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All the Famous Names Taylor Swift Drops on ‘The Tortured Poets Department’

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The title of Taylor Swift’s 11th album, The Tortured Poets Department, hinted there’d be plenty of literary references throughout her new songs.

To the dismay of recovering English majors everywhere, that’s not quite how things played out, but there are still plenty of name-drops — and even a couple of nods to classic literature.

On the title track alone, Swift alludes to fellow musicians Charlie Puth and Patti Smith as well as her pal and collaborator Jack Antonoff and the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. The standard edition’s closing track, meanwhile, is named after Clara Bow, the silent film actress who was known as the first “it girl.”

While poetry fans may be disappointed by the lack of actual poem content on TTPD, the album includes enough shout-outs and Easter eggs to keep Swifties busy for at least the next week or two.

Keep scrolling for all the name-drops on The Tortured Poets Department:


The Aimee of “ThanK you aIMee” is not real, but the capitalization of the title is not an accident: “Aimee” is Kim Kardashian. Swift and Kardashian famously feuded in 2016 after the reality star’s then-husband, Kanye West, named Swift in the song “Famous” from his album The Life of Pablo. Swift claimed that West didn’t tell her that he’d be rapping, “I made that bitch famous,” but Kardashian alleged that she did — and dropped a Snapchat video of their phone call seen round the world. Swift subsequently addressed the drama on Reputation, which dropped in 2017.

The Swift scholars at Us also couldn’t help but wonder if this song is a subtle nod to Britney Spears’ 2009 hit “If U Seek Amy,” the title of which sounds like she’s spelling out “f–k me.”

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“You know how to ball, I know Aristotle,” Swift sings on “So High School,” seemingly referring to her romance with noted NFL star Travis Kelce. Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher who was born in 384 B.C. and studied at Plato’s Academy. He founded the Peripatetic school of philosophy and laid the groundwork for the study of modern science.

Aston Martin

On “imgonnagetyouback,” Swift sings, “I’m an Aston Martin that you steered straight into the ditch / Then ran and hid.” Aston Martin is obviously a car manufacturer and not a person, but Swifties were quick to note that F1 champion Fernando Alonso is a driver for Aston Martin. Before Swift went public with Kelce, rumors swirled that she was dating Alonso. Swift never acknowledged the rumors, but Alonso did when he captioned a July 2023 TikTok video, “Race week era😉.”

The Blue Nile

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Brian Rasic/Getty Images

“Guilty as Sin?” opens with the line, “Drowning in the Blue Nile,” but this is not a reference to the Nile River tributary that runs through Ethiopia and Sudan. The Blue Nile was a Scottish synthpop band that was primarily active in the 1980s. In her song, Swift’s narrator says that her love interest has sent her the Blue Nile track “Downtown Lights,” which she hadn’t heard in a while. “Downtown Lights” was the only song the band ever charted in the United States. (It peaked at No. 10 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart, which is now known as Alternative Airplay.)

Charlie Puth

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Monica Schipper/WireImage

One of the many names dropped on the title track is Puth’s, who appears in the lyrics, “You smoked then ate seven bars of chocolate / We declared Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist.”

Fans have already begun theorizing that the “you” in question is Swift’s ex Matty Healy, whose band The 1975 has a hit called “Chocolate.” Healy also publicly praised a Puth song in 2018 via X.

The Chelsea Hotel

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Joey Kotfica/Getty Images

The title track also includes a nod to New York City’s famous Chelsea Hotel, which has housed many cultural luminaries over the years, including Smith (referenced in the same song), Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Iggy Pop, Madonna, Jack Kerouac and many more. Cohen, who died in 2016 at age 82, famously wrote the song “Chelsea Hotel #2” about his time in the building.

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Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus

The titular people in the track “Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus” do not appear to be real. If they are references to real humans, then Swift is hiding their identities or using pseudonyms. Either way, they seem to be a collective metaphor for people that one of her past lovers cheated with.

Clara Bow

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Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The standard edition of TTPD ends with “Clara Bow,” which references the silent film star of the same name. For a full breakdown of Bow’s life and possible connections to Swift, see Us Weekly’s previous dissertation on this topic.

Dylan Thomas

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Francis Reiss/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

“And you’re not Dylan Thomas / I’m not Patti Smith / This ain’t the Chelsea Hotel,” Swift sings on the album’s title track. Thomas was a Welsh poet who died in 1953 at age 39 after claiming he’d had 18 whiskeys. At the time, he was staying at the Chelsea Hotel.

Jack Antonoff

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Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Swift doesn’t say Antonoff’s last name on “The Tortured Poets Department,” but the clues are there in these lyrics: “But you tell Lucy you’d kill yourself if I ever leave / And I had said that to Jack about you.” Antonoff also cowrote the track with Swift.

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The same “TTPD” line that references “Jack” also mentions someone called Lucy, though it’s not clear if there’s a real person behind the name. Listeners who believe that the song is about Healy have already pointed to the rocker’s recent dust-up with Boygenius member Lucy Dacus. In September 2023, Healy joked that he’d told Dacus that her band’s name inspired him to start a group with a name combining the word “girl” and the R-slur. In response, Dacus tweeted, “You don’t hear from me at all.” Healy subsequently deactivated his X account.

Patti Smith

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Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns

Smith, the iconic singer-songwriter and author, appears in the chorus of the title track. In 2019, Smith defended Swift after she received criticism for not speaking out more about politics. “She’s a pop star who’s under tremendous scrutiny all the time, and one can’t imagine what that’s like,” Smith told The New York Times. “It’s unbelievable to not be able to go anywhere, do anything, have messy hair. And I’m sure that she’s trying to do something good. She’s not trying to do something bad. And if it influences some of her avid fans to open up their thoughts, what does it matter? Are we going to start measuring who’s more authentic than who?”

“I don’t agree that artists and musicians have more responsibility to speak out than anyone else,” Smith continued. “I think everybody has to be more active. Art is inspiring and art can really bring people together. A song can rally people, but it’s not going to make change.”

After TTPD debuted, Smith shared an Instagram photo of herself reading a book by Thomas and thanked Swift for the shout-out. “This is saying I was moved to be mentioned in the company of the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas,” Smith wrote. “Thank you Taylor.”

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Sarahs and Hannahs

“But Daddy I Love Him” includes a dig at the “Sarahs and Hannahs in their Sunday best” who are “clutching their pearls” over the narrator’s romantic choices. This doesn’t appear to be a reference to anyone specific, though — just a general nod to Swift’s critics.

The Starting Line

On “The Black Dog,” Swift describes a moment where her love interest gets excited to hear the pop-punk band playing in a bar. “In The Black Dog / When someone plays The Starting Line / And you jump up / But she’s too young to know this song,” she sings.

After TTPD dropped, the band thanked Swift for the nod. “Dear Taylor, we heard the song, thank you for name checking our band,” they wrote via Instagram. “We feel flattered and humbled by the reverberations of love that have come back to us as a result. It’s an honor to have TSL memorialized on such a lovely song. You didn’t have to do that, but you did, and we appreciate it wholeheartedly. Respect!”

Stevie Nicks

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Paul Natkin/Getty Images

“You look like Stevie Nicks in ’75, the hair and lips,” Swift sings on “Clara Bow,” referencing the Fleetwood Mac singer. “Crowd goes wild at her fingertips.”

Ahead of TTPD’s release, Swift fans noticed a tambourine and scarf — two of Nicks’ signature accessories — had been added to the album’s pop-up in Los Angeles.

Taylor Swift

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

Swift references herself on “Clara Bow” near the end of the song, singing, “You look like Taylor Swift in this light / We’re loving it / You’ve got edge, she never did.”

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