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Breaking Down All 31 Songs Of Taylor Swift's 'The Tortured Poets Department' Album

Please check in on the Swifties in your life, as we are not okay. We expected 17 sad songs about Joe Alwyn, and instead, we got 31 horny/rageful/cruel/curious tracks about Matty Healy, fame, Kim Kardashian, and Travis. We’re grateful, don’t get us wrong!!! Mommy feeds us well. But we are currently pouring a manuscript of lyrics and just trying to reply to all the incoming messages. 

To help my fellow Swifties, I have compiled a Sparknotes summary of the most important The Tortured Poets Department lyrics and their meanings across the 31 songs. Yep, I am unwell, and yep, I am on my fifth coffee today. Enjoy, love you so much babes!!!! No, you’re the best!!!!


“And for a fortnight there we were forever running

‘Til you sometimes ask about the weather

Now you’re in my backyard turned into good neighbors

Your wife waters flowers, I wanna kill her”

Silly me thought that she had learned her lesson from the Lana collab and decided to properly include artists. But nope, Post Malone is essentially a Doowop girlie in the background. 

So fortnight is what us Brits call two weeks/14 nights. British = Joe Alwyn. What happened in two weeks? Well, rumors suggest that Slow Joe started dating Emma Laird about 12 days after the breakup, which is within a fortnight! Or if it’s about her other British man (girlie has a type), then it might be how short-lived her relationship with Matty Healy was. But more likely, it’s about Joe, as she speaks of a “miracle move on drug,” which was likely her rebound with Matty, and she mentions an “endless February,” which is when she and Slow Joe broke up.

“Fortnight” also beautifully contrasts one of her best songs on Lover (in my unhumble opinion), “Daylight.” It’s a contrast of day and night, the beauty of a new relationship and the darkness of one ending, the rain starting and the rain ending. Asking about the weather is a total red flag in a relationship as you literally have nothing else to discuss, and it seems like she is jealous of this perfect simple life her ex will have, one without someone as famous and burdened as her. The other woman is a “wife” while she is just “a functioning alcoholic.”

“I was a functioning alcoholic

‘Til nobody noticed my new aesthetic”

Speaking of which, while I chuckled along with the rest at this line, on my third listen I get it!! She’s trying on personalities and problems like they’re new coats. We all do something hoping someone will notice and care and worry about us. We claim not to be hungry, we drink too much, we try some naughty things. She was just desperate to be seen by him!!

Life lesson: Someone check on the wives of her exes!

“The Tortured Poets Department”

“You smokеd then ate seven bars of chocolate

We declared Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist

I scratch your head, you fall asleep

Like a tattooed golden retriever”

Well in case you had any doubts that Matty Healy had weaseled his way into being her muse, here it is!!! Here it is!!! (Mom just told me to stop yelling).

Matty Healy: he smokes, he probably gets high and eats a bunch of chocolate, he apparently likes Charlie Puth, and he is def tattooed — but less sure about the golden retriever part. As a golden retriever owner, I’d like a refund for that. 

This song isn’t just about new relationships, but the exciting drama of a relationship between two creatives. You legit think you’re Patti Smith and Dylan Thomas, but you’re not, you’re two losers with a Squarespace and a Soundcloud. The beautiful part of this song is the self-awareness Swift has, of knowing that they’re not these tortured artists, they’re just “modern idiots.” It’s a mix of being a casual fling but also way too intense, in the way only creatives are. He threatens to kill himself if she leaves, and she apparently said the same thing?? He jokingly put a ring on her finger, and she felt excited!! One month in!!!

Life lesson: It’s okay to be delulu as long as you know you are.

“My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys”

“My boy only breaks his favorite toys, toys, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

I’m queen of sand castles he destroys, oh, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

‘Cause it fit too right, puzzle pieces

 in the dead of night

I should’ve known it was a matter of time, oh, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh”

In this absolute anthem to the labor of women, Taylor explores the complexities of love and loss. Her partner is infantilized as a “boy,” while she is a “queen,” BUT a “queen of sandcastles,” something fragile and easily broken, built by the same child that will likely destroy it later. It’s the idea of being used and discarded like a broken toy. She is trying to be this perfect Barbie doll, but it’s never enough, not even for someone like Margot Robbie. 

This isn’t the first time she has used a toy metaphor. In “Cruel Summer,” she sang, “Bad, bad boy / Shiny toy with a price.” Her song “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” was all about someone destroying everything good. 

So what is it about? Lines like “And I’ll tell you that he runs because he loves me” could refer to how Joe would run from paparazzi, not even pausing to open a door for Taylor or take her hand. It’s also the ideal of gaslighting yourself into thinking someone acts this way due to their unbridled love for you. They like you so much that they’re self-sabotaging, that they’re acting out. When really they’re just a boy.

But the line “‘Cause he took me out of my box” could very well link to Matty, as she felt trapped in a box for six years with Joe, and Matty took her into the public again.


“Down Bad”

“Staring at the sky, come back and pick me up

Fuck it if I can’t have us

I might just not get up

I might stay down bad”

One of Travis Kelce’s favs on the album!! Despite using a phrase most often referred to as being “down bad” for someone, it’s mainly a song about post-breakup depression. She feels left behind by the person who made her feel so special. She was “heavenstruck,” and now she is abandoned. Kind of like when you refused to wash your hair and lived off toast for two weeks.

She likens it to being abducted by aliens but then returned once she knows the magic out there exists. She knows what it was like to live with such an all-consuming love, and now she has to live without it once more. Breakups really do bring out the “teenage petulance” in us and make us so egocentric. We genuinely think no one has experienced the kind of pain we’re going through. Our friends get so sick of us and the one-track conversation we hold – “They’ll say I’m nuts if I talk about the existence of you.”

“How dare you think it’s romantic / Leaving me safe and stranded?” – a contrast to her previous song, “New Romantics,” where called it romantic to be left stranded. She’s experienced it now, and she knows better. She doesn’t want to be locked away by him anymore!!

“Now I’m down bad, crying at the gym,” Tay has previously shared that she trained for the Eras Tour by running on a treadmill and singing her songs. Well, a bunch of her songs are about Joe, so she’s crying while she sings about their love and jogs. This is why we shouldn’t work out girlies!

Life lesson: Even Taylor Swift cries at the gym.

“So Long, London”

“I saw in my mind ferry lights through the mist

I kept calm and carried the weight of the rift

Pulled him in tighter each time he was drifting away

My spine split from carrying us up the hill”

We were all waiting for her track five, which is always the most personal and vulnerable song on the album!!! It’s giving “tolerate it.” I am emotionally unraveled by this tune. Okay, so it goes without saying that this song is about JOE — SUPPOSEDLY. They lived together in London, and as we learned, it was a slow and agonizing end. 

“Keep Calm and Carry On” is a popular saying in the UK, referencing a motivational poster from pre-WWII. So she “kept calm and carried the weight” in a fun play with words. She “pulled him in tighter each time he was drifting away,” was Joe struggling too? Was she clinging to someone trying to isolate himself? The weight of carrying the both of them made her “spine split.” IT’S ALL ON HER BACK!

“I didn’t opt in to be your odd man out

I founded the club she’s heard great things about

I left all I knew, you left me at the house by the Hеath

I stopped CPR, after all it’s no use

Thе spirit was gone, we would never come to

And I’m pissed off you let me give you all that youth for free”

She was odd man out of his friend group, as hinted in her song “Question…?” on Midnights. Future partners know him through her and “the club” she made for him. Obviously, they shared a “house by the Heath.” The CPR references mimic “You’re Losing Me,” which had a heartbeat throughout and was about losing someone slowly. She gave him all her youth because she was 27 when they started, now it’s six years later, and she hid away FOR HIM!!! I’m going to go find Joe.

She also refers to his “bluest days” which is a color reference she often uses for Joe in songs. In “peace,” she spoke of “cascade ocean wave blues come.” In “Paper Rings,” she’s with him “evewn if it makes me blue.” Finally in “hoax,” she sings “Don’t want no other shade of blue but you.” It’s fascinating how she is intermixing the color for sadness with the color of him, as maybe he is sadness too, in a different shade. Woah. It’s not an angry one, or even that resentful, it’s jsut disappointed. I’M NOT MAD I’M JUST DISAPPOINTED. 

Life lesson: Don’t let him drag you down with him, and don’t go to London.

“But Daddy, I Love Him”

“Dutiful daughter, all my plans were laid

Tendrils tucked into a woven braid

Growing up precocious sometimes means not growing up at all

He was chaos, he was revelry

Bedroom eyes like a remedy

Soon enough the elders had convened down at the city hall”

This song is not what fans expected. Instead of something that alludes to Taylor losing her voice like the Little Mermaidwhen she was with Joe, this is really a message to the haters. Taylor’s fans were NOT here for her relationship with Matty Healy.

Taylor sings: Now I’m running with my dress unbuttoned, screaming, ‘But daddy I love him.’ I’m having his baby, no I’m not, but you should see your faces. I’m telling him to floor it through the fences. No I’m not coming to my senses. I know he’s crazy, but he’s the one I want. Oh dear. The whole tune is essentially Taylor saying she’s a good girl who wants a bad boy, a tale as old as time. And ya know what? I do not necessarily agree with the principle of the thing, but the song’s a damn hit. Taylor calling herself “precocious” and admitting she wants “chaos” is signature Blondie. It almost reminds me of “Love Story.”

Life Lesson: Fuck what they all say, go be messy, girlie.

“Fresh Out the Slammer”

“Years of labor, locks and ceilings

In the shade of how he was feeling

But it’s gonna be alright, I did my time”

She’s referencing her relationship with Joe like it was a prison sentence, locked away for six years, and it seems like she immediately booty called Matty once out of it. She knew who she wanted her rebound to be. It’s also similar to “Bejewelled” when she begs her partner not to keep her trapped, and sings, “Don’t put me in the basement.” Her lover stopped her from being herself, but no longer.

She did her time as a good girl with “silent dinners” and “daily disappearing,” no more, no more! She is the “girl of his American dreams,” and you can be too, just go to Europe!!

Life Lesson: Always have your rebound prepared, no matter how long you’ve been together.


“So I did my best to lay to rest

All of the bodies that have ever been on my body

And in my mind, they sink into the swamp

Is that a bad thing to say in a song?”

Hi Florence, she properly included you, lucky girl!! The three exclamation points in the title are a lot but I respect the mania. So Florida was the first Eras Tour stop after her breakup with Alwyn and it frames this ungodly state as an escape from her issues. 

She’s been so cheeky and self-aware with the question, “Is that a bad thing to say in a song?” as she knows how everything is scrutinized and how guys worry about being the subject of her songs. She and Florence are being saucy girlies with it.

“And my friends all smell like weed or little babies,” she’s reached that age where half her friends are popping out offspring, and the other half are still going wild, and Tay Tay doesn’t know where she fits in it all! So this song is her going wild as she just escaped a relationship, so why not?

Life Lesson: After a breakup, go get fucked up in Florida.

“Guilty as Sin?”

“What if I roll the stone away?

They’re gonna crucify me anyway

What if the way you hold me is actually what’s holy?”

We, the fans, think this song is about Matty Healy as he was surrounded by so much negativity during their brief relationship, and she felt judged for dating him. Also, it mentions the song “Downtown Lights” by the band The Blue Nile, which is Matty’s fav band of all time!!! 

She also used the phrase “guilty as sin” in her song “Carolina” for the 2022 film Where the Crawdads Sing. Given this album is two years in the works, there might be a link between them. 

It’s a song about being wrong no matter what she does. She was guilty before they’d even touched. Maybe she fantasized about being with him or toyed with the idea. She was delulu about how this relationship could go and fill in the gaps of a perfect boyfriend in this messy man. 

She also asks, “Am I allowed to cry?” So this could be the way the public shames her for whatever she does, crying is seen as weakness or manipulation. ALTERNATIVELY, my theory is whether she’s allowed to be upset about the end of this situationship given how casual it was. Is she allowed to be more upset about her situationship ending than her six year relationship?

Life Lesson: If Taylor is this delulu about rat men, you can be too.

“Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”

“So tell me everything is not about me, but what if it is?

Then say they didn’t do it to hurt me, but what if they did?

I wanna snarl and show you just how disturbed this has made me”

The media fills in so many gaps for her and is so quick to make her a villain. They ran wild with her possible relationship with Matty Healy, this so-called feud with little Olivia Rodrigo, her war with Ticketmaster, her many supposed PR stunts, and the list goes on. This song is about her enjoying the power, the implication of a few words. She was good, she was “tame,” until the world broke her. She’s an animal constantly watched and prodded, literally like a lion in the circus!! Will she roar?

Life Lesson: Everything is about you, you’re not delulu!

“I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)”

“They shake their heads saying, “God, help her” when I tell ’em he’s my man

But your good lord doesn’t need to lift a finger

I can fix him, no, really, I can

And only I can”

It’s giving “I wish he was a Better Man” from Fearless. We all think we’re different, they’re different, we can fix them, yeah everyone says it, but we mean it. By the end, she knows she can’t, we never can. Matty Healy was problematic even before they started, and she felt like she’d fix him up, she’d soften his edges, but she didn’t. 

“The jokes that he told across the bar were revolting and far too loud” —- I can literally see this make it stop. I don’t think I’ll ever have sex again.

“His hands so calloused from his pistol softly traces hearts on my face” — or calloused from his guitar?? 

Life Lesson: You can’t fix them. Instead, go buy an IKEA cupboard with a name you can’t pronounce.


“If you know it in one glimpse, it’s legendary

What we thought was for all time was momentary

Still alive, killing time at the cemetery

Never quite buried”

Love of my life? Or loss of my life? You’re one until you’re suddenly the other. When we’re in a relationship with someone, we think this is it, this is the final chapter. Then after six years, it ended, and Taylor is now trying to make sense of it all, to come to terms with him being a “loss” rather than a “love.”

Breakups involve the same type of mourning as grief, but the person is “still alive” and “never quite buried.” They’re just posting their new girl on Instagram, and you have to pretend it’s fine. They were “talking rings and talking cradles,” and now they don’t even talk. Oh my god, I am crying so hard I can’t breathe.

“The coward claimed he was a lion,” she is realizing who he really was and she’s “combing through braids of lies.” That awful foresight you get with a breakup when you realize it WAS NOT WORTH IT SOBBING.

Life Lesson: He wasn’t the one, just a one, and Joe better lock his doors.

“I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”

“’Cause I’m a real tough kid

I can handle my shit

They said, “Babe, you gotta fake it till you make it” and I did

Lights, camera, bitch, smile

Even when you wanna die”

Okay, why is this low-key my life’s theme song? The lyrics are so sad and painful, but the beat is a BOP. She is touring after the breakup! She is doing it all! She is “faking it until she made it.” She knows what the world expects from her, so she delivers. The fun tune with haunting lyrics shows how she was so upset inside but grinning and covering herself with glitter. She kept “hitting [her] marks” onstage like nothing had happened. “The crowd was chanting ‘more’” so she gave them more and more of herself!

“I’m so depressed, I act like it’s my birthday, every day” — when we try to act happy while being sad girlies, we go extra, giving way too much. She’s so depressed so she is fucking going all out!!! And birthdays are inherently sad but joyful. Doesn’t everyone cry every birthday?

“I cry a lot, but I am so productive, it’s an art” — she makes money off her sad songs!! We want her to be happy, but also what would she write about then?

Already predicting that TikTok will run WILD with this one!!

Life Lesson: It’s your birthday so cry!!

“The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”

“And I don’t even want you back, I just want to know

If rusting my sparkling summer was the goal

And I don’t miss what we had, but could someone give

A message to the smallest man who ever lived?”

We all thought this was bound to be about Joe, but nope, it’s about Matty!!! This song is the disappointment of realizing that you simped for a man who ain’t shit. She’s disappointed in him but also herself for falling for him. It’s embarrassing to look at your ex and realize the lengths you went to keep him.

“You hung me on your wall / Stabbed me with your push pins” — he couldn’t even frame her?? Taylor often sings about being used as decoration by men, being a trophy or medal rather than an equal partner. Matty liked the idea of Taylor, not the reality of her.

“Were you sent by someone

Who wanted me dead?

Did you sleep with a gun underneath our bed?

Were you writing a book?

Were you a sleeper cell spy?

In fifty years will all this be declassified?” — Okay, little dramatic but it’s the idea of knowing people use you. She hates knowing she’ll be a chapter in someone’s memoir. She’s a story to tell at the bar, not a real person. She’s grown so paranoid with partners and now can’t truly give herself anymore.

Life Lesson: If this song could apply to your current partner, dump them immediately.

“The Alchemy”

Shirts off, and your friends lift you up, over their heads

Beer stickin’ to the floor, cheers chanted ’cause they said

“There was no chance trying to be the greatest in the league”

Where’s the trophy? He just comes, running over to me

So Woman in STEM time: alchemy is about finding gold by mixing other chemicals. It wouldn’t work as you just get gold alloys, not gold. Tay Tay often refers to relationships as gold or golden, and now she’s realizing it’s always fake gold. FOOL’S GOLD. But she doesn’t need gold now, as she has actual love.

IS THIS SONG ABOUT TRAVIS?? “Touch down!” “These blokes warm the benches” “Shirts off and your friends lift you up over their heads” OMG THE FOOTBALL REFERENCES NEXT STOP. She is in her football girlie era, and we love that for her.

Life Lesson: Maybe we should date that guy from the football team.

“Clara Bow”

“Beauty is a beast that roars down on all fours demanding more

Only when your girlish glow flickers just so

Do they let you know?

It’s hell on earth to be heavenly

Them’s the brakes, they don’t come gently”

Okay, she’s talking about Clara Bow, a silent film star who struggled with mental health issues as a result of her fame. She also had a “turbulent love life.” So Taylor is Clara!!! It’s about her own twisted relationship with fame. People never expected much of her, but she’s proving them wrong, and now they all claim to know her. 

She is compared to Clara Bow, Stevie Nicks, and then Taylor Swift, as she has become the next used and abused icon for future generations. Someone else will be what she was but better, as we always have to be better.

“In this light, remarkable”

“In this light, we’re loving it”

It’s only remarkable and loved in this exact light, if you’re exactly what they want!!! Only then! It’s so hard being famous sigh.

Life Lesson: If Taylor Swift doesn’t feel like enough, you never will, so go have fun instead!

“The Black Dog”

“How you don’t miss me

In the shower, and remember how my rain-soaked body

Was shaking, do you hate me?

Was it hazing for a cruel fraternity?

I pledged, and I still mean it

Old habits die screaming”

Okay, first of all, this is giving English pub. I recently saw a Tweet that if you take any color and any name and you have a pub name. The Green Goose. The Blue Pig. THE BLACK DOG. Is it an actual pub? Is it a metaphor for the pubs they spent time together in? Or is it the traditional hunting dog and she is the prey they caught just for fun? The black dog might also be a metaphor for depression, this grim figure following you around. 

“Six weeks of breathing clean air

I still miss the smoke

Were you making fun of me?

With some esoteric joke?

Now I wanna sell my house

And set fire to all my clothes

And hire a priest to come and exorcise my demons”

This bridge is right up there with her best ones. Like she sang in “Clean”: “Just because your clean don’t mean you don’t miss it.” She misses Joe! Despite the bad, the pain, the loneliness, she misses him and she can’t understand why he doesn’t miss her. She misses him like “smoke” as it’s something bad for you, yet a familiar, almost comforting scent. She’s paranoid and thinks he was laughing at her, he thought he was better than her, which gives “Question…?” vibes. Also, we all know that feeling of wishing you could exorcise your last relationship, and I think we’d all move house after if we could afford it!!

That last little gaspy inhale where it sounds like she is trying not to cry MY HEART.

Life Lesson: You can know it’s wrong for you but still miss it, like bangs or MyFitnessPal.


“Whether I’m gonna be your wife, or

Gonna smash up your bike, I haven’t decided yet

But I’m gonna get you back

Whether I’m gonna curse you out, or

Take you back to my house, I haven’t decided yet

But I’m gonna get you back”

Olivia Rodrigo, is that you?? Okay, this song is for the girlies who post an Instagram story just for their ex to see. It’s not that you WANT to be with them again, but you want them to want you. She’s in her “lilac short skirt” and feeling herself. She’s also kind of craving revenge, so she isn’t sure yet. He fucked her up, and she wants the power back. It’s giving “Vigilante Shit.” 

Life Lesson: Wear the short skirt and slash his tires, sorted!

“The Albatross”

“Cross your thoughtless heart

Only liquor anoints you

She’s the albatross

She is here to destroy you”

Okay, not to go full David Attenborough, but an albatross is a sea bird that doesn’t touch land for the first six years of its life! It’s just got its shit together. Six years? Like the length of her relationship with Joe! Also, her Grammys look was lowkey giving albatross: white dress and black gloves to represent the wings. Albatrosses are often a metaphor for guilt or burdens — poor things!

Is Taylor the albatross haunting Joe? Is she the albatross flying on like she was raised to? 

Life Lesson: Maybe our spirit animal should be a bird.

“Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus”

“If you want to break my cold, cold heart

Just say, “I loved you the way that you were”

If you want to tear my world apart

Just say you’ve always wondered”

A sad, sad song about a bad, bad relationship. We’ve got cheating, we’ve got resentment, and we’ve got an unwillingness to let someone grow! If the partner just said they liked the old Taylor, it would tear her apart, as she is so proud of her growth. 

Okay, but there is some bi-energy happening here, and I love to see it. She doesn’t know if her partner is cheating with “Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus,” which also suggests that infidelity is a regular occurrence by now. 

“And you saw my bones out with somebody new / Who seemed like he would’ve bullied you in school” —- Yeah, can’t deny Travis would’ve sorted Joe or Matty out real fast.

“I changed into goddesses, villains, and fools / Changed plans and lovers and outfits and rules / All to outrun my desertion of you” — Once again, we witness Taylor changing herself over and over to be what someone wants and finding that it’s never enough. 

“Will that make your memory fade from this scarlet maroon?” — SO SCARLET IT WAS MAROON!!! 

I think we all “always wonder” about what could’ve been, but girlie you got Trav now!!!

Life Lesson: We all gotta stop looking for closure and slide into someone’s DMs.

“How Did it End?”

“Guess who we ran into at the shops?

Walking in circles like she was lost

Didn’t you hear?

They called it all off

One gasp and then

How did it end?”

Everyone wants to know how it ended. They want a “post-mortem” on each celeb relationship. But the very end is often not as important as the weeks or months that led to that point. You can’t understand the final chapter without reading the ones that led to it. But we all love gossiping and discussing which high school couple broke up (very guilty of sending that screenshot myself). Taylor knows how her breakup is treated like news to be devoured, not a real event happening to a real person. But she can’t answer the question or offer the quote for tabloids, as she doesn’t even know how it ended. 

Life Lesson: Gossip is bad, but we all do it.

“So High School”

“I’ll drink what you think and I’m high

From smoking your jokes all damn night

The brink of a wrinkle in time

Been a sweet 16 suddenly”

Well, people have compared Travis and Taylor to a high school ‘it’ couple, so it’s not a huge leap to make… She’s back in high school, but this time she’s dating the star of the football team and having the time of her life. He literally gets her car door for her also!! Girlie is having fun, and I love that for her.

“You know how to ball, I know Aristotle” — Love Trav but yeah, sir does not know Aristotle. Throw the ball, baby!

“You knew what you wanted, and, boy, you got her” — he did! He spoke on that podcast, made the friendship bracelets, and ensured it happened. Go Travis!

Life Lesson: Don’t date someone IN high school, but date someone that feels like high school. Unless you didn’t peak in high school, then def don’t feel like that again!

“I Hate It Here”

“I hate it here so I will go to

Lunar valleys in my mind

When they found a better planet

Only the gentle survived”

Life sucks, so she is going full delulu and escaping into a dream world. She is dreaming of something better and hiding from reality. Like when you binge a whole season of Below Deck to avoid dealing with your taxes. Life fucking sucks, and even Taylor Swift needs a break from it. Also, she might have some climate change fear which is fair.

“I’m lonely, but I’m good / I’m bitter, but I swear I’m fine” — It’s like when you make a joke that’s a bit too depresso so you then laugh it off!! Like, hahaha no I don’t wanna die all the time haha!!

“Tell me something awful like you are a poet / Trapped inside the body of a finance guy” — this is so funny but so sad, and the most accurate first date line of my life.

Life Lesson: Don’t date finance bros and stay delulu, girlies.

“thanK you aIMee”

“I wrote a thousand songs that you find uncool

I built a legacy which you can’t undo

But when I count the scars, there’s a moment of truth

That there wouldn’t be this, if there hadn’t been you”

Are we all going to pretend we don’t see KIM in the title of the song? Yeah, okay, let’s pretend it isn’t a reference to Kim Kardashian, cool, cool. She even says “so I changed your name, and any real defining clues,” subtle girl as always. 

So this is giving “Mean” and that she has never let anything go in her whole life. Carry your rage to keep yourself warm. But she also mentions how all of this pain and loneliness turned her into the person she is today, it made her work so fucking hard, hard enough to suddenly release 31 songs in one day — DOES SHE SLEEP? It’s realizing that they don’t even know they’re the villain in your story, and they tell a different story.

“And one day, your kid comes home singin’ / A song that only us two is gonna know is about you” — NORTHIE? She even posted a TikTok dancing to a Taylor Swift song.

“I pushed each boulder up the hill / Your words are still just ringing in my head, ringing in my head” —- Greek mythology queen! Taylor is comparing herself to Sisyphus, who was forced to push a boulder up a hill for eternity as punishment from the gods. She was doing the same with the weight of the emotional feud, holding onto her anger in a pointless manner.

Life Lesson: Let it go. You’re not in your Reputation era, you’re just bitching. 

“I Look in People’s Windows”

“I look in people’s windows

Transfixed by rose golden glows

They have their friends over to drink nice wine

I look in people’s windows

In case you’re at their table

What if your eyes looked up and met mine

One more time”

Our girlie is reflecting on what could have been and looking through the windows of ‘what if?’ She observes other peoples’ lives and daydreams about all of the possibilities, rather than actually existing in her own life. She can’t do normal things like go to a Christmas party or eat in a restaurant, so she watches everyone else do this like a silent observer. She watches someone move on without her and imagines if she had been right for them.

Life Lesson: Close your curtains!

“The Prophecy”

“Hand on the throttle

Thought I caught lightning in a bottle

Oh, but it’s gone again

And it was written

I got cursed like Eve got bitten”

She just wants to be loved!!! She doesn’t want money, just someone to come home to. It’s hard being that rich and famous! She feels like she is part of a prophecy as the end of her relationships are always fated to happen, a cycle that repeats itself no matter what she does. Still, she stays faithful and keeps trying to change it, asking, “Who do I have to speak to?” She knows that she isn’t a “greater woman” and compares herself to the cursed “Eve,” but she is TRYING HER BEST.

Life Lesson: Being rich, beautiful, and famous comes with its hardships, not that we’ll ever know.


“I was in my new house placing daydreams

Patching up the crack along the wall

I pass it and lose track of what I’m saying

‘Cause that’s where I was when I got the call”

Someone read “The Song of Achilles”!!! This song is about Cassandra, a princess and prophetess of Troy who was cursed to predict the future but never to be believed. The curse was supposedly given by Apollo when she rebuted his advances. Like when you turn down a dude and he calls you ugly in retaliation. Taylor IS Cassandra, as she sees what is happening but no one believes her. Was she silent or was she SILENCED?

“So, they filled my cell with snakes, I regret to say / Do you believe me now?” — her entire Reputation era was so snake coded and this might be a reference to Kanye and Kim (again). The snake motif was used against Taylor when everyone thought she lied, until the truth was leaked later. She feels she called out Kim and Kanye before everyone caught on to their ways.

“When it’s “Burn the bitch,” they’re shrieking / When the truth comes out, it’s quiet / It’s so quiet” — WHERE ARE YOU ALL NOW? Everyone was so loud about that first phone call, posting snakes all over her socials, but when the truth came out, it was quiet. No public apology, no acknowledgment of it. Everyone just moved on, everyone except her!!

Life Lesson: Taylor has never gotten over anything in her life, so it’s okay if you don’t either.


“And you said you’d come and get me, but you were twenty-five

And the shelf life of those fantasies has expired

Lost to the “Lost Boys” chapter of your life

Forgive me, Peter, please know that I tried”

Is Peter a real person? Is he a Peter Pan metaphor for Matty Healy? They almost dated in 2014 when he was still struggling with addiction, maybe she regrets not helping him and sticking around. It’s a song about timing, how fantasies expire, and we move on before we’re ready to. She’s reflecting on a figure from her past, and feeling like she betrayed them. She claims to want forgiveness and closure, but really she wants to know what the fuck went wrong. 

Life Lesson: Once a Lost Boy, always a Lost Boy.

“The Bolter”

“Splendidly selfish, charmingly helpless

Excellent fun ’til you get to know her

Then she runs like it’s a race

Behind her back, her best mates laughed

And they nicknamed her ‘The Bolter’”

We all thought Joe would be “The Bolter” for running away from cameras, but she is “The Bolter”!!! Not him!!! She was raised to run, to keep moving and growing and changing and wanting more. It’s a dramatic, messy relationship, maybe her time with Matty. “She sees the littlest leaks” and leaves, maybe Taylor looks for problems in her relationships. Maybe she’s like us and keeps seeing icks in everything they do (ankle socks ew).

“That as she was leaving / It felt like freedom” – The end of her relationship with Slow Joe was so hard but so worthwhile, and now she knows it wasn’t right, she had TO BOLT.

Life Lesson: Don’t worry, you’re not running away from your problems, you’re bolting!!


“Long may you roar

At your dinosaurs

You’re a just ruler

Covered in mud, you look ridiculous

And you have no idea”

She might be speaking to a child or to her younger self. It’s giving “Dear Reader.” Robin could be an innocent little bird, or Christopher Robin of Winnie the Pooh. She misses the gentleness and naivety of youth, how simple things were. “You have a favorite spot on the swing set,” you don’t have rent or the morning-after pill or 500 unread emails. Tay celebrates the magic of youth while also acknowledging the protection and support kids need to grow up safely.

Life Lesson: Life peaked at eight years old, and it’s all downhill now.

“The Manuscript”

“Now and then she rereads the manuscript

Of the entire torrid affair

They compared their licenses

He said, ‘I’m not a donor but

I’d give you my heart if you needed it’”

I am still convinced she is going to release a book at any moment just to screw with us. She’s reflecting on an inappropriate relationship with someone older, how she wanted to grow up quickly to be with them. Is it John Mayer? Is it a folklore-esque tale? Is it a cumulation of everyone she’s loved and loss? It’s like the older, sadder sister of “The Story of Us” and “long story short.” She seems ready to close a chapter on a heartbreak, or on heartbreak in general. Holding onto her heartbreak was a way not to let go of her lover, and she’s ready to do that now.

Life Lesson: Everything is for the plot.

Fleurine Tideman
Fleurine Tideman
Fleurine Tideman, a European-based copywriter. She’s interesting (cause she’s from Europe), speaks multiple languages (again, she's from Europe), and is mentally unhinged (despite socialized healthcare). You can find her European musings on Twitter @ByFleurine and her blog, Symptoms of Living, both of which are written to the sounds of unhinged Taylor Swift playlists.