Taylor Swift 'Folklore' Song Meanings

She's dropping a whole new album — surprise!

Taylor Swift 'Folklore' Song Meanings Getty

Thursday morning ended up being a big one for Taylor Swift fans. Out of nowhere, the singer announced that she's dropping a brand new, surprise album just hours later at midnight on Friday, July 24 — and at the same time, she released eight different album colors and the full tracklist, promising 16 new tracks to come. 

Normally, Swift's album releases are preceded by a whole lot of lead up: We're talking singles, music videos, and social media posts that give fans clues to what the aesthetic for the next era of her music will be. This time, it came out of left field, borne out of the months Swift has spent in isolation thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. 


Now that Folklore is here, what are Swift's new songs about?

Let's speculate on Taylor Swift Folklore song meanings:

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Swift shared that not all of the music is necessarily autobiographical.  



A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Jul 23, 2020 at 5:03am PDT

When Swift's album dropped, she shared on Instagram that while some of the songs were based on her own experiences, some of them were stories she'd dreamed up while quarantining.


"In isolation my imagination has run wild and this album is the result, a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness," she wrote. "Picking up a pen was my way of escaping into fantasy, history, and memory. I’ve told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder, and whimsy they deserve. Now it’s up to you to pass them down."

"Cardigan," "Betty," and "August" are all intertwined. 

During a YouTube chat with fans Wednesday night, Swift revealed that three of the album's tracks were an intertwined story about a high school love triangle, told from three different points of view. Now, it seems those songs are "Cardigan," "Betty," and "August," with "Cardigan" being told from the point of view of a girl who was cheated on, "Betty" from the point of view of the boy who did the cheating, and "August" from the point of view of the girl who helped him cheat. 


"My Tears Ricochet" could be emotional. 

Swift is known for always placing her most emotional song as the fifth track on her albums — including "All Too Well," which many fans consider one of her best (and saddest) songs ever. "My Tears Ricochet" definitely falls into that category, written about a heartbreak. It's just not clear if that heartbreak is something Swift has experienced herself recently. 

"The Last Great American Dynasty" is about her house's previous owners.

In the song, Swift sings about a woman named Rebekah who was the life of the party. Fans on Twitter discovered that it's actually about Rebekah Harkness, the previous owner of her Rhode Island home.

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"Illicit Affairs" may be about John Mayer. 

Though Swift's relationship with Mayer happened years ago, this song seems to be about a girl in a relationship with a much older man, leading some fans to believe that it's actually Swift looking back at what went wrong between them. 


"Invisible String" calls back to her relationship with Joe Jonas.  

In "Invisible String," Swift drops a few details about her relationship with Joe Alwyn — like his first visit to LA, and what their dates may have been like — but at the same time, she talks about her past relationships, including one with an ex who's now a father, which fans believe is Joe Jonas, since he's currently about to welcome his first child with Sophie Turner. 

"Cold was the steel of my axe to grind/ For the boys who broke my heart/ Now I send their babies presents," she sings.

Some of the track titles may hint to trouble in her personal life. 

With titles like "Illicit Affairs," "Exile," "This Is Me Trying," and "Invisible String," some are convinced that this album will be Swift's way of filling fans in on heartbreak she's experienced recently. Have she and Alwyn broken up? Many of these songs are already giving some pretty sad vibes based just on the titles. 


"Mad Woman" may call out Scooter Braun & Scott Borchetta .

As Swift's battles for her master recordings continue, "Mad Woman" seems to be about the way that Braun and Borchetta have made her feel as they've seemingly combined forces to take control of Swift's empire — especially with lyrics like "It's obvious that wanting me dead/ Has really brought you two together." 

"Epiphany" may be about frontline healthcare workers. 

Since Swift wrote this song during a pandemic, it's not surprising that the sacrifices of frontline workers has inspired her. It seems like "Epiphany," which starts out being about a war ends up being about healthcare workers helping those dying from coronavirus. "Something med school did not cover/ Someone's daughter, someone's mother / Holds your hand through plastic now," she writes. 

"Peace" could be about her relationship with Joe Alwyn. 

This song is about Swift being unable to bring her partner any peace because of her lifestyle in the public eye, and it's one of the songs on the album that is most obviously written from Swift's own feelings and experiences as she asks if she will be enough despite the chaos of her life.

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Nicole Pomarico is an entertainment and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in Cosmo, Us Weekly, Refinery29, and more.