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The Anthology’? Fans investigate the personal lyrics.

Mere hours into The Tortured Poets Department release, Swifties swarmed social media to dissect and decode all 31 tracks on Taylor Swift’s surprise double album. Across the many songs, dedicated listeners have highlighted Swift’s parallel lyrics and references to past and present flames. While the “Fortnight” singer has shared the inspirations for some of her tracks, she’s remained relatively mum on who each one is actually about. Luckily, Swifties make for some of the best detectives.

As theorized by fans, these are some of Swift’s most telling lyrics — along with their rumored muses — from The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology.

Joe Alwyn

Track 5: “So Long, London”

Key lyrics: You swore that you loved me, but where were the clues? / I died at the altar waitin’ for the proof

How it’s being interpreted: When Swift debuted The Tortured Poets track list, “So Long, London” quickly emerged as one of the album’s most anticipated songs for two reasons: Not only did it seem like a blatant nod to Swift’s ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn, but it’s also the fifth track on the album. (Swift previously admitted to always putting a “really honest, emotional, vulnerable” song as track five.)

According to fans, the track alludes to the cause of their breakup: Alwyn didn’t want to marry her. “Long” takes on three meanings: the length of time they were together, the length of time she stayed despite feeling unloved and her final goodbye to him.

A prominent Swiftie creator on TikTok named Ginnie, who has more than 290,000 followers, noted the song contains a ton of marriage imagery and even includes the sound of wedding bells. “She’s literally saying, ‘I sacrificed myself on a wedding altar,’ which makes it sound like that truly was the reason why they broke up. They couldn’t settle that fundamental difference,” she explained in a video.

Track 12: “LomL”

Key lyrics: You shit-talked me under the table / Talkin’ rings and talkin’ cradles / I wish I could unrecall / How we almost had it all

How it’s being interpreted: While some fans believe this track is about the 1975 frontman Matty Healy, who Swift was linked to in May 2023, others think the lyrics speak more to her relationship with Alwyn.

The presumed references to wedding rings and baby cradles are thought to give additional context to Alwyn’s inability to commit to forever with Swift. One creator commented on Ginnie’s TikTok video about the track, “Felt like [Alwyn] was gaslighting her into thinking he was the love of her life but she wasn’t his.”

Track 13: “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”

Key lyrics: Breaking down, I hit the floor / All the pieces of me shattered as the crowd was chanting, “More”

How it’s being interpreted: Swift and Alwyn broke up around the start of her 2023 “The Eras Tour.” Swifties, including TikToker Layten Kaid, believe this track encompasses Swift’s need to cope with the breakup while performing at shows across the country. The Spotify clip for this song is also a montage of Swift performing during “The Eras Tour,” which further fuels this theory.

Track 21: “How Did It End?”

Key lyrics: The empathetic hunger descends / We’ll tell no one / Except all of our friends / But I still don’t know / How did it end?

How it’s being interpreted: Recognized as the fifth track of The Anthology, “How Did It End?” is believed to be another look into Swift and Alwyn’s relationship. One fan tweeted a theory that the song suggests that their love “just faded with time.” Another believes the track is more about Swift processing the loss of a great love while still respecting Alwyn’s privacy: “The production is beautiful and the message too. …Taylor saying she won’t tell us how [she] and Joe broke up only to her friends but she herself doesn’t quite know how it all fell apart.”

Matty Healy

Track 2: “The Tortured Poets Department”

Key lyrics: You left your typewriter at my apartment / Straight from the tortured poets department / I think some things I never say / Like, “Who uses typewriters anyway?”

How it’s being interpreted: In a 2018 interview with GQ, Healy listed his typewriter as one of the 10 things he can’t live without. A TikToker named Michelle, who is a self-described Swiftie and the 1975 fan, believes this is a direct reference to the frontman. In the track, Swift also mentions a woman named Lucy, who other fans believe to be Lucy Dacus of the band boygenius.

Track 14: “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”

Key lyrics: Was any of it true? / Gazing at me starry-eyed / In your Jehovah’s Witness suit

I don’t even want you back, I just want to know / If rusting my sparkling summer was the goal

How it’s being interpreted: Fans were quick to assume this track is about Healy from the “Jehovah’s Witness” line alone. (Healy often wears a black suit while performing with his band.) These lyrics seem to support this theory. Swift and Healy’s whirlwind romance was over by June. “Notice that she put emphasis on just the summer,” TikToker Farron Barneycastle said in a video. “I think the indifference here definitely shows that she’s not looking at a relationship that she cherished.”

Track 17: “The Black Dog”

Key lyrics: In The Black Dog, when someone plays the Starting Line / And you jump, but she’s too young to know this song

How it’s being interpreted: As pointed out by Swifties on Twitter, Healy is a big fan of the 2000s pop-punk band the Starting Line. During their April and May 2023 shows, the 1975 performed a cover of the group’s 2002 track “The Best of Me.” The “she” in question could be Healy’s new rumored girlfriend, 26-year-old model and musician Gabbriette Bechtel.

Track 15: “The Alchemy”

Key lyrics: 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 runnin’ over to me

How it’s being interpreted: Hearing a song chock-full of football references, Swifties immediately identified NFL tight end Travis Kelce, who is also Swift’s boyfriend, as this track’s muse. In early 2024, Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. Swift was in the audience and the pair were photographed embracing after the game. TikTok user Daria Bensinger also noted that Kelce’s jersey number is 87. Eight and seven added together is 15 and “The Alchemy” is the 15th track on TTPD.

Track 22: “So High School”

Key lyrics: Are you gonna marry, kiss or kill me? / It’s just a game, but really / I’m bettin’ on all three for us two

How it’s being interpreted: The track includes what fans think is a nod to a resurfaced 2016 clip of Kelce playing a game of “Kiss, Marry, Kill” during an interview. While Kelce reveals that he’d kiss Swift, these lyrics seem to articulate the pop star’s hope that they’ll also get married. With lines like “Cheeks pink in the twinkling lights” and”You knew what you wanted and, boy you got her,” fans think Swift is alluding to all the times she attended Kelce’s football games and that he was clear about wanting to pursue her romantically.



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