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Taylor Swift Fans Theorize Meaning of ‘The Albatross’ Bonus Version

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Taylor Swift’s new bonus track “The Albatross” has Swifties already trying to deduce its meaning just hours after its announcement.

“I’m really, really proud of this record,” Swift, 34, said of The Tortured Poets Department during her Friday, February 23, concert in Sydney, Australia. “You know, it’s good to have options. Everyone likes options. I wanted to show you something if you would direct your attention to the main screen. This is an alternate cover for The Tortured Poets Department.

She continued, “This edition is called ‘The Albatross’ because there is an exclusive bonus song on this vinyl … and I can’t wait for you to hear it.”

Swift’s 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, drops on April 19 and will already have two additional bonus versions titled “The Manuscript” and “The Bolter.” Swifties have speculated that the record chronicles the pop star’s breakup from Joe Alwyn.

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Us Weekly previously confirmed in April 2023 that Swift and Alwyn, 32, split after six years together. Swift, who has not publicly shared her TTPD inspiration, has since moved on with NFL star Travis Kelce.

Keep scrolling for Swifties’ biggest theories about “The Albatross” — and how it potentially relates to preexisting speculation about The Tortured Poets Department:

What Does It Mean?

The word “albatross” has multiple meanings and can refer to either an oceanic bird (often residing in Australia, where Swift made her announcement), a source of frustration and guilt or a “double eagle” in golf. If a person is called an albatross, it typically means that said individual is a “psychological burden.”

Some Swifties have pointed out that describing someone as an albatross defines them as a person who “causes you great problems from which you cannot escape, or they prevent you from doing what you want to do.”

Getting Lit

Albatrosses are also symbolic creatures, often representing mystery and fortune in works of literature and ancient cultures. It is widely thought that an albatross can bring luck to sailors.

The avian creature also appears in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” The poem is interpreted as a story of salvation and hints at the author’s loneliness. (It’s a bonus that Swift and Coleridge have a name in common.)

At her show in Melbourne earlier this month, Swift called herself a “lonely millennial woman” while writing Folklore in 2020 despite publicly dating Alwyn.

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Back to the Lakes

Acclaimed French poet Charles Baudelaire also wrote a poem titled “The Albatross,” which an English translation reads in part:

“Often, to amuse themselves, the men of a crew

Catch albatrosses, those vast sea birds

That indolently follow a ship

As it glides over the deep, briny sea.”

One fan likened the pop star to the bird, speculating that the sailors have tried to “mock and pull apart her every move.”

Baudelaire was one of the last Romantic poets, whom Swift previously alluded to in her song “The Lakes” when she crooned, “Take me to the lakes where all the poets went to die.”

13s and the Bowery of It All

There was also a hotel named after the albatross, which was located in New York City’s Coney Island. In 1903, a fire broke out. The blaze was begun by a hotel employee after an unrequited love story and took out 260 buildings in the neighboring Bowery. Some Swifties have pointed out that Bowery was part of Alwyn’s pseudonym for collaborating with Swift on Folklore, Evermore and Midnights. 

“Coney Island” is also the name of a Swift song, which she performed as part of a surprise song mashup on Friday.

In addition, 1, 9, 0 and 3 add up to 13, Swift’s lucky number.

A Coincidental Date

Albatross birds spend the first six years of their “long lives” at sea, according to Smithsonian magazine. While “Long Live” is the name of one of Swift’s Speak Now tracks, fans think that the six years correlates to the length of her relationship with Alwyn.

 

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