Feature Breaking Down Taylor Swift I Can Do It With a Broken Heart Playlist
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Taylor Swift is no stranger to heartbreak, meaning she’s also intimately familiar with the healing that comes afterward.

Leading up to the release of her 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, on Friday, April 19, Swift explored the five stages of grief in specially curated Apple Music playlists — with each selection of songs also correlating to one of the variants of her new record. The final playlist, titled “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” reflects the acceptance phase.

“Hey Apple Music, you’ve made it to my ‘I Can Do It With a Broken Heart’ playlist where we finally find acceptance and can start moving forward from loss or heartbreak,” she said in a voice note introducing the collection. “These songs represent making room for more good in your life, making that choice. Because a lot of times, when we lose things, we gain things too.”

Nearly one year after Us Weekly confirmed her split from Joe Alwyn, Swift announced her 11th album at the 2024 Grammy Awards in February. She referred to writing TTPD as a “lifeline” during an Eras Tour performance later that month. Fans who attended the tour, tuned in to livestreams or watched the Eras Tour concert film may have witnessed Swift channeling another lifeline in the song “You’re on Your Own, Kid.”

The 2022 Midnights hit kicks off the acceptance playlist and has been performed five times as a surprise song throughout the Eras Tour — more than any other. It seemingly became an anthem for Swift’s post-Alwyn chapter and inspired the trend within her fanbase of making friendship bracelets. (Swift’s current boyfriend, Travis Kelce, famously attempted to give her a bracelet with his phone number on it at one of her July 2023 concerts before they began dating, with their love story serving as a perfect example of the lyric, “Everything you lose is a step you take.”)

Travis Kelce Breaking Down Taylor Swift I Can Do It With a Broken Heart Playlist
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It’s debated how much of the Midnights album is inspired by Alwyn himself, but it’s clear the duo’s relationship had cracks before they officially called it quits. At the time of their split, a source exclusively told Us that Swift’s fame was a deciding factor. For some listeners, the placement of “Midnight Rain” on the acceptance playlist could hint at a partner’s hesitation to be in the spotlight (or in Swift’s shadow).

“He was sunshine, I was midnight rain / He wanted it comfortable, I wanted that pain / He wanted a bride, I was making my own name / Chasing that fame / He stayed the same / All of me changed like midnight,” she sings in the chorus.

While Swift was already one of the biggest acts in music, her status rose even further throughout her relationship with Alwyn, particularly with the releases of Folklore and Evermore in 2020. When the pair’s romance began, Swift was in hiding following drama with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West — but soon enough, all of her changed. (The sun/rain imagery is also prominent in the Folklore song “Peace” on the bargaining playlist.)

“I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” continues with another Midnights song, “Labyrinth,” which describes the fear of falling too hard, too fast. Swift dropped one of her trademark Easter eggs while delivering a commencement speech at New York University in May 2022, referencing “Labyrinth” lyrics before fans had ever heard them.

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“Hard things will happen to us, we will recover, we will learn from it, we will grow more resilient because of it,” she said in May 2022. “As long as we are fortunate enough to be breathing, we will breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep and breathe out.”

Swift is known to leave clues for her fans to decode, and it’s possible one of the biggest came just before news broke of her and Alwyn’s split when she played “The 1” instead of “Invisible String” during the Folklore set of an Eras Tour concert in April 2023. (Swift never addressed the reason for the change, but “The 1” has remained on the setlist ever since.) Both songs appear on the acceptance playlist, along with “August,” which is based on a fictional love triangle and was co-produced by Alwyn.

“What happened in my head was ‘Cardigan’ is Betty’s perspective from 20 to 30 years later, looking back on this love that was this tumultuous thing,” she explained in the 2020 documentary Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions. “In my head, I think Betty and James ended up together. So, in my head, she ends up with him, but he really put her through it.”

“August,” meanwhile, centers James’ summer fling as she accepts, “You were never mine.”

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Alwyn was also involved behind the scenes on Swift’s album Evermore, a companion to Folklore. He cowrote the record’s title track with Swift and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, whose vocals are featured as well. “Evermore” begins with the narrator in a period of depression (“Gray November, I’ve been down since July”) that feels inescapable. By the end of the song, however, the tides change.

Joe Alwyn Breaking Down Taylor Swift I Can Do It With a Broken Heart Playlist
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“And I couldn’t be sure, I had a feeling so peculiar / This pain wouldn’t be for / Evermore,” Swift sings.

Four additional Evermore tracks are featured on the acceptance playlist, including “Happiness,” which shows an appreciation for memories made throughout a relationship despite its ending. “Happiness” zooms out on the relationship from “above the trees,” eventually accepting that not one person is to blame for the pain they’re left with (“I can’t make it go away by making you a villain”). Fans have also noted the irony of Swift writing a sad song with a title that would seemingly imply a positive emotion.

The playlist also includes “Long Story Short,” “Closure” and “It’s Time to Go,” the latter of which reminds the listener (and perhaps Swift herself) to trust their intuition no matter how difficult it feels to leave a situation behind.

“Sometimes, givin’ up is the strong thing / Sometimes, to run is the brave thing / Sometimes, walkin’ out is the one thing / That will find you the right thing,” she sings.

While plenty of these songs are heartbroken ballads, Swift also explores the upside of moving on with Lover’s “I Forgot That You Existed” and the 1989 (Taylor’s Version) vault track “Now That We Don’t Talk.” Both attempt to find a silver lining in what comes after a breakup.

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“I don’t have to pretend I like acid rock / Or that I’d like to be on a mega yacht / With important men who think important thoughts / Guess maybe I am better off / Now that we don’t talk,” she sings.

Including “Daylight” as a soundtrack to acceptance gives a fresh perspective to the fan favorite. When Lover was released in 2019, the song appeared to signify a new relationship brightening Swift’s life after a string of failed romances. Now, it can be argued that leaving that same relationship behind is what helped her “step into the daylight.”

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Learning to let go is a lesson Swift has taken to heart. While describing her inspiration for “This Love (Taylor’s Version),” originally released in 2014, Swift spoke candidly about accepting when a relationship has run its course.

“It’s about an experience I’ve had where, if you truly care about someone and you know they’re not fully ready to be in a relationship, you will let them go,” she said in an iHeartRadio interview. “And it sucks to be the one who has to let something go and cut someone loose when you don’t want to, but I think you have to be selfless in relationships when you know that that is not the right time. And if you make that decision and that person is supposed to be in your life, they’ll come back.”

Breaking Down Taylor Swift I Can Do It With a Broken Heart Playlist
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Similar sentiments are expressed in the lyrics of “Clean (Taylor’s Version)” and “Begin Again (Taylor’s Version).” In 2015, Swift opened up about the moment she realized an ex no longer occupied space in her brain after a breakup.

“‘Clean’ I wrote as I was walking out of Liberty in London,” she told Elle. “Someone I used to date — it hit me that I’d been in the same city as him for two weeks and I hadn’t thought about it. When it did hit me, it was like, ‘Oh, I hope he’s doing well.’ And nothing else.”

Crucial to the process of acceptance is forgiveness, a theme present in “Innocent (Taylor’s Version),” one of the playlist’s final tracks. It was written in the aftermath of West’s now-infamous VMAs interruption, with Swift acknowledging that the incident doesn’t define him and expressing hope that he’ll change. (Whether she included the song on the playlist as a message to herself or as a generous nod to her ex, it’s worth noting that Alwyn was 32 — “and still growing up now” — at the time of their split. West, for his part, was 32 when she released the track.)

“I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” concludes with “Breathe (Taylor’s Version),” a reminder that reaching acceptance is hardly easy. “But people are people and sometimes it doesn’t work out,” she sings. “And nothin’ we say is gonna save us from the fallout.”

Swift will seemingly have a lot to say on The Tortured Poets Department — and fans will have even more to analyze about her split from Alwyn — but one thing is certain: she’s ready to begin again.

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