My Opinions on Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department”

Episode Transcript

Julia Landauer 0:04 Hello, everybody, and welcome back to another episode of if I'm Honest with Julia Landauer. I hope you're doing well. I got back from a bachelorette trip in Miami this weekend. And let me tell you, it was exactly what the doctor ordered. We had a beautiful rooftop dinner on Friday that just had immaculate vibes and the weather was delightful. The food was delicious. The entertainment It was very cool involved flame and dancers. And we danced on stage it was really cool. And then we went to the beach on Saturday, which was so needed my my skin needed to feel the warmth of the sun, I needed to have an attempt to not be so blinding with my bare belly, because that has not seen son in a very long time. And my natural state is fairly fair skin. So all good there. And if I'm so honest with you, I don't typically love going to Florida, but this was just so perfect. It was such a great weekend really grateful I got to do it. And yeah, I think that's probably my last bachelorette for a while at this point. I've got one or two other people who if they get married, I will probably be on their bachelorette trips. But otherwise, I think I might be rounding out this very short chapter of my life. Not many of my besties had bachelorette parties, at least not that I'm aware of. No, but they didn't partially due to COVID and all that stuff. But yeah, it's, it's done. And this timing was particularly perfect for this Bachelorette, because the bride to be is also a fellow Swiftie and we did not listen to her new album on this trip. They were not the same vibes. Not sure if she's listened to it yet. But since we are several days out from the release of the tortured poets department and the anthology, which is a double album 31 songs, several hours, it was a lot. I wanted to talk about it I wanted to give a quick, fun punchy assessment because I am a diehard Swiftie, I'm not at the level where I think she can do no wrong like that's not I like to keep people honest, obviously. And with that being said, I was really looking forward to this album, I had heard the murmurings of reasons for the breakup with Joe Alwyn involving cheating other women other priorities. And I've recognized that part of the reason I relate to Taylor Swift, on some level, obviously very different. But she's also a woman in her early mid 30s. And we are of the same generation. And so when she's going through something, I feel like I can put myself in those shoes to certain extent. For example, She and Joe were together for six years before they broke up. And at this point, I have known and been with Ben for almost six years, and it is a really substantial time in a woman's life in her late 20s, early 30s. And too, I can I can only imagine kind of some of the feelings when thinking you might be spending forever with this person and you're in prime, you know, having kid years and, and all of that. And if that's something that you want it like obviously we a lot of us feel that pressure and so I can appreciate the toughness of going through a breakup regardless, like a breakup is tough. And then especially in this time of life. So with all of that back to the album. I've been looking forward to the storytelling. Part of what I appreciate most about Taylor Swift is her storytelling. I do enjoy a lot of the music. I don't love absolutely every single song, but I do really love her storytelling. I love her wordplay. I love how she twist traditional little sayings and makes them her own. And so with this one I was like all right, we've got this personal drama, we've got this really incredible storytelling and so how's the album gonna be? So we have it now. We're ready to dissect it. Since Red came out I have a process for listening to new Taylor Swift album. I have never listened to them right on release at midnight I don't stay up for them. I don't like to stay up till midnight anyway and so it's usually a next morning thing. And before I was working the way this looked is that kind of with my coffee I would listen to the album in full once through no stopping just listen to it through and I would note down which songs particularly caught my attention or that I really liked on first listen. And then I go back and re listen to those songs that I had marked down I pay close attention to the lyrics for the fun lines. And then after I go back and re listen, if there are questions I have a references I Have, that's when I searched like some of the meanings behind the lyrics. But for some for a really clear example of one of these moments that I was like, oh my goodness, this woman is clever, was on folklore. And I remember I believe it came out July something in 2020, we were getting ready to move to our current house. And I'm listening to it drinking my coffee and the last great American dynasty came on. And she's talking about how Rebekah Harkness was the the heroine of that story and how she was the rule breaker. And on my second time, listening more closely, the bridge really knocked me off my feet, because she's singing about Rebekah Harkness and her experience in the town and at that house, and the way that the bridge goes is they say she was seen on occasion pacing the rock staring out at the midnight sea, and in a feud with her neighbor, she stole his dog and dyed at key lime green. 50 years is a long time holiday house sat quietly on that beach free of women with madness, their men and bad habits. And then it was bought by me. And I was like, Oh, my goodness, Taylor, you're so clever. It was so fun to be going through this historical play by play of how this house came to be. And this woman in history, who's a very real figure, and then Taylor Swift owns that house. I mean, that was so cool. And it was just kind of putting together all these pieces, I thought it was incredibly clever, and brought in this modern cultural relevance to this historical house. And I really feel like Taylor broke the fourth wall with listeners with that it was my first real feeling of that. And then the other little bit, that's a fun change throughout the song as she changes the last line of the chorus from, she had a marvelous time ruining everything to I had a marvelous time ruining everything. It's so clever. So anyway, after listening more closely to the lyrics of any given album, I then add those songs into my playlist rotations. So this year, and this album release was a little harder because it was over two hours, I was working, and so I had to wait later into Friday to when I could listen to it. But for a very quick summary, I really enjoyed a lot of it. I really enjoyed a lot of the tortured poets department. There are a few songs that I really loved. I felt pretty emotionally heavy. At the end of listening to it, it is it is sad, it is melancholy. And I wouldn't say that musically, it's my favorite album, if it's done really nicely with a lot of songs, but I do kind of feel like some of them become a little indistinguishable. And I don't know, if I feel like 31 songs felt like 31 songs I it's just so tough, because like damned if you do damned if you don't, at the end of normal length album, I feel like oh, it'd be so cool to get some more songs, and then get some more songs. And it's, you know, not feeling as satisfied as I kind of hoped I was but that's okay. In the end, I do feel that I got the lyrical storytelling that I had hoped for. So that's a quick synopsis. But there were three songs that I really loved. And that's what I want to talk about in a little more depth today. And they are the tortured poets department, So long, London, and I can do it with a broken heart. With the tortured poets department. My first thing that I noticed was that there were so many names dropped from Patti Smith, who I became a fan of after reading her book, just kids, which is her perspective on her love story with Robert Mapplethorpe, I just it moved me when I read this and I got very emotionally invested in her life. And she is obviously an incredible poet, and Dylan Thomas who I had to look up but he was apparently a pretty self destructive romantic poet. And let me tell you, I had thought this song had been about Joe all when throughout most of it, and then she references Lucy and Jack and I assumed that Jack was Jack Antonoff, which is her friend, but I had to look up who Lucy was. And it turns out that Lucy is Matty Healy's friend. And so yeah, it was probably not about Joe. I'm just not entirely sure. But there was a lyric that really pinged my heart. And that was, I'm not going to sing this. I don't fully memorize it, and I'm not a good singer. So anyway, it says at dinner, you take my ring off my middle finger and put it on the one that people put wedding rings on, and that's the closest I've come to my heart exploding. Oh my god, Taylor, the vulnerability in that lyric is next level and I think it's partially impactful for me because we know that she wants to find true love eternal A lot of work she wants to find her person. And truth be told, I agonized for her. That, you know, she thought she was probably going to get it and then didn't get it, especially when I thought the song was about Joe all in eight. It's just like, oh, that's, that's so tough. And, yeah, but I totally get it that, that you get excitement that you think you're gonna get engaged, and it didn't happen. But one thing I don't love about this, I don't love the I don't love how I feel when I hear these types of lyrics. But I kind of don't love when she declares that no one else will love or hold or hug or kiss or cuddle or whatever her exes the way she does, the line in the song is who's going to hug you as much as me no one, it feels a little manipulative to me. And I don't love that. And I've noticed it in a few other songs, but I just you know, if you don't work out, then it means that it wasn't meant to be and so someone else is gonna love you better than your ex did, someone else is gonna hug you kiss you hold you better than your ex did. And it's probably gonna happen for them too. So, hope that's not too controversial. But that's kind of how I feel about that one. The next song that I want to dive into a little bit is so long London. Now first, the beat and the melody for the song were excellent. I was bopping around to it, I thought that it had a really great and pretty different flow from what I normally hear from her. And I really appreciated the word play with so long comma London, because the emphasis was on different parts of that phrase with each use, for example, so long London, as in goodbye, London, or, I've liked you so long London, like I've liked you for a long time, it was slightly different for each use. And I just thought that was really cool and clever. But there was a specific lyric that stood out to me in the second chorus, I believe, where she says, I stopped CPR. After all, it's no use, the spirit was gone, we were never come to and I'm pissed off you let me give you all that youth for free. This goes back to being really impactful for me because again, in a similar time period, like if you realize that someone wronged you, or that it didn't work out, and you're as if you're someone who wants kids and you realize that, okay, you thought you might have been having kids with this person, and you don't anymore. And you've essentially like given them some prime years, and it's for free because it didn't, you know, end up the way they wanted. I get it like, I would be so upset for many, many, many reasons. But like so upset if, you know, suddenly Ben and I didn't work out now, right? And, and it goes beyond losing the person that goes beyond losing the life you were expecting. But just as a woman, it's very real in the biological time clock. And so I that was how I interpret that it might have been getting an upset for giving her use and fun years in your 20s or whatever by that definitely struck a chord. And the other thing with this song that I thought was pretty poignant was that it reminds us that in a breakup, a lot of times, we lose more than just the person. And I thought about this in particular, because she says I'm mad as hell because I love this place. And she had established some roots in London and had to move on. But it translates into other areas too. You know, you might love your ex's family, or friends or kind of some things that you learned with them that are now going to be forever different. And it's pretty monumentous when you think about how much of your world gets disrupted when you go through a breakup. And a breakup is something it's in a category of things that for me are so interesting, because they are so so ordinary, like they happen all the time to everyone. But they're also so extraordinary for the person going through it. And I think that's the case when you get married when you break up when you have kids when someone you love dies, like everyone, for the most part experiences this and it's so normal, and it totally blows up your world sometimes for the good sometimes the bad. So yeah, that falls into that category. The third song that I want to jump into a little bit and the final one that we'll talk about in more detail is I can do it with a broken heart. This song upon listening to it like obviously she's She's kicking butt with a broken heart. And it really reminded me overall of Barenaked Ladies songs because there are quite a few Barenaked Ladies songs where it feels really upbeat. It feels really positive. The music is Happy. And they are talking about some dark, sad, scary stuff. And so it's kind of this, this kind of juxtaposition of two very different emotions coming across on a song. And that's kind of the vibe I got from this song. And I found the melody really, really easy to bop along to. And there was a lyric where she says, all the pieces of me shattered, as the crowd was chanting more, I was grinning, like I'm winning, I was hitting my marks, because I can do it with a broken heart. And then she continues, I'm so depressed, I act like it's my birthday every day. I'm so obsessed with him. But he avoids me like the plague. I cry a lot. But I am so productive. It's an art. And it's so upbeat, so jolly, and yet she's being absolutely destroyed, and she's depressed. But the show must literally go on. There are a few things came to mind with this song. So one, having this context of how she was feeling when I saw her in concert, during the eras tour in May of 2023, makes the performance even more impressive. And I feel like, you know, performers will, will go on regardless of what's going on in their life, for the most part, and it's part of the job. But it gives you a new appreciation for how much she was balancing for this great tour. The other thing that I appreciated is that she referenced hitting her marks. And I know that that's not a very unique mantra to have. But it's a mantra that I've had for my racing and for life, you know, when things get overwhelming when things get get challenging to just focus on hitting your marks. And so I like to think that she is also incorporating this mentality of when the shit is hitting the fan. And when you are struggling, it is important to remember to hit your marks. Obviously, she might have mentioned in totally different way. But I took that. And the last thing that I appreciated about this song was that it reminds us that we never know what's going on below the surface of someone's life. Right? We never know what someone's going through what they're dealing with, what their mindset is how they're doing mentally. And it reminds me of what Danielle Trotta said, as my guest last week on the podcast when she said Don't let someone's outsides affect your insides. This is a continuation of that, that we only see what we see. And everyone has their struggles, maybe some are more tangibly major than others. But we all we all struggle from time to time, and we all have to find our way to get through it. And this was just a very clear and explicit example of doing just that was a fun, upbeat melody. All righty, so I didn't particularly care for the whole song I'mgonnagetyouback. But I must point out the random lyric that I loved it she says I'm an Aston Martin, you steered straight into a ditch. For those of you who are not familiar, there were rumors circulating a little while back that we're linking her to Fernando Alonso before it was public that she was dating Travis Kelce. And he Fernando Alonso drives for the Aston Martin Formula One team. So obviously we've got our overlap between Taylor Swift and motorsports. And I just liked that that was referenced. I would assume it was on purpose but but maybe not. And then my my final random thoughts about the album, in the song The Black Dog, she opens up by describing that she can still see her exes location on his phone and can't help but watch as it moves, and she sees where he goes. And I just thought that was a really interesting like very clear reference to the times that we're living in because so many of us know that pang to the gut when you kind of see where they are if you have snippets of information about their whereabouts or being or you see that they're in the same story, like we all know, so clearly what that feels like. And it's a very modern reference that I wonder, you know, would older generations know or you know, what will future generations think of those specific references? I also am curious if Joe Alwyn will listen to any of this album. Another random thought is that so for fortnight which features Post Malone I feel like Post Malone in fortnight is like Lana Del Rey in snow on the beach, which is practically nonexistent. I do really like the chorus in down bad I'm very impressed with how much writing she did. And as I weigh this in kind of my favorite album so to start my favorite Taylor Swift albums right now are folklore Midnights red and 1989 especially with some of those vault tracks. I would say that this is underneath those and I'm not quite sure entirely where it ranks I need to do some more listening but that is a quick run through of My debrief on Taylor Swift's the torture poets department. I would love to hear what you think I would love to hear what songs you like how you feel about the lyrics for this one, kind of what you thought of 31 songs, leave a comment on my social post or leave a comment in review on the podcast. If you liked this episode, I hope that you'll share with a friend get that Taylor Swift conversation started, let me know if you agree or disagree with me. We'd love to hear that. And as always, thank you for letting me be honest with you and I look forward to seeing you next week.