Taylor Swift on Taylor Swift: The pop star explains inspiration behind ‘Tortured Poets’ song lyrics

Fans love decoding the many references Taylor Swift leaves in her song lyrics. For The Tortured Poets Department (and its surprise “double album” edition, The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology),she’s done a bit of explaining herself.

Many of Swift’s albums follow the “eras” of her life — and this one specifically captures the “tortured poetry” of a two-year period. She wrote on X that “the story isn’t mine anymore… it’s all yours.”

In the iHeartRadio Album Premiere Special with Taylor Swift, she shared the stories behind some of her new songs.

She wrote “Florida!!!” with Florence and the Machine after reflecting on how so many people on the crime investigation show Dateline “skip town” to go to the Sunshine State.

“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,’” Swift said. “So that was the jumping-off point behind, where would you go to reinvent yourself and blend in? ‘Florida!!!’”

Swift also said that “Fortnight,” the first single off the album, which also has a music video, reflects the common themes of the rest of the album: “fatalism, longing, pining away, lost dreams.”

“There are lots of very dramatic lines about, you know, life or death and ‘I love you, it’s ruining my life.’ These are very hyperbolic, dramatic things to say,” she explained. “But it’s that kind of album — it’s about a dramatic, artistic, tragic kind of take on love and loss.”

Swift said she wrote “Fortnight” from the perspective of someone realizing the American dream wouldn’t happen for them.

“You ended up not with the person you loved and now you have to just live with that every day, wondering what would’ve been, maybe seeing them out,” she said.

Lastly, Swift explained that she wrote the song “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys” from the perspective of a child’s broken toy — a favorite until it’s broken, and then the child loses interest.

“A lot of us are in relationships where we are so valued by a person in the beginning and then all of a sudden they break us, or they devalue us in their mind,” she explained. “And 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.’”

She added: “It’s kind of like a song about denial, really, so that you can live in this world where there’s still hope for a toxic broken relationship.”

Swift included even more cryptic messaging about The Tortured Poets Department and the love interests who may have inspired her lyrics in a poem titled “In Summation,” which was included with physical copies of the album.

“A smirk creeps onto this poet’s face/ Because it’s the worst men that I write best,” she wrote.

Time — and the powerful decoding power of Swifties — will tell if we find out what she might be alluding to here.


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