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Taylor Swift’s boyfriend helped write Folklore’s best song and 6 other secrets we learned from her new Disney Plus film

Reiss Smith November 25, 2020
Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn

Taylor Swift confirmed that William Bowery is her boyfriend Joe Alwyn. (Getty)

Taylor Swift dropped Folklore: The Long Pond Sessions, and with it revealed a plethora of secrets about the Grammy-nominated album.

The new Taylor Swift Disney Plus film is a making-of documentary spliced with intimate studio performances.

Released with just a days’ warning, and arriving hours after Folklore won five Grammy nominations (including Album of the Year), it sees Swift explain the backstory behind each of the album’s 17 tracks.

Swift confirms a number of fan theories and offers new insights into the album, starting with this huge reveal.

1. Mystery songwriter William Bowery is Taylor Swift’s boyfriend Joe Alwyn.

When Taylor Swift announced Folklore in July, she name-checked the “musical heroes” she got to collaborate with: The National’s Aaron Dessner, Bon Iver, super-producer Jack Antonoff and a person named William Bowery.

Fans instantly clocked that Bowery – who co-wrote “Betty” and the Grammy-nominated “Exile” – was an alias, and after rampant speculation deduced he was likely Swift’s boyfriend Joe Alwyn.

In the new Folklore film, the star confirms this is true, and that Alwyn wrote the piano melody for “Exile”.

“It’s not a real person,” she says. “So, William Bowery is Joe, as we know. Joe plays piano beautifully, and he’s just always playing and making things up and kind of creating things.

“‘Exile’ was crazy because Joe had written that entire piano part and was singing the Bon Iver part. He was just singing it, the way that the whole first verse is.

“So I was entranced and asked if we could keep writing that one. It was pretty obvious that it should be a duet because he’s got such a low voice and it sounded really good sung down there in that register.”

2. ‘Betty’ is an apology song written from a male perspective.

Remember when Swift caused a minor lesbian panic with “Betty”, heralded the world over as a sapphic anthem, only for her to later confirm the song is a straight love story?

As it turns out, Joe Alwyn was responsible for this track too.

“I just heard Joe sing the entire, fully-formed chorus of ‘Betty’, from another room and I was just like, hello,” Swift says in the film

“It was a step that we would never have taken because why would we have ever written a song together?

“He was singing the chorus and I thought it sounded really good from a masculine perspective, and I really liked that it seemed to be an apology. We decided to make it from a teenage boy’s perspective after he loses the love of his life because he’s been foolish.”

3. The girl on ‘August’ is named Augustine.

On Folklore, Swift dreamed up a “Teenage Love Triangle”, with three tracks – “Cardigan”, “August” and “Betty” – telling a story “from all three people’s perspectives at different times in their lives”.

The central couple, James and Betty, are torn apart after James cheats with another woman, who Swift has now revealed she calls Augusta or Augustine.

Taylor Swift Folklore Betty
Taylor Swift in the Cardigan video.(Instagram)

4. At the end of the album, James and Betty end up back together.

Folklore’s love triangle ends on a cliffhanger – James turning up on Betty’s doorstep, with Swift whispering in “Betty”: “I knew you’d come back to me.”

In The Long Pond Sessions Taylor Swift confirms that in her mind, Betty takes James back – even though he “was a fool”.

“We wrote it, I’m confirming, he was a fool,” she added.

Swift also discussed Augustine’s role in the triangle, saying: “The idea that there’s some bad, villain girl in any type of situation who takes your man is actually a total myth, because that’s not usually the case at all. Everybody has feelings and wants to be seen and loved.

5. ‘My Tears Ricochet’ is about a best friend becoming your worst enemy.

“My Tears Richochet” is arguably the most devastating song on Folklore, with Swift cursing a lover and the death of a romance.

Fans have fervently speculated about who might have inspired the song, and while Swift doesn’t offer any clues on The Long Pond Sessions, she does give some more insight into the lyrics.

“It’s a song about how somebody could be your best friend and your companion and your most trusted person in your life, and then they could go and become your worst enemy who knows how to hurt you, because they were once your most trusted person.”

Swift confirmed she consciously made “My Tears Ricochet” track five, continuing her tradition of putting the most emotional track from each album in that position.

6. ‘Mirrorball ‘was written right after Taylor Swift learned her tour was cancelled.

Were it not for the pandemic, summer 2020 would have seen Swift stage her Lover Fest show and headline the UK’s Glastonbury Festival.

After she found out the tour was cancelled, Swift put pen to paper and the result, she reveals in the film, was “Mirrorball”.

7. ‘The Lakes’ was inspired by the Lake District.

Yep. Bonus track “The Lakes” was inspired by one of Swift’s trips to England, with the idea coming to her as she visited the final resting place of romantic poet William Wordsworth in Cumbria’s Lake District.

“I went to William Wordsworth’s grave and sat there and thought ‘Wow, you did it’,” Taylor Swift reflects in the Disney Plus film. “You went away, escaped, and kept writing.”

Taylor Swift’s Disney Plus film, Folklore: The Long Pong Sessions, is available to stream now.

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