This whole package is… full of interesting decisions. The cover line “Taylor Swift on Pattie Boyd” is not entirely accurate, as Taylor has not penned an essay about Boyd. Instead, the mag flipped the usual script of having a celebrity interview its cover star, and had its cover star interview a celebrity.

Here is what I think happened: Taylor and her people wanted to get her on a magazine, but nobody wanted the story to be about Taylor, because that would require her to talk about things people are sick of — her year of self-imposed exile, what prompted it, and just generally everything about her because she got way overexposed back then — and worse, it would automatically bring Kim’s and Kanye’s names back into the fore. I think Team Swift wanted to figure out a way to get her some headlines without requiring her to offer up anything new about her personal or current professional life, and without having to come up with a new narrative yet. It’s the cover story writ impersonal. And it’s pretty brilliant.

But it’s still weird because it feels fairly transparent. It would be one thing if Pattie Boyd’s book Wonderful Tonight — about her experience as a muse to Eric Clapton and George Harrison — was new, and the chance to promote it thusly dovetailed with Taylor’s needs. But it was published in 2007. So Boyd is connected to this project in two ways: One, because the aesthetic choices they wanted to use for photographing Taylor lined up with Pattie Boyd’s era of musical influence, and two, because Taylor Swift is someone who is known for using her personal relationships as songwriting ammunition, and Pattie Boyd has been on the other side of that. And that could have been super interesting, had they really delved deeply into it. Taylor appears to get to it immediately:

TAYLOR SWIFT: I have been so excited to talk to you because we’re both women whose lives have been deeply influenced by songs and songwriting. I stand on one side of it, and you on the other. Does the concept of being called a muse feel like a correct fit?

PATTIE BOYD: I find the concept of being a muse understandable when you think of all the great painters, poets, and photographers who usually have had one or two. The artist absorbs an element from their muse that has nothing to do with words, just the purity of their essence.

But it never gets any deeper than that. They discuss how some people are easier to write about than others, but what could have been a willingly intriguing conversation about the effects of putting your life to song — on the writer and on the subject — really just becomes Taylor praising Boyd for her chill and her wisdom.

Taylor did her homework, though, and Boyd says some interesting things about being dropped into the epicenter of Beatlemania that I think could also have drawn in — or drawn out – Taylor a bit, because she’s also at the center of megafandom and her circle of friends during one period of time got pulled into that orbit. Honestly, what I thought when I read those bits was, “Oh, the duchesses and Pattie Boyd could talk a lot about this.” Anyway. Props to Taylor for either reading the book or hiring someone to prep the questions for her adeptly (that’s not shade; I just have no idea if she had time to do it herself), but in the end this experiment… could have gone better. Having said that, at least Taylor got some good answers out of her interview subject, which is more than many celebrities can achieve in this context. Now let’s pop into the slideshow to talk photos, shall we?

[Photos: Harper’s Bazaar]