Album art for Taylor Swift's 'Tortured Poets Department'
Taylor’s Calling Back To Her Older Lyrics Throughout TTPD

The professor’s citing her previous works.

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Already, The Tortured Poets Department has taken over the internet (and Spotify and Apple Music). On the 31-track double album, TTPD: The Anthology, Swift shows off her songwriting skills to the fullest. But it’s not like the language in Swift’s latest collection was made completely from scratch.

Throughout the album, there are several lyrical references to other songs in Swift’s discography. For example, “So Long, London” is basically one long tribute to her previous work on Midnights and Lover.

Whether Swift is directly quoting herself or simply recycling the same metaphors, there are plenty of lyrics throughout TTPD that sound familiar to veteran Swifties.

Here are 22 Tortured Poet lyrics that seem to be calling back to other moments in Swift’s music.

“So Long, London” References “You’re Losing Me”

In “So Long, London,” Swift sings about the end of a relationship, touching on how she tried to revive it before giving up:

“I stoppеd CPR, after all, it's no use / The spirit was gonе, we would never come to / And I'm pissed off you let me give you all that youth for free.”

The lyrics seems to be a reference to her Midnights track, “You’re Losing Me.” In it, she sings, “I can't find a pulse / My heart won't start anymore / For you.”

At another point in the TTPD song, she sings about “getting color back into my face.” Meanwhile, in “You’re Losing Me,” she describes a similar affliction: “My face was gray, but you wouldn't admit that we were sick.”

“So Long, London” Has A “Glitch” Similarity
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“So Long, London” has other lyrics that match up, too. In the chorus, she sings, “For so long, London / Stitches undone / Two graves, one gun.”

This isn’t the first time Swift has used the metaphor of a “stitch” to describe a connection. In “Glitch” on Midnights, she uses the term to describe the beginning stages of a romantic connection:

“I think there's been a glitch, oh, yeah / Five seconds later, I'm fastening myself to you with a stitch, oh, yeah / And I'm not even sorry.”

TL:DR; Someone took a seam ripper to that stitch.

“So Long, London” References “False God”
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Yes, there’s another heartbreaking reference in “So Long, London.” In the track, she sings:

“You swore that you loved me, but where were the clues? / I died on the altar waitin' for the proof / You sacrificed us to the gods of your bluest days.”

For Reputation stans, this imagery might sound familiar — although much less sexy this time around. In “False God,” she sings, “The altar is my hips / Even if it's a false god / We'd still worship this love.” Oof.

“Peter” Has “Cardigan” Vibes
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Apparently, even Swift has dealt with men with Peter Pan syndrome — aka, a bad case of never growing up. “You said you were gonna grow up / Then you were gonna come find me,” she sings at one point in “Peter.”

Later, she makes the connection even clearer:

“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.”

Swift has sung about this character before. In “Cardigan” on Folklore, she sings, “I knew you / Tried to change the ending / Peter losing Wendy.”

“Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus” Quotes “Maroon”
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One of the clearest lyrical references Swift makes to her discography happens on “Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus.” In it, she sings:

“So if I sell my apartment / And you have some kids with an internet starlet / Will that make your memory fade from this scarlet maroon?”

Here, Swift is *almost* directly quoting her song “Maroon.” The lyrics go:

“The mark you saw on my collarbone, the rust that grew between telephones / The lips I used to call home, so scarlet, it was maroon.”
“Fresh Out The Slammer” Alludes To “Paper Rings”
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In “Fresh Out The Slammer,” Swift sings about the freedom that comes from leaving a relationship behind to pursue who you really want. In the track, she references rings that aren’t quite real:

“Ain't no way I'm gonna screw up now that I know what's at stake here / At the park where we used to sit on children's swings / Wearing imaginary rings.”

She’s made similar comparisons before. In Lover, her song “Paper Rings” has similar language: “I like shiny things, but I'd marry you with paper rings.”

“Down Bad” Has A Line From “New Romantics”
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Swift sings about being disappointed by a relationship (or situationship) in “Down Bad.” She questions the person who left her behind, “How dare you think it's romantic / Leaving me safe and stranded?”

It’s a departure from her interpretation on “New Romantics” from 1989. “Please leave me stranded / It's so romantic,” she sings in that 2014 track, romanticizing that same idea. Ten years later, it sounds like Swift is not as into that kind of behavior.

“Who’s Afraid Of Little Old Me?” Seemingly References “Mirrorball”
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Swift seems to be commenting on her life being available for public consumption in “Who’s Afraid Of Little Old Me?” Specifically, she compares her life to the trappings of a “circus.” She sings, “I was tame, I was gentle 'til the circus life made me mean / “Don't you worry, folks, we took out all her teeth.”

For Folklore fans, this is a familiar metaphor. In “Mirrorball,” she sings, “And they called off the circus, burned the disco down / When they sent home the horses and the rodeo clowns / I'm still on that tightrope.”

“Who’s Afraid Of Little Old Me?” Is Like A Continuation of “Mad Woman”

In “Mad Woman,” Swift sings about a witch hunt — noting how her enemies came together to hurt her. The lyrics go: “It's obvious that wanting me dead / Has really brought you two together.”

A similar scene plays out in “Who’s Afraid Of Little Me?” where Swift seems madder than ever, still referencing the painful witch hunt. She sings:

“If you wanted me dead, you should've just said / Nothing makes me feel more alive… So I leap from the gallows and I levitate down your street / Crash the party like a record scratch as I scream / Who’s afraid of little old me?”
“Imgonnagetyouback” Gives “Would’ve, Couldve, Shouldve” Energy
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Swift sings about reigniting an old flame in “Imgonnagetyouback” — but it doesn’t sound like a healthy decision. “Pick your poison, babe, I'm poison either way,” she sings in the song.

She’s referenced this kind of toxicity before. In “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” Swift sings, “If you tasted poison, you could've / Spit me out at the first chance.”

“Loml” Has References To “Illicit Affairs”
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In “Loml,” Swift sings about being duped by someone claiming to be ~the one~. “You said I'm the love of your life / About a million times,” she sings.

In “Illicit Affairs,” she uses similar language throughout the song:

  • “But it dies, and it dies, and it dies / A million little times.”
  • “But they lie, and they lie, and they lie / A million little times.”
  • “For you, I would ruin myself / A million little times.”
“The Alchemy” Has Ties To “Peace”
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Throughout her discography, Swift makes it clear she’s not a fan of clowns. “Call the amateurs and cut 'em from the team / Ditch the clowns, get the crown,” she sings in “The Alchemy.”

It’s an insult she’s used before. In “Peace,” she sings, “But there's robbers to the east, clowns to the west.” (Fans think this line is a Kanye West diss, BTW.)

“I Look In People’s Windows” References “Death By A Thousand Cuts”
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In “I Look In People’s Windows,” Swift sings about spying on others — comparing herself to “some deranged weirdo.” The lyrics go: “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?”

This isn’t the first time Swift has explored this concept. In that breakup track, she sings, “I look through the windows of this love / Even though we boarded them up.”

Bonus: In the All Too Well: The Short Film, Swift features a similar scene: an ex peering into a window of a bookstore as Swift plays the role of an author unveiling her book.

“I Can Do It With A Broken Heart” Has Similarities To “You’re On Your Own, Kid”
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Pulling yourself together despite all the chaos is something Swift has been exploring more and more in her songwriting. Listening to “I Can Do It With A Broken Heart” and “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” it’s clear that both tracks are centering on similar experiences.

To underscore that connection even more, Swift repeats the word “kid” in both songs. In “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” she sings, “You're on your own, kid / You always have been.”

Meanwhile, in “I Can Do It With A Broken Heart,” she uses “kid” to refer directly to herself: “'Cause I'm a real tough kid, I can handle my sh*t / They said, ‘Babe, you gotta fake it 'til you make it’ and I did.”

“Clara Bow” Mirrors “Nothing New”
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Swift touches on the fear of becoming passé in “Clara Bow.” Specifically, she seems concerned about how cyclical fame can be:

“You look like Taylor Swift / In this light / We're loving it. / You've got edge she never did / The future's bright... Dazzling.”

Swift has written about this concept before — being replaced by a newer, shinier version of herself. In “Nothing New,” Swift questions, “Lord, what will become of me / Once I've lost my novelty?”

Later in the song, she adds:

“I know someday I'm gonna meet her, it's a fever dream / The kind of radiance you only have at 17 / She'll know the way, and then she'll say she got the map from me / I'll say I'm happy for her, then I'll cry myself to sleep.”
“The Black Dog” Connects To “Daylight” & “Cardigan”
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Swift uses the imagery of smoke clearing in “The Black Dog.” She sings, “Six weeks of breathing clean air / I still miss the smoke.”

She’s used the same metaphor before in Lover and Folklore. In “Daylight,” Swift practically uses the same exact wording, just for a different perspective: “I wounded the good and I trusted the wicked / Clearing the air, I breathed in the smoke.”

Then, in “Cardigan,” Swift uses “smoke” to comment on the power of a relationship to “linger” long after it ended: “I knew you'd haunt all of my what-ifs / The smell of smoke would hang around this long.”

“The Bolter” Has A “Getaway Car” Metaphor
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Swift has *thoughts* on employing a cut-and-run philosophy in breakups. In “The Bolter,” she sings about someone who has made a pattern of running away:

“Started with a kiss / ‘Oh, we must stop meeting like this’ / But it always ends up with a Town Car speeding / Out the drive one evening.”

Swift used the same imagery in “Getaway Car” on Reputation. The song explores how she left one relationship by jumping into another one — and eventually sped away from that connection, too.

The song goes from “You were drivin' the getaway car / We were flyin', but we'd never get far” to “I'm in a getaway car / I left you in a motel bar.” Sooo, maybe Swift is the “bolter” in question?

“Cassandra” Explores The Witch Hunt Of “Mad Woman”
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There are more witchy vibes in “Cassandra,” harkening back to “Mad Woman.” In the track, Swift references the Greek myth of Cassandra, a prophet who was cursed with never being believed.

“When the first stone's thrown, there's screamin' / In the streets, there's a raging riot / When it's ‘Burn the b*tch,’ they're shrieking / When the truth comes out, it's quiet.”

This depiction mimics that of a witch hunt, similar to “Mad Woman.” Reminder: In the Folklore track, Swift sings, “Women like hunting witches, too / Doing your dirtiest work for you.”

“The Manuscript” Calls Back To “All Too Well” & “Dear John”
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In “The Manuscript,” Swift seemingly revisits her entire romantic past, including an age-gap relationship:

“In the age of him, she wished she was thirty.... Then she dated boys who were her own age... She thought about how he said since she was so wise beyond her years / Everything had been above board / She wasn't sure.”

Swift has previously sang about being too young for the men she dated. In “Dear John,” she questions, “Don't you think nineteen's too young?”

One album later, in “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” Swift wrote about a similar sitch: “You said if we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine / And that made me want to die.”

“The Tortured Poets Department” & “The Archer”
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In “The Tortured Poets Department,” Swift reflects on her internal monologue during a painful split. “And who's gonna hold you like me? / And who's gonna know you, if not me?” she asks in the track.

She uses a similar device in “The Archer,” letting repetitive questions convey internal anxiety: “Who could ever leave me, darling? / But who could stay?”

“Fortnight” Reflects “Hits Different”
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On Instagram Reels, a Swiftie pointed out ties between “Fortnight” and “Hits Different” — a video that Swift herself liked. A screenshot of the interaction on X seem to imply that the ties between “Fortnight” and “Hits Different” were on purpose.

BTW, “Hits Different” was the last song on Midnights, while “Fortnight” is the first track on TTPD.

In “Hits Different,” Swift sings, “Is that your key in the door? / Is it OK? Is it you? / Or have they come to take me away?”

On “Fortnight,” she picks up right where she left off: “I was supposed to be sent away / But they forgot to come and get me.”

“How Did It End?” Sounds Like “Daylight”
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There’s a subtle connection between “How Did It End?” and “Daylight.” In “How Did It End?,” Swift is reflecting on a painful split: “Lost the game of chance, what are the chances?”

“Daylight” touches on a similar premise. In it, she sings, “Luck of the draw only draws the unlucky.” The difference? In “Daylight,” she’s successfully made it to the other side of that hurt, while she’s still sitting in it in “How Did It End?”

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