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What Taylor Swift seemingly reveals about relationship with Matty Healy on ‘The Tortured Poets Department’

Will the "tattooed golden retriever" please stand up?
/ Source: TODAY

Taylor Swift doesn't talk about her personal life; she sings about it.

“I don’t talk about my personal life in great detail. I write about it in my songs, and I feel like you can share enough about your life in your music to let people know what you’re going through,” Swift told Glamour in 2012.

So who, exactly, might she singing about in her latest album, “The Tortured Poets Department”? The title of the album alone had fans drawing comparisons to the "Tortured Man Club" once referenced by actor Joe Alwyn, Swift's boyfriend of six years. News of their split first broke in April 2023.

But upon initial listens to the album at midnight on April 19, Swifties think she may be singing about Matty Healy, the lead singer of The 1975, on the album.

Revisit our live coverage of the release of "The Tortured Poets Department."

Swift and Healy appeared to be in a short-lived romance in the spring of 2023, following her split with Alwyn. She confirmed neither her breakup with Alwyn nor her relationship with Healy.

Taylor Swift, Matty Healy
Getty Imagesa

Since then, she has begun dating Travis Kelce. Both Kelce and Swift have spoken openly about their relationship.

What happened between Matty Healy and Taylor Swift?

Rumors of a romance between Swift and Healy blossomed in May 2023, weeks after Swift and Alwyn were said to have broken up. It wasn't the first time, either: Headlines speculating the two musicians were together date back to 2014.

But last spring's pairing was more overt. They were spotted holding hands in New York in May. Swift and Healy also appeared to be communicating to each other onstage, per a TikTok compilation of two concerts.

During a May 3 concert in Manila, Philippines, Healy looked into a camera and seemingly mouthed the words, “This is about you, you know who you are. I love you.”

While performing in Nashville days later, Swift looked into a camera and seemed to mouth the same message. Healy happened to be attending that show, standing in the crowd with opening act Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, who also sings with Bridgers in the musical group Boygenius.

Swift also attended The 1975's concert on Jan. 12, 2023, in London, per Billboard, singing "Anti-Hero" and a cover of The 1975's "The City."

Healy's divisive status in the pop culture world came under scrutiny while he was linked to Swift. He is known to kiss fans onstage, and his other antics include eating raw meat during shows.

Then, after Ice Spice collaborated with Swift on a remix of “Karma” in May 2023, Healy's past comments about the rapper came to light.

In February 2023, Healy laughed and joined in on racist jokes about Ice Spice in a since-deleted episode of “The Adam Friedland Show.”

Healy publicly apologized to Ice Spice at a concert in New Zealand in April. In September 2023, the rapper told Variety that she and the rocker are "good" after he apologized "a bunch of times." Healy's representative didn't respond to NBC News' requests for comment at the time.

Healy doubled down on his provocative nature in a May 2023 New Yorker profile, admitting to "baiting" fans "a little."

"Nobody is sitting there at night slumped at their computer, and their boyfriend comes over and goes, ‘What’s wrong, darling?’ and they go, ‘It’s just this thing with Matty Healy.’ That doesn’t happen,” the musician said. “If it does, you’re either deluded or you are, sorry, a liar. You’re either lying that you are hurt, or you’re a bit mental for being hurt. It’s just people going, ‘Oh, there’s a bad thing over there, let me get as close to it as possible so you can see how good I am.’ And I kind of want them to do that, because they’re demonstrating something so base level,” he said.

Is 'The Tortured Poets Department' about Matty Healy?

Healy, the frontman of The 1975, has been said to sport a “tortured, extra frontman caricature.” But is there lyrical evidence to support that he's the tortured poet in question? Here's what fans have pointed to so far:

'Tattooed golden retriever'

In "The Tortured Poets Department" titular song, Swift describes someone falling asleep next to her "like a tattooed golden retriever." Healy, notably, has many tattoos. Alwyn has no visible tattoos.


Typewriter imagery abounded in the rollout of "The Tortured Poets Department." Swift teased lyrics on typewriters. Then, days before the album came out, a pop-up library installation in L.A. featured books, typewriters and typed-out lyrics.

A typewriter with a paper that reads "crowd goes wild at her fingertips, half moonshine, full eclipse"
The Instagram story Swift's account shared on April 8.Taylor Swift / Instagram

Lyrics from "The Tortured Poets Department" also mention typewriters — and a person who loved them.

Swift sings, "You left your typewriter at my apartment, straight from the Tortured Poets Department / I think some things I'll never say ' Like who uses typewriters anyway?"

In a 2018 interview with GQ, Healy mentioned typewriters while speaking about 10 things he "couldn't live without."

“I really like typewriters ... the thing is with typewriters, and writing with pen to paper, there’s an element of commitment that goes with the ceremony of it. It requires concentration a bit better,” he said.

Carrying on, he also explained why he always carries around a notebook: "It’s mainly stories I write about my dreams about being in love with other pop stars,” he said, showing off the black notebook.

A 2016 profile of Healy in The Guardian mentions his typewriter in the second paragraph: "An Olivetti typewriter is perched on the living room table, a series of 20th-century clocks on the wall. It really does feel as if it could be 1975 at Healy’s home in east London."

Lucy and Jack

The chorus of "The Tortured Poets Department" mentions two first names: Lucy and Jack. Both Swift and the subject of the song confided the same sentiment to those friends.

She sings, "Sometimes I wonder if you’re going to screw this up with me / But you tell Lucy you’d kill yourself if I ever leave / And I had said that to Jack about you so I felt seen / Everyone we know understands why it’s meant to be / ‘Cause we’re crazy."

Could they be Lucy Dacus, singer-songwriter and member of Boygenius, and Jack Antonoff, the producer and collaborator Swift calls a friend?

Dylan Thomas and Patti Smith

In "The Tortured Poets Department" song, Swift undercuts any comparisons between herself and the greats that came before her when she sings, “I laughed in your face and said, ‘You’re not Dylan Thomas, I’m not Patti Smith / This ain’t the Chelsea Hotel / We’re modern idiots.”

Patti Smith is an American singer-songwriter and memoirist. Dylan Thomas was a Welsh raconteur and poet who died in 1953. Both lived in the Chelsea Hotel at one point, a hotel in New York that also counted artists like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Jack Kerouac and Lou Reed among its guests.


In "The Tortured Poets Department," Swift sings, "You smoked then ate seven bars of chocolate."

One of The 1975's most famous tracks is "Chocolate." In the song, chocolate is a euphemism for marijuana.

Is ‘The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived’ about Matty Healy?

“The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” is inspiring strong reactions among listeners. The song on Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets department” is an eviscerating post-breakup song in which she sings lines like, "Were you sent by someone who wanted me dead?"

“If Taylor Swift ever wrote a song called The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived about me, I’d go into witness protection,” one commentator wrote on X.

The song describes a man who "ghosted" and left: "In public showed me off / Then sank into stoned oblivion / Cause once your queen had come / You treat her like an also-ran.


Healy’s height is an inside joke among The 1975 fandom, as fans theorize he is actually 5 foot 5. In a video posted to TikTok, he argues with fan who confronted him about his height. “I am a big boy,” he says, saying he is 5 foot 11.

Buying pills

The song opens with this image: "You tried to buy some pills / From a friend of friends of mine." Healy has spoken extensively about drug use and addiction.

'Sparkling summer'

"I just want to know / If rusting my sparkling summer was the goal," she sings. Their relationship ended around June of 2023.

'Died for your sins'

Swift seems to mention the other person's "sins" or controversies when she sings, "I would’ve died for your sins / Instead, I just died inside." She appeared to be willing to put up with his PR image — instead, she was left.

"You said normal girls were boring / But you were gone by the morning," she sings.

Is ‘But Daddy I Love Him' about Matty Healy?

"But Daddy I Love Him" is an allegory of one woman making her own romantic choices in the face of scrutiny.

The target, however, is fans and other judgmental people scrutinizing her decisions.

“God save the most judgmental creeps / Who say they want what’s best for me / Sanctimoniously performing soliloquies I’ll never see / Thinking it can change the beat of my heart when he touches me,” she sings.

Is 'Fresh out the Slammer' about Matty Healy?

This song describes a person who exits one relationship and enters another, so it could be about her frame of mind when she began dating Healy.

The old relationship is described as being "gray," words she uses in "So Long London," a song thought to be about relationship with Alwyn.

"Gray and blue and fights and tunnels, handcuffed to the spell I was under," she sings. Later on, she says, "Years of labor, locks and ceilings / In the shade of how he was feeling."

Now, things are different. "Pretty baby, I’m running back home to you / Fresh out the slammer I know who my first call will be to," she sings.

Is 'My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys' about Matty Healy?

Swift longs to return to the start of a previous relationship, before the spark evaporated, in "My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys."

"But you should’ve seen him when he first got me," she says in the pre-chorus, referring to a past boyfriend who was captivated by her when they first met but soon lost interest.

The sudden change in their dynamic seems to suggest that the song is about Healy given the brevity of their romance in 2023.

"There was a litany of reasons why/ We could’ve playеd for keeps this time / I know I’m just repeating mysеlf / Put me back on my shelf," she laments.

Rumors about Swift dating Healy first emerged around 2014, so it is possible these lyrics refer to them giving their relationship a second chance.

In the outro, Swift says, "He was my best friend down at the sandlot." In between their possible romances, the two spent years as close friends. Since their reported breakup, they haven't been seen together.

Is 'Down Bad' about Matty Healy?

In "Down Bad," Swift alludes to a past beau promising the world before snatching it from her suddenly, a repeated metaphor on the album for a relationship that ended too soon.

"Did you really beam me up/ In a cloud of sparkling dust / Just to do experiments on?" she asks. "Tell me I was the chosen one / Showed me that this world is bigger than us / Then sent me back where I came from."

The most compelling evidence that the song is about Healy is the line, "They’ll say I’m nuts if I talk about / The existence of you."

Swift is likely referring to the controversy surrounding their romance as many fans voiced their disapproval on social media. She seems to predict Swifties being shocked that "TTPD" appears to be mostly about Healy.

Is 'Guilty as Sin?' about Matty Healy?

It is apparent from the first lines of "Guilty as Sin?" that the song will be packed with clues that to connect to Healy.

"Drownin’ in the Blue Nile / He sent me 'Downtown Lights'" she sings in the opening verse. "The Downtown Lights" is a song by the band "The Blue Nile" that was released in 1989, Swift's birth year.

In a November 2018 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Healy told the publication that he was a huge fan of "Downtown Lights" and that The 1975 song "Love If We Made It" was inspired by it.

"That’s another one where I wanted to reference that song; I didn’t want to hide away from referencing it. I wanted it to be f------ obvious to people that know," he said at the time.

"My boredom’s bone-deep / This cage was once just fine," Swift sings in the next line of "Guilty as Sin?", possibly referencing her breakup with Alwyn before reconnecting with Healy.

"They don’t know how you’ve haunted me so stunningly," she says, meaning she has a history with the subject. In "Guilty as Sin?" her romance with Healy just started, but she hints at having feelings for him for years.

Is 'I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)' about Matty Healy?

Throughout "TTPD," Swift mentions the backlash surrounding one of her relationships. But, as she says in multiple songs, like "But Daddy I Love Him," she can't help how she feels.

In "I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)," she reveals that one of the reasons she is not listening to the critics is because she believes that she, and she alone, can turn her love into a better man.

"They shake their heads sayin’, 'God, help her' / When I tell ‘em he’s my man / But your good Lord doesn’t need to lift a finger / I can fix him, no, really, I can/ And only I can," she sings.

The lyrics appear to be a direct response to Swifties expressing their frustrations with the pop icon dating Healy. Here, she tries to rationalize her feelings. But at the end of the song, she realizes that maybe she was wrong.

"I can fix him, no, really, I can (No, really, I can) / Woah, maybe I can’t," she concludes.

Is 'loml' about Matty Healy?

When Swift first revealed the track list for "TTPD," some fans assumed that "loml," which stands for "love of my life," would've been about her six-year relationship with Alwyn. But the lyrics describe a love that was quick with an abrupt end -- making it unlikely that she is recalling her life with the actor.

"Who’s gonna stop us from waltzing back into rekindled flames/ If we know the steps anyway?" she wonders in the opening lines. "We embroidered the memories of the time I was away."

This song is about a man Swift already had a past with, meaning all signs indicate "loml" is actually about her breakup with Healy.

"If you know it in one glimpse, it’s legendary / You and I go from one kiss to getting married," she sings in the first chorus, suggesting she fell hard and fast in this relationship.

In the second chorus, she says, "If you know it in one glimpse, it’s legendary / What we thought was for all time was momentary."

She calls out the subject for selling her a "counterfeit" dream of their life together. At the end of the track, "loml" now has a new meaning: "the loss of my life."

Is 'I Can Do It With a Broken Heart' about Matty Healy?

While the melody of this Jack Antonoff-produced track is playful and upbeat, the lyrics reveal how Swift was really feeling at the time she wrote it.

She sings "I can read your mind / 'She’s having the time of her life' / There in her glittering prime / The lights refract sequin stars off her silhouette every night/ I can show you lies."

The lyrics appear to be about her launching the massive "Eras Tour" last year and seemingly having a blast on stage every night when, secretly, she was heartbroken after a split, perhaps from Healy.

"He said he’d love me all his life/ But that life was too short/ Breaking down, I hit the floor/ All the piеces of me shatterеd as the crowd was chanting, 'More,'" she says in the chorus.

"I keep finding his things in drawers/ Crucial evidence I didn’t imagine the whole thing," she sings, implying that this relationship ended before it every really began.

Given that her split with Alwyn was announced at the start of the tour, the timing of her romance with Healy matches the timeline of her performing for months on the "Eras Tour" despite having a "broken heart."