The famous people Taylor Swift name-drops on The Tortured Poet's Department: From Charlie Puth to Dylan Thomas

Taylor Swift performs on stage (PA Archive)
Taylor Swift performs on stage (PA Archive)

The name of Taylor Swift's 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, hinted there would be several literary references within her new songs.

While it may not fully satisfy the cravings of literature enthusiasts, the album packs a punch for music lovers as she reunites with her longtime collaborators The National’s Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff.

Not only that but she enlists the vocal talents of Post Malone and Florence + the Machine on two tracks.

What TTPD lacks in poetry, the double release offers several name-drops, a couple of nods to classic literature and Easter eggs to keep Swifties entertained.

So, here's what you need to know about all the famous references.

Dylan Thomas and Patti Smith

One of the first names dropped on the album is 20th-century Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, known for his work And Death Shall Have No Dominion and Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

Not only does Swift reference the late writer but also singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith on her track, The Tortured Poet’s Department.

Smith, who was born just under a decade after Thomas passed away, was associated with the punk rock scene, and is celebrated for her writing.

The artist, 77, and Thomas both resided at the Chelsea Hotel in New York at separate times, which Swift acknowledges in the second track of her 11th studio album.

In Smith’s memoir, Kids, she chronicled her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe when they made the Chelsea Hotel home in 1969.

In her book, Smith also mentions Thomas and his influence on the hotel. The poet spent his last days at the venue before passing away at a New York hospital in 1953.

Using the artists names on track, Swift sings that both she and her lover are “modern idiots,” making it clear they're not to be confused with the renowned poet or rocker.

She belts in the post-chorus: "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 - and who's gonna hold you like me?”

Charlie Puth

On the same titular track, The Tortured Poets Department, the 34-year-old sings, “We declared Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist.”

Swift rarely name-drops a first and last name, apart from her 2006 debut single, Tim McGraw. However, Puth has long been vocal about his love for Swift’s music, previously calling the acclaimed artist a “big inspiration” and performed portions of several of her songs during a 2022 gig in NYC.

He also released a song called Tears On My Piano and revealed the track was inspired by Swift's song Teardrops On My Guitar.

It’s not the first time the admiration has been reciprocated though. After Swift joined TikTok in 2021, Puth welcomed her to the platform in a comment, to which she responded, “I've lurked your account for ages! Thanks for the welcome, piano prince.”

Lucy and Jack

While it's not entirely clear which “Lucy” Swift is referring to, fans have speculated that it's Lucy Dacus of Boygenius fame.

Loyal Swifties have already speculated that the title song is about the singer’s rumoured ex, the 1975’s frontman Matty Healy - and are now connecting the dots about others mentioned in the track.

Swift 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”.

Last May, Healy and Dacus were spotted standing near one another at an Eras Tour show. Months later, the pair had a falling out online after Healy tweeted Dacus telling her that her band's name inspired him to form a group with a name blending "girl" and a R-slur.

Dacus' responded in a tweet: “You don't hear from me at all.” Following this, Healy deactivated his X account.

In the same track, Swift also makes a reference to a "Jack." Though not explicitly confirmed by Swift – she never confirms who her songs are about, it seems likely she's alluding to her longtime collaborator and friend, Jack Antonoff, who has co-wrote the song with her.

The Blue Nile

Swift’s track, Guilty as Sin?, opens with the line, “Drowning in the Blue Nile,” a reference to 1980s Scottish synthpop band.

In her song, Swift’s narrator mentions that her romantic interest has sent her the Blue Nile's tune Downtown Lights, a track she hadn't listened to in quite some time.

It was only song from the group to make waves in the United States, which climbed its way into Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart, peaking at number 10.

Clara Bow

The standard version of TTPD concludes with "Clara Bow," a tribute to the iconic Hollywood star of the early era.

She soared to stardom during the silent film era and smoothly transitioned into the "talkies." Bow was famously dubbed the original ‘It Girl’ and garnered significant attention in the tabloids of her time.

Referencing the star, Swift sings: “You look like Clara Bow in this light, remarkable. All your life, did you know you’d be picked like a rose?”

Stevie Nicks

The Grammy award winner also sings about Fleetwood Mac frontwoman Stevie Nicks on the final track on TTPD.

Swift belts: “You look like Stevie Nicks in ‘75, the hair and lips. Crowd goes wild at her fingertips, half moonshine, a full eclipse”.

Ahead of the April 19 release, Swift dropped a clue about her mentor being referenced in the album. A tambourine reminiscent of one used by Nicks was displayed at the Los Angeles Spotify pop-up, adorned with white lace.

Aside from the name-drop, Nicks appeared to reciprocate the affection by writing a prologue for the star.

The Landslide singer paid tribute to the star by handwriting a poem, labeled “for T … and me”, which introduces the album.