‘So Long, London’ Is a Classic Taylor Swift Track 5 Song

3 minute read

One thing is always for sure with Taylor Swift: her most devastating songs will always be the fifth track on her albums. It’s a pattern that fans have noticed since 2012's Red. The fifth song on that album, widely regarded as her magnum opus, is “All Too Well.” But even looking at the albums before Red, the pattern was already there. In an Instagram Live she did before the release of Lover, Swift spoke about the phenomenon and admitted she didn’t really notice she was doing it.

“As I was making albums I guess I was just kind of putting a very vulnerable, personal, honest, emotional song as track five,” she said. Because her fans noticed this, she upheld the Swiftian tradition, and it’s the track her fans look out for.


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♬ I Wanted to Leave - SYML

By the time a Swift album gets to the fifth track, prepare for a crushing song that is, more often than not, depressingly gorgeous.

Some of the fifth tracks over the course of Swift's career include: “Cold As You” from her self-titled debut album, “White Horse,” off of Fearless, “Dear John” on Speak Now, “Delicate” from Reputation, and “tolerate it” from evermore. These songs contain some of the singer-songwriter’s most biting lyrics, the kind that twist the emotional knife into anyone’s heart. Swift’s eleventh studio album is no different. Track five on her latest project, called “So Long, London,” hints at the slow breakdown of her relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn, who she dated for six years. According to Entertainment Tonight, the two broke up in April of 2023. “The relationship had just run its course,” an anonymous source told ET.

How does Swift address her breakup with Joe Alwyn?

On The Tortured Poets Department's fifth track, Swift gives a glimpse into the end of her relationship with Alwyn. Swift sings about carrying the weight of a relationship and learning to move on from an emotionally distant lover so that she, too, doesn’t go down with “the ship.” It seems like she did her best to hold on to their relationship, but that wasn’t enough to revive their dying romantic entanglement.

“Pulled him in tighter each time he was drifting away. My spine split from carrying us up the hill,” she sings. "Wet through my clothes, weary bones caught the chill. I stopped trying to make him laugh, stopped trying to drill the safe.”

The lyrics suggest there seemed to be tension toward the end of their relationship. “And you say I abandoned the ship, but I was going down with it,” we hear her sing. “My white knuckle dying grip holding tight to your quiet resentment.”

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Write to Moises Mendez II at moises.mendez@time.com