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Taylor Swift’s ‘The Black Dog’ Lyrics Detail a Brutal Discovery About Matty Healy Post-Breakup



Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department ended up having way more tracks about Swift’s Matty Healy romance than fans expected. Her bonus track “The Black Dog” appears to be the latest one.

While fans initially predicted the song was about Swift’s ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn, some Swifties found convincing evidence that Healy is actually the song’s subject—and the person who left his location shared with Swift after their breakup.

In the song’s second verse, Swift sings, “In The Black Dog, when someone plays The Starting Line / And you jump up, but she’s too young to know this song / That was intertwined in the magic fabric of our dreaming / Old habits die screaming.”

Fans noted that Healy covered 2000s band The Starting Line’s “The Best of Me” during the 1975’s concert on May 3, 2023 in Manila. The same day, The Sun reported that Healy and Swift were dating and that Healy mouthed “this one is about you. You know who you are. I love you,” onstage. Two days later, Swift mouthed the same thing during her Nashville Eras Tour concert that Healy attended. Healy had flown over 17 hours to see Swift perform.

The Black Dog is a real London bar in Vauxhill. It is also an expression used to describe depression. (One of the U.K.’s most famous prime ministers, Winston Churchill, popularized it; Healy is, of course, British as well, adding extra weight to the reference.)

In “The Black Dog,” Swift details how her ex is dating someone younger than her. Healy did just that…twice.

Following his June 2023 split from Swift, Healy briefly rekindled his relationship with his 24-year-old ex-girlfriend Meredith Mickelson. They were photographed kissing in August.

That didn’t last long, as Healy was first photographed kissing his current girlfriend, 26-year-old model Gabbriette Bechtel, in September 2023. Both women are younger than Swift, with Mickelson having a 10-year age gap.

There’s a lot of insight in “The Black Dog” about Swift’s feelings about Healy and grief post-split. Here, all the possible references to him, annotated.

Verse 1:
I am someone who until recent events
You shared your secrets with
And your location, you forgot to turn it off
And so I watch as you walk
Into some bar called The Black Dog
And pierce new holes in my heart
You forgot to turn it off

Fans initially thought Swift and Healy dated too briefly to be sharing locations on their phones, though the two artists had been friends and collaborators long before their summer fling.

Healy revealed in November 2022 that he, Swift, and The 1975 had worked on a Midnights collaboration that didn’t make the album. The omission was “for reasons that are not to be criticized. She’s amazing.” Midnights came out in Oct. 21, 2022, meaning Swift and Healy had been spending time together far before the release.

After their June 2023 breakup, Swift and Healy stayed friends, People reported. A source told the outlet on June 6, 2023, “They have been friends for years and decided to just go back to being friends. Nothing complicated happened. It’s just life.”

A second source even raised the potential of them rekindling, suggesting their love story wasn’t absolutely over. The insider said, “They were never boyfriend-girlfriend or exclusive and were always just having fun. There is no drama, and who knows what could happen again. It was a good time and ran its course.”

And it hits me
I just don’t understand

How you don’t miss me
In The Black Dog, when someone plays The Starting Line
And you jump up, but she’s too young to know this song
That was intertwined in the magic fabric of our dreaming
Old habits die screaming

The chorus is the most Healy-coded part of the song, especially given his cover of The Starting Line during the same concert he mouthed “I love you” onstage, seemingly to Swift. Again, she would reciprocate the action two days later during her Nashville concert that Healy attended.

Healy dated Meredith Mickelson after Swift, who is 10 years younger than her.

Verse 2:
I move through the world with a heart broken
My longing state unspoken
And I may never open up thе way I did for you
And all of those best laid plans
You said I needed a bravе man
Then proceeded to play him
Until I believed it too

Swift sang about her ex Alwyn being “a coward [who] claimed he was a lion” in her Tortured Poets song “loml.” Healy, in contrast, was far more public with their romance in its first weeks than Alwyn was in his entire six years with Swift. Perhaps Swift’s lyric, “You said I needed a bravе man / Then proceeded to play him / Until I believed it too,” captures her feelings about this. Healy was Swift’s first relationship after her breakup with Alwyn.

A source told The Sun on May 3 that Swift and Healy “are both massively proud and excited about this relationship and, unlike Taylor’s last one—which was very much kept out of the spotlight, deliberately—she wants to ‘own’ this romance, and not hide it away. Taylor just wants to live her life, and be happy. She’s told pals Matty is flying to Nashville over the weekend to support her on the next leg of her tour.”

Swift later addressed her preference for a partner who doesn’t hide the fact that they’re dating when talking about Travis Kelce with Time. She told the outlet in December 2023, “When you say a relationship is public, that means I’m going to see him do what he loves, we’re showing up for each other, other people are there and we don’t care. The opposite of that is you have to go to an extreme amount of effort to make sure no one knows that you’re seeing someone. And we’re just proud of each other.”

Swift’s lyric, “I move through the world with a heart broken / My longing state unspoken” seems to suggest that she hid the pain of her Alwyn and Healy heartbreaks while on tour. She sang about that experience masking her true feelings in “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart.” Swift did not talk about her romance with Healy—but she had strong feelings about her fans’ objections to him because of his problematic history. She sang about that anger in “But Daddy, I Love Him.”

I just don’t understand how you don’t miss me
In the shower and remember how my rain-soaked body
Was shakin’, do you hate me?
Was it hazing for a cruel fraternity?
I pledged and I still mean it
Old habits die screaming


Six weeks of breathin’ clean air
I still miss the smoke
Were you makin’ fun of me?
With some esoteric joke?
Now I wanna sell my house
And set fire to all my clothes
And hire a priest to come and exorcise my demons
Even if I die screaming
And I hope you hear it

In December 2023, reports broke that Swift bought a house in North London. Before that, Daily Mail reported that she and Alwyn had been in the process of buying a seven-bedroom mansion in the city’s Belsize Park before their breakup. Swift ultimately got a different property. Healy is also British though, so her line “now I wanna sell my house” may be a reference to her wanting to cut ties with England altogether given that both her British romances ended. “The smoke” in the verse may also be a reference to London. The city was nicknamed The Smoke in the past.

Swift spent summer 2023, the period following her breakup, out of England. She was on the U.S. leg of her Eras Tour and spent the bulk of time between shows in New York. She was photographed frequently that summer going to Electric Lady Studios, where she recorded this album. (Healy even went with her once.)

And then I hope it’s shitty in The Black Dog
When someone plays The Starting Line
And you jump up, but she’s too young to know this song
That was intertwined in the tragic fabric of our dreaming
With tail between your legs, you’re leavin’


I still can’t believe it
‘Cause old habits die screaming

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