All The Cities Mentioned In Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department”

From London to New York, TTPD takes us inside the cities that made an impact on Swift’s most recent storytelling.

It’s often said that Taylor Swift has an album for every kind of person. From her beginnings in country to her immersion in pop-rock then to her forays into indie, it’s practically impossible not to find a lyric to connect with. “The Tortured Poets Department” (TTPD) is the new compilation released by the singer and already promises to contain many of those songs that make us think: Where was she when she wrote this?

Her new songs are not only a journey around all the emotions and experiences of her previous two years, but through those places in which Swift left a bit of her soul and essence. We bring you all the locations mentioned in a few of the 31 titles in TTPD so you can fully immerse yourself in her story, although surely you already know some of them…all too well.

Location: Chelsea Hotel

Track: “The Tortured Poets Department”

Hotel Chelsea
FACEBOOK Hotel Chelsea

If you’ve been counting down the days until the release of the new album, you are probably aware that this one owes its name to a WhatsApp group that Joe Alwyn – Swift’s most recent ex-boyfriend – shared with Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott (yes, the hot priest.)

Therefore, it was expected that the title track would be dedicated to her former partner of six years; nevertheless, some details of the lyrics seem to make a clear reference to Matty Healy, with whom Swift had a brief romance after ending her six-year relationship.

In the song, she sings, “You’re not Dylan Thomas; I’m not Patti Smith. This ain’t the Chelsea Hotel; We’re modern idiots”.

Swift makes a comparison between herself and her lover among Dylan Thomas, one of the most well-known British playwrights of the 20th century, and Patti Smith, a visual artist and revolutionary singer from the 1970s punk era. Both are iconic figures in the artistic landscape of the last decades and, as such, had to have an emblematic home, which turned out to be the Chelsea Hotel.

But they are not the only ones who temporarily lived in the famous Manhattan hotel, as it has also hosted others like Mark Twain, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Andy Warhol. Probably, by providing these references, Swift aims to express her desire to not become the self-destructive, wounded, and emotionally unstable artists that the two “tortured poets” represent.

Location: London

Tracks: “So Long, London” and “The Black Dog”

The Black Dog
FACEBOOK The Black Dog

The city featured in “London Boy,” in which Swift declares love to her English boyfriend, reappears in “So Long, London,” the fifth track on TTPD. It has become tradition for the singer to place emotionally vulnerable themes in that specific placement of the track list in every album, and in this case, it has not been different.

“So Long, London” is a farewell letter to Joe Alwyn and a reflection of all the reasons behind the breakup, including Swift’s sadness for not being able to save a relationship increasingly drowning in darkness.

The desperate goodbye to the capital of the United Kingdom could not be missed, as it was her second home for six years. As we learned in “London Boy,” she and Alwyn lived together in an apartment near Hampstead Heath; however, in the new version, we discover that this house is no longer a safe place for her.

“I left all I knew; You left me at the house by the Heath.”

On the other hand, “The Black Dog” also seems to refer to Alwyn’s hometown, specifically to the pub “The Black Dog Freehouse,” where, according to the singer, her ex-boyfriend might have had an affair with another girl.

“And so I watch as you walk into some bar called The Black Dog.”

Location: Florida

Track: “Florida!!!”

The Tortured Poets Department
Photo by Taylor Swift Instagram

Swift and Florence + The Machine blend their voices in “Florida!!!”, one of the liveliest songs on the album and dedicated to the state which the singer identifies as an ideal site to make a fresh start.

Specifically, it refers to Destin, a beach city located on the Gulf of Mexico known for its white sandy beaches and emerald green sea. Although it is true that people often refer to it as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” we highly doubt that fishing was the main attraction of the town for Swift.

“So you work your life away just to pay for a time-share down in Destin”

“I’ve got some regrets; I’ll bury them in Florida”

It should also be mentioned that Florida comes up again in the first track of the album, “Fortnight,” where Swift and Post Malone depict, “Another fortnight lost in America; Move to Florida; Buy the car you want; But it won’t start up.”

Location: Manhattan

Tracks: “Clara Bow” and “The Bolter”

The Tortured Poets Department
Photo by Taylor Swift Instagram

In 1905, Clara Bow was born in Brooklyn. She eventually became an actress known for several works such as Wings (1927,) It (1927,) and The Sin of Being Young Again. The silent film star suffered from mental health issues throughout her life, stemming from her experience with fame, a tumultuous love and family life. More than a century later, Swift would write a song in her honor, setting the plot in Manhattan.

The story narrates a young woman who, after achieving success in New York, is plunged towards a superficial and dishonest world, where she is turned into a product only cherished if it conforms to the standards demanded by public opinion.

“No one in my small town thought; I’d see the lights of Manhattan; This town is fake but; You’re the real thing.”

Swift identifies with Bow by considering that there are certain parallels in their own stories, as revealed in the last lines of the song:

“You look like Taylor Swift in this light; We’re lovin’ it.”

It’s not the first time the young woman has made references to The Big Apple in her music, as the city that remains to be one of her homes. Examples include the iconic “Welcome to New York” to many others like “False God,” her discography encompasses a clear influence from this city.

In “The Bolter,” which is already considered the “Getaway Car” of TTPD due to the similarity in the plot, she likewise speaks of New York, specifically Central Park:

“When it’s all roses, portrait poses Central Park Lake in tiny rowboats.”

Location: Los Angeles

Track: “Clara Bow”

The Tortured Poets Department
Photo by Taylor Swift Instagram

Who hasn’t dreamt at least once of succeeding in Los Angeles? Its iconic “Hollywood” sign, tall palm trees, and the stars on the Walk of Fame are synonymous of triumph, and Clara Bow knows it. Though, just like with New York, Swift is aware that in L.A., not everything that glitters is gold, she can’t wait for the people in her small town to see her reach the top.

“No one in my small town thought I’d meet these suits in LA.”

The verse also recalls “Mean,” the sixth track on the Speak Now album where Swift addresses haters by proving revenge in the form of success.

You can stream “The Tortured Poets Department” on Spotify and all music streaming platforms today.

Aitana Esteban Rando

Aitana, born and raised in Spain, loves exploring new places and different cultures while staying true to her roots. She's on a mission to visit every spot that stole her heart in books and movies. Fluent in Spanish and English, she's now learning Arabic. For her, speaking different languages is the key to understand the world's beautiful diversity.

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