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The Wessex Wire

The Wessex Wire

Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poet’s Department’ invites listeners into Swift’s world

Photo courtesy of Brett Jordan (CC BY 2.0 DEED)
Taylor Swift’s most recent release has excited listeners as they try to decode her lyrics.

Fans have been transported into a world full of typewriters, angst and poetry in songwriter Taylor Swift’s eleventh album, “The Tortured Poet’s Department,” on April 19. A second wave of excitement hit when fans learned that they were getting a double album, comprised of 15 new songs to add to the originally promised 16 songs, all showing complexities of Swift’s brain. 

It is immediately apparent that this album is far more private than Swift’s already personal discography. Swift consistently outdoes herself with her lyricism and puts fans through the emotional turmoil she herself went through. However, many have commented on the repetitive nature of the album. Where the lyrics are strong and emotional, the background sounds of each song are all very melancholy and seem to blend into each other. Although these criticisms are fair, this does not discredit the powerful and truthful nature of Swift’s verse in this album. 

All “Swifties,” as fans of Swift are called, know Swift loves to give clues about the truth behind her songs. This album is no different, and there are already many theories about each and every song. 

The purposeful capitalization in the track 24 song “thanK you aIMee,” has dredged up the feud between Swift and media personality Kim Kardashian. In the song, Swift reflects on how badly “Aimee” treated her and how this made her the person she is today. Swift sings that when “Aimee” hears the song she will be the only one who knows exactly what it is about. This part of the song has made fans wonder if the obvious capitalization of the song title is a red herring, and it is actually about another person who did Swift wrong. 

Moving to track 13 titled “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” upbeat and cheery background music is juxtaposed with depressing lyrics. Swift details her experience performing during the viral Eras Tour and dealing with a tragic heartbreak while simultaneously pasting a smile on her face every evening. Fans feel almost remorseful when rewatching Eras Tour Clips, realizing how hard Swift was trying to keep up a cheerful demeanor while singing songs known  for being about her love life. 

In her infamous track five, the song “So Long, London” focuses on Swift’s attempt in finally letting go. There are obvious parallels to Joe Alwyn, who Swift dated from 2016 to April 2023. There are also various callbacks to other songs Swift wrote about Alwyn. The references to London bring up the song “London Boy” from Swift’s album “Lover,” which is about her and Alwyn’s relationship, and seems to be Swift’s way of gaining closure on that relationship. In the song “You’re Losing Me,” which is on a deluxe version of the album “Midnights,” Swift references trying to find a pulse to reinvigorate their relationship. In “So Long, London,” Swift says she “stopped CPR, after all it’s no use”  showing how she is done trying to put their relationship back together. By the end of the song, Swift comes to terms with the breakup, singing “So long, London / Had good run / A moment of warm sun / But I’m not the one,” as explained by reporting done by an April 19 InStyle article.

On a more positive note, “So High School” is one of the most upbeat songs on the new album. It is glaringly obvious that this song is about Swift’s boyfriend, Travis Kelce, a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. The line “You know how to ball, I know Aristotle” is a clear reference to Kelce’s athleticism and Swift’s poetic nature. Swift explains that although they may be an unlikely couple, she feels alive with him. The song “But Daddy I Love Him” is another song assumed to be about Kelce. The lines “He was chaos, he was revelry/If all you want is gray for me/Then it’s just white noise, and it’s my choice” shows how much happier Swift is in her current relationship than she ever has been in the past. The song “Florida!!!” (featuring Florence + the Machine) is one about life not fitting with how you imagined. Fans wonder if Florida is a direct reference to supposed cheating allegations. It was rumored that Swift cheated on Alwyn with Healy, which she addresses by singing “You can beat the heat if you beat the charges too / They said I was a cheat, I guess it must be true.” Additionally, the Eras Tour began in Tampa, right after she split from Alwyn. The next stop on the tour was in Houston, Texas, which Swift references “So you pack your life away just to wait out the shit storm back in Texas.”

The album ends with “The Manuscript,” which some think is about Jake Gyllenhaal, who Swift dated in 2010 and wrote her hit song “All Too Well” about. Others think that it is about all of Swift’s exes, but either way, Swift is saying that she is over everything that happened in the past. She sings “But the story isn’t mine anymore,” which is the perfect way to end the emotional album and close that chapter of her life.

Photo credit: “The Tortured Poets Department – The Anthology – Taylor Swift” by Brett Jordan is licensed under (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Behind the Byline
Sophia Rosen
Sophia Rosen, News and Features Editor
Sophia Rosen is a News and Features editor on the 2023-2024 Wessex Wire. In her freetime, she enjoys playing tennis and hanging out with her friends. Fun Fact: Her favorite ice cream flavor is rocky road.  
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