was producing an adaptation, she immediately started thinking about writing an original song for it. She actually wrote and recorded the song before we had gone into production.” 

In a separate interview with TheWrap, the two main stars of the film adaptation recounted their first experiences of hearing the song, each commenting on how well it fits the story.

“The first time I heard the song was the first time I watched the film myself and the credits rolled and it started to come after that ending, which I think most people might not expect the twist,” said Daisy Edgar-Jones, who plays Kya. “I couldn’t believe how accurately she managed to capture the feeling I had when I was playing Kya and also the feeling I had when I read the book. I feel like the melody and the lyrics and that kind of haunting sound is so perfect for that environment and for Kya as a character so I was just yeah overwhelmed and very moved by it.”

Taylor John Smith, who plays one of Kya’s love interests Tate Walker, had a similar reaction.

“Like Daisy, I heard the song at the end of the first screening and that moment where you finally figure out exactly what happened as an audience member.” he said. “And it just hits you and then it fades to black and the song starts playing and you just like melt in your seat and the song gets under your skin. In my head if I were to pick a melody, let alone the beautiful lyrics like that, that haunting vastness that she created with that song was perfect for the end of the film.”

Swift released the song three weeks before the film’s premiere, hiding hints to fans in a twelve-piece collage posted to the film’s Instagram account.

“It’s a little nerve wracking to get an original song for a movie you haven’t shot yet because it’s hard to know what the movie is going to need until you have it,” Newman said. “But what was amazing was when I listened to the song for the first time, I had this very emotional response to it because it put me in the same emotional place that I was in when I finished the book. And I knew that that’s where I wanted the audience to end. At the end of the movie, I wanted the audience to have that same feeling that you have at the end of the book.”

Newman also saw the song as a great way to close the film.

“I thought, ‘Well, no matter what happens, this is the song that I can imagine listening to during the end credits while you’re absorbing what you just saw,’ because that’s the feeling that I had listening to it. And so then we shot the film and finished it and we’re so delighted that we could get the rights to it for the end credits because it always felt like it was going to be the perfect ending.”

The lyric video for “Carolina” can be watched below.