Taylor Swift – ‘The Lakes’: theories, lyrics and everything we know about the ‘Folklore’ bonus song

Fans are agog at the wistful track, only available on the physical release of the acclaimed new album, which is available tomorrow (August 7)

When Taylor Swift dropped her surprise eighth album ‘Folklore’, it felt like a very different prospect to her previous records. This was largely down to the new sonic world she explored, as she cast aside the glossy synth-pop of recent albums and embraced wistful indie-folk. There were new collaborators, too, with The National‘s Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver joining Swift’s musical family.

Yet another major difference was the way ‘Folklore’ was rolled out. As Swift did a Beyoncé and shock released it, there wasn’t a huge build-up of several singles that came with accompanying music videos stuffed full of Easter eggs that reveal nuggets of information about the album. (Although there was plenty to decode in the record itself.)

It wouldn’t be a Swift album without some sort of hidden treat, though, and for ‘Folklore’ that comes in the form of ‘The Lakes’. The bonus track is currently unable to stream, only available on physical copies of the album, with fans even starting petitions to get the tune on streaming services.

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Some lucky fans in the UK have already got their paws on a copy of the song (with Swift’s UK label making physical copies available early), but most are still waiting to hear the allusive tune. So for those eagerly awaiting its release, here’s the lowdown on the ‘Folklore’ bonus track.

The dates are important

‘The Lakes’ is only available on physical copies of the album, and fans have been quick to spot that it looks like physical copies will arrive for some fans (and be available in stores) on August 7. This date isn’t just a coincidence, though – on ‘Folklore’ there’s a track called ‘seven’ and one called ‘august’ – which makes it look like Taylor had been planning something special for this day. After all, Swift did explain that for this album she “put the Easter eggs in the lyrics more than just the videos”.

There might be another announcement imminent

Some fans are speculating that on August 7 there will be another announcement too – whether that’s Taylor putting ‘The Lakes’ on streaming services, a music video for the song or even an announcement about her relationship with boyfriend Joe Alwyn (some are contemplating that it could be that they’re engaged).

It’s another example of Swift’s love of the UK

As T-Swiz told us on her last album ‘Lover’, she loves a London Boy (aka Alwyn). And she loves our capital city! She likes “nights in Brixton” and “Shoreditch in the afternoon”, as well as “high tea, stories from uni, and the West End”. Hell, she even likes “walking Camden Market in the afternoon”, which is more than can be said of most of us Londoners.

On ‘The Lakes’, Swift celebrates her love of another area of the UK, though, The Lake District. With the song available in some areas, it means the lyrics are available online, and the song is full of references to the Lake District. From Windermere (“Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry”) to the Lake Poets (“Take me to the lakes / Where all the poets went to die”), a group of English poets including William Wordsworth who all lived in the Lake District – it’s clearly about the beautiful British world heritage site.

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It looks like this place could be particularly important to Taylor, as this isn’t the first reference to the Lakes on the album. On ‘Invisible String’ she sings “Bold was the waitress on our three-year trip / Getting lunch down by the Lakes / She said I looked like an American singer”, indicating this could be the place that she spent her three-year anniversary with Alwyn.

Swift takes inspiration from the Lake Poets

The lyrics on ‘The Lakes’ even more romantic and poetic than those of other tracks on ‘Folklore’ (which is some feat!). It looks like Taylor took inspiration from the gaggle of English artists. She even shouts out William Wordsworth with a neat bit of wordplay (“Tell me what are my words worth”). Couplets such as “While I bathe in cliffside pools / With my calamitous love and insurmountable grief” and verses like “Is it romantic how all of my elegies eulogize me? / I’m not cut out for all these cynical clones / These hunters with cell phones” are gorgeously written, a change from her usual tongue-in-cheek turn of phrase.

Who’s the “name-dropping sleaze”?

In the second verse, Swift sings “What should be over burrowed under my skin / In heart-stopping waves of hurt / I’ve come too far to watch some name-dropping sleaze / Tell me what are my words worth”. They’re powerful words, but the question arises – who’s the “namedropping sleaze” in question? It’s a tantalising question, and further proof that Taylor Swift is a master when it comes to commanding our attention.

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