Taylor Swift Dissects the Meanings Behind 5 Songs on ‘The Tortured Poets Department’

In a new segment on Amazon Music, Taylor Swift broke down the meanings behind five songs off of her recent album The Tortured Poets Department. She gave track-by-track commentary on “Fortnight” with Post Malone, “Florida!!!” with Florence + the Machine, “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys,” and “Clara Bow.”

Videos by American Songwriter

Swift called the album “an anthology of new works that reflect events, opinions and sentiments from a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time — one that was both sensational and sorrowful in equal measure.” Additionally, she surprised fans by releasing 15 extra songs at 2 a.m., making The Tortured Poets Department a double album.

Some fans speculated that the album is about her relationship with actor Joe Alwyn, while others think it’s about her short-lived fling with The 1975 frontman Matty Healy. Here’s what Swift had to say about these five songs, in her own words. Additionally, listen along to her commentary on Amazon Music.

[RELATED: 3 Taylor Swift Songs That Almost Didn’t Make The Cut]

Taylor Swift Reveals the Meanings Behind 5 Songs on The Tortured Poets Department

“Fortnight” feat. Post Malone—Swift began by explaining that “Fortnight” exhibits many of the themes that run through the album. “One of [the themes] being fatalism — longing, pining away, lost dreams. I think that it’s a very fatalistic album in that there are lots of very dramatic lines about life or death,” Swift said.

She continued, “It’s about a traumatic, artistic tragic kind of take on love and loss … I always imagined that it took place in this American town where the American dream you thought would happen to you didn’t. You ended up not with the person that you loved and now you just have to live with that everyday, wondering what would’ve been, maybe seeing them out. And that’s a pretty tragic concept really so I was just writing from that perspective.”

“My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys”—This song is from the perspective of a child’s toy, Swift said, stating that being played with until you break is a lot like being in a relationship, “being somebody’s favorite toy until they break you and then don’t want to play with you anymore.”

She continued, “Which is how a lot of us are in relationships where we are so valued by a person in the beginning, and then all of the sudden, they break us or they devalue us in their mind. We’re still clinging on to ‘No no, no. You should’ve seen them the first time they saw me. They’ll come back to that. They’ll get back to that.’ So it’s kind of like a song about denial really so that you could live in this world where there’s still hope for a toxic, broken relationship.”

The Tortured Poet Explains Her Tortured Poetry

“Florida!!!” feat. Florence + The Machine—“I think I was coming up with this idea of what happens when your life doesn’t fit or the choices you’ve made catch up to you and you’re surrounded by these harsh consequences and judgment and circumstances did not lead you to where you thought you would be,” Swift explained. “And you just want to escape from everything you’ve ever known. Is there a place you could go?”

That place, for Taylor Swift, is apparently Florida. She explained that, when she watches the news, she wonders, where do criminals go to reinvent themselves? “They go to Florida,” she said. “They try to reinvent themselves, have a new identity, blend in.”

She then related that phenomena to relationships. “I think when you go through a heartbreak, there’s a part of you that thinks, ‘I want a new name, I want a new life. I don’t want anyone to know where I’ve been or know me at all,'” she said. “And so that was the jumping off point behind ‘Where would you go to reinvent yourself and blend in?’ Florida!”

“Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”—Taylor Swift explained that this song was one she wrote “in one of those moments when I felt sort of bitter about all the things we do to our artists as a society and as a culture.” She continued, “What do we do to our writers, and our artists, and our creatives? We put them through hell. We watch what they create, then we judge it, we love to watch artists in pain, often to the point where I think sometimes as a society we provoke that pain and we just watch what happens.”

According to Swift, this song was a true expression of how she feels about the way artists are treated and how she feels being in the public eye. She explained that she sometimes feels like “a witch in a haunted house,” and this song was a response to that.

The “Commentary” of the Song “Clara Bow”

“Clara Bow”—Swift described this song as a “commentary” on the music industry. “I used to sit in record labels trying to get a record deal when I was a little kid,” she began. “And they’d say, ‘you know, you remind us of…’ and then they’d name an artist, and then they’d kind of say something disparaging about her, ‘but you’re this, you’re so much better in this way or that way.’ And that’s how we kind of teach women to see themselves, as like you could be the new replacement for this woman who’s done something great before you.”

She continued, “[For the song] I picked women who have done great things in the past and have been these archetypes of greatness in the entertainment industry. Clara Bow was the first ‘it girl.’ Stevie Nicks is an icon and an incredible example for anyone who wants to write songs and make music. So I just thought it would be interesting to talk about how weird that feels if we really add up that that’s what we do as a society.”

Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp

Leave a Reply

Check Out 5 Cool Songs Featuring Peter Frampton on Guitar, in Honor of His Birthday and Rock Hall Induction

5 Cool Songs Featuring Peter Frampton on Guitar, in Honor of His Birthday and Rock Hall Induction