Betty: Analysis of Taylor Swift’s folklore (from larger post)

29 Aug

This is a more digestible portion of my album analysis:


Here, I have tried to analyze what and who each track of Folklore is about.  Which is complex because it’s not in a linear order.  Names are obscured.  Facts may be reality or story.  The narrator is unreliable.  And this whole thing is going to be from a Kaylor perspective, because that’s how the songs, and Taylor Swifts catalog as a whole makes the best sense to me.  I’ll show you what I mean.


14. Betty.

This is the song that unlocks the ‘high school love triangle’ angle of the album.  This is also the song that made most listeners stop and go, “hmmm, this song doesn’t seem super-straight…”  It’s from James’ perspective, and we know that because the person telling this song is invited into a car by name.

But I spy inconsistencies.  “Betty, one time I was riding my skateboard when I passed your house it’s like I can’t breathe.”  This might sound like a stereotype, and I apologize.  But I’ve known teenage guys, and the ones I have had contact with don’t have the emotional maturity to go breathless about a girl.  The ones I know might think a girl is cute, or have a crush, or want sex, but I’ve never known them at a teen age to get like, no breath about it.  That seems very female to me.  But I’m female, so it’s difficult to go outside my own perspective–just as it was probably difficult for Taylor.  And at the end, James put on Betty’s cardigan.  Does a guy wear his girlfriend’s sweater?

Taylor was named after James Taylor.  And Karlie Elizabeth (Betty is a nickname for Elizabeth) Kloss is the other female in this story, Betty.  And Taylor mentions the cobblestones, streetlight, and also the garden of the romantic Lover album.  Hello, “Cruel Summer” fame “sneaking through your garden gate just to seal my fate” then in real life Karlie Kloss sells her condo, and featured in the real estate ad is a garden?  And there’s pictures of Taylor going in and out of a garden gate in that same neighborhood.

So yeah, there’s some high school kids mixed in this song.  And age of 17.  A gym and a school dance.  But that’s just the unreliable narrator again.  Taylor even confirms that she’s James in the “Cardigan” music video–she puts on that cardigan at the end.  And has a knowing look.  Yup, I’m James.

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