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The Tortured Poets Department Bonus Tracks!

An Analysis Based on Theories of The Manuscript, The Bolter, The Albatross, and The Black Dog.
Bailey Sobral
Photo Courtesy of @Taylorswift on Instagram and college created by Bailey Sobral (9)

On February 4, 2024 The Grammys was held at area in Los Angeles, California. After many Grammys were given out to music artists, Taylor Swift won Best Pop Vocal Album and she made a huge announcement. She announced that a new album would be released on April 19, 2024. It is called the Tortured Poets Department. Since then, she has released many details about what this album will be like. 

On February 5, 2024– the day after she announced the album– she released the track list which included a total of sixteen tracks and one bonus track. The first bonus track– or file name as she’s titling it– is called “The Manuscript”. The Oxford Dictionary Definition of manuscript is “a book, document, or piece of music written by hand rather than typed or printed.” This has led Swifties, Taylor Swift fans, to believe this album was written by pen and pencil which through documentaries has been a common theme throughout the years. After doing some research I wasn’t able to find any information or theories about what this song would be like or about. Another thing released on this addition was on the bottom left corner on the page with a phrase. “I love you, it’s ruining my life.” 

Taylor Swift continued the Eras Tour on February 7th and she has been having many  Tortured Poets Department meetings during the Surprise song section of her tour (during this section she has also announced Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), 1989 (Taylor’s Version) , shown music videos and more). She announced ¾ of the “File Names” as she’s calling them at the Eras Tour. 

The next Bonus Track announced had a file name of “The Bolter”. According to the Oxford Dictionary Definition “a horse that bolts, or runs away”. This has been interpreted to be Taylor Swift finally running away from her toxic relationship with actor Joe Alwyn. After doing some research @thethriftyswiftie on tiktok talked about this track title. She discovered that “The Bolter” is also the name of a book about Lady Idina Sackvilla who was known as the bolter. In the 1920s a bolter was known as “a woman who broke the rules and fled their marriages”. Later in the video she stated “The concept of women in the 1920’s being known as bolters because they were brave enough to leave unhappy relationships in a time where women had absolutely no power in society”. This statement really stood out due to this album being known as the breakup album between Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn. The rumor is Alwyn wanted Swift to quit music so they could live a normal life and Swift refused.  After looking Lady Idina Sackvilla up, she noticed that the aesthetic of Clara Bow and Idina Sackvilla matched the aesthetic Swift went for when she announced this album.  The text on the bottom corner stated “You don’t get to tell me about sad.”

The 3rd File name is called “The Albatross”. The Oxford Dictionary Definition is  “a very large oceanic bird related to the shearwaters, with long narrow wings. Albatrosses, some species of which have wingspans greater than 10 feet (3.3 m), are found mainly in the southern oceans, with three kinds in the North Pacific.” Albatrosses fly over the ocean for six years and that’s how long Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn were together. This song has been the most analyzed by the Swiftie Community and after some research @ThrowbackTaylor on Twitter discussed that Swift sang “Coney Island” from Evermore and in 1903 a fire was started in Coney Island by an Albatross hotel employee and as stated in the tweet “…of the unrequited love at the west end of? THE BOWERY!!!!!!!!!!” During the Eras Tour Swift burns down the Lover House which is a tie to the Albatross Hotel burning down on the Bower. On this cover the words in the bottom left corner stated “Am I allowed to cry?”. 

Finally the last file name is “The Black Dog”. The definition according to is “a way of referring to feelings of depression (= great sadness and lack of energy)”. This has led Swifties to analyze what this could mean. According to @lysss117 on tiktok after doing some research she found some interesting things about this album title. The black dog, symbolic for depression, can also be symbolic for revenge. She found a Black Dog Folklore Myth. It’s about a black dog with a chain around its neck and snakes peeking out of his head and a prision. It’s about a 13th (Taylor Swift’s lucky number) century famine in London (Joe Alwyn was raised in London). “Prisoners resulted in dinging on each other as a source of food” she stated. Many people were targeted as guards pretended it wasn’t happening. One prisoner was thrown in and he was a scholar so during that night the other prisoners spotted the scholar walking around and he transformed into a black dog and began getting revenge on all of the prisoners and guards who betrayed him. The black dog tracked down every one of them. She looked at the cover of the “Black Dog Folklore” and the CD for The Tortured Poets Department with the Bonus Track “The Black Dog” she found a parallel. The shading on the top corner of the book and on the CD were very similar. The text on the bottom left corner stated “Old habits die screaming”. 

I attempted to line up all of the text on the bottom corner and I couldn’t find anything. There are rumors that they are lyrics from whichever bonus track they match up with. At the very beginning she gave us a lyric, we don’t know which song or anything about this lyric but it states, “And so I enter into evidence. My tarnished coat of arms. My muses acquired like bruises. My talismans and charms. The tick, tick, tick of love bombs, My veins of pitch black ink.” At the bottom of the page states “All’s fair in love and poetry… Sincerely The Chairman of The Touchered Poets Department.” We just have to wait until April 19th, 2024 to discover where these lyrics come from or how all of the bonus tracks are!

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