IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Songs that Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn created together
Before Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn were no more, they were more than just lovers; they were creative music collaborators. While Swift was known for writing heartfelt, gut-wrenching lyrics, Alwyn was her “London Boy” muse.
“It was completely off-the-cuff, an accident. She said, ‘Can we try and sit down and get to the end together?’ And so we did. It was as basic as some people made sourdough,” the British actor told U.S.-based entertainment platform Vulture in May 2022. Alwyn also took the pseudonym William Bowery during their collab.
Sadly, their relationship appeared to have ran its course after six years. But while we’re still “trying to see through the rain,” pun intended, let’s take a look back at the ex-lovebirds’ music before they (officially) “tell us when it’s over.” And maybe, a trip down “Cornelia Street” is all we need to get through this heartbreak.
‘Sweet Nothing’ (Midnights)
Compared to her past albums, “Midnights” is a diary of Swift’s darkest thoughts in the wee hours of the night. It’s arguable that the majority of people’s minds go haywire during these hours — but “Sweet Nothings” is a reminder that love can conquer its deepest terrors.
A reference to their lowkey romance, the lyrics “Evеryone’s up to something / I found myself a-running home to your sweet nothings” is a peek into Swift and Alwyn finding comfort in one another amidst the chaos of their respective worlds outside their own bubble.
Swift and Alwyn might’ve been dedicated to keeping their relationship intact, but “Betty” is an eye-opening reminder of their confidence to allow the topic of cheating enter their conversations. While reports showed that neither were determined to not infidelity ruin their romance, it takes courage for couples to acknowledge that it does happen in their respective environments.
“Betty,” co-written and co-produced by the pair, tells the love triangle involving Betty, whose romance with James went crumbling after his “summer thing” with Augustine. James’ infidelity was discovered with the help of her friend Inez. The song might’ve been a gut-wrenching glimpse into cheating partners, but it also mirrors the exes’ poignant indignation against them.
Outsiders are familiar with “I think I’ve seen this film before / And I didn’t like the ending” which is the pièce de résistance of “Exile.” A song that unfolds a painful dialogue between two lovers, where one is desperate to keep holding on and another is resigned to the fact that things are not working out.
Many naysayers are quick to find the villain in a relationship gone wrong, but this song shows that finding the one who did the other wrong is sometimes a waste of time. No one is meant to hold the “crown” in a broken romance — which is a haunting foreshadowing to Swift and Alwyn’s “amicable” split.
‘My Tears Ricochet’ (Folklore)
“My Tears Ricochet” opens with a seemingly vocal chorus heard in funerals which is set in the backdrop for people who experience overwhelming grief for the majority of their lives. Swift’s life in the limelight is one clear example, and Alwyn seemed to help her come to terms with her sadness as a co-producer.
One of the songs that is personal to Swift can be gleaned from some of her most painful experiences in the music industry, with Pop Sugar speculating that “You know I didn’t want to have to haunt you / But what a ghostly scene / You wear the same jewels that I gave you / As you bury me” is her anger towards Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta selling her masters to Scooter Braun in 2019.
Some critics speculated that “August” is a continuation of “Betty,” with the perspective shifting to Augustine’s lovesick confession to James who was said to be “never mine.” Another line that supports the claim is the persona expressing her frustration over their “summer love and saying ‘us’” since in the first place, the apple of her eye “weren’t mine to lose.”
Setting aside the love triangle of Betty, James, and Augustine, the song can be interpreted as a cold splash of water for people who are in love with someone they couldn’t have, and while something might’ve developed between the pair, it’s a glaring awareness that the person is “never mine.”
‘This is Me Trying’ (Folklore)
Another song produced with Alwyn, “This is Me Trying” can be interpreted as Swift looking back at her past relationships with the lens of an adult.
The lyrics “You’re a flashback in a film reel on the one screen in my town / And I just wanted you to know that this is me trying” allude to the singer’s glimpse into her past romantic affairs as she sang about “trying” her best to make it work. Even if she is known to the public as an award-winning singer-songwriter, she is still a woman with her own weaknesses in matters of the heart.
‘Illicit Affairs’ (Folklore)
The title itself is an angering glimpse into infidelity as Swift packs her indignation about its “godforsaken mess” through the perspective of the couple inside the “illicit affair” itself.
While the persona’s affair with a mystery someone can be seen as a “dwindling, mercurial high,” the former finds themselves in a moment of desperation to escape — yet they couldn’t find the strength to do so. Because in the “idiotic” narrator’s eyes, it’s impossible not to “ruin myself a million little times” for this person.
‘Champagne Problems’ (Evermore)
Another song that describes Swift and Alwyn’s penchant for creating heartbreaking music, “Champagne Problems” tells the story of a rejected proposal where the persona knew he was going to be rejected despite having “your mom’s ring in your pocket.”
Despite speculations that the song mirrors the couple, the singer-songwriter herself clarified in her “evermore note” that it is not “breaking news” to their personal life. The narrator might’ve rejected her lover’s proposal, but nonetheless finds themselves in agony as they struggle to accept the truth that someone deserves their partner better.
I have no idea what will come next. I have no idea about a lot of things these days and so I’ve clung to the one thing that keeps me connected to you all. That thing always has and always will be music. And may it continue, evermore. evermore is out now: https://t.co/QYMUTL0IAj pic.twitter.com/tlSmahDkBi
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) December 11, 2020
‘Coney Island’ (Evermore)
The ex-couple allowed their songwriting prowess to go haywire in this song, as they observe a decaying relationship while seated on a bench in “Coney Island.” The soulful pondering of “Did I close my fist around something delicate / Did I shatter you” is a peek into the lovers’ argument which can be seen as the last straw.
As Swift and The National trade heartbreaking lines, they ultimately confess to each other, saying “sorry for not making you my centerfold.” The song finally ends at an open note, where listeners are open to interpret whether the couple ended their relationship badly or in amicable note.
“Evermore” is one of the many songs where Alwyn appeared to be Swift’s rock in her struggles with mental health, where he also served as a co-writer. This gut-wrenching track is a relatable look into spiraling in your darkest thoughts, where the narrator appears to be blaming themselves for their mistakes especially in moments gone wrong.
The ballad wraps in an open-ended note but this time, it’s a hopeful reminder that “this pain wouldn’t be for evermore.” EDV
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