2 months after the release of Taylor Swift’s 12th (how has time flown that much) studio album, I finally feel like I’ve processed it. I have my favorites, I’ve over analyzed the lyrics, and seen many of the tracks performed live (through a TikTok livestream but still). So now I finally feel like I can determine the best Tortured Poets Department bridges.

It’s been 18 years since the music world was formally introduced to a 16-year-old country singer-songwriter named Taylor Swift. And from that young age, it was Swift’s songwriting ability that garnered her respect in the industry. And adoring fans.

There is simply no room for debate when it comes to the fact that Taylor Swift is an incredible songwriter. She has an innate ability to write not only intricate lyrics but catchy hooks. And of course, there is her unparalleled ability to relate to her audience. Whether on “Teardrops On My Guitar”, a track from her 2006 debut album, or a song off her latest release The Tortured Poets Department.

While Taylor’s talent for songwriting was clearly evident from the early days, she has continued to show masterful growth in her songwriting. She takes great pride in perfecting her craft, and that she has done. Throughout the years though, and one of the things Taylor does better than anyone? Writing a bridge. In my opinion, bridges are where she shines the brightest lyrically.

What Is A “Bridge?”

You may be asking “What exactly is the bridge of a song?”. Essentially it connects two sections of the song (i.e. a verse and chorus) but follows a slightly different structure. In terms of Taylor Swift her bridges typically fall after the second chorus. A bridge often features a different tempo than the rest of the song and helps tell the story. And as one of, if not the, greatest songwriters of our generation storytelling is at the heart of every Taylor Swift track.  If you are any sort of Taylor fan you can probably rattle off your favorite right bridge right now.

Taylor can truly do it all when it comes to songwriting- from catchy pop hits like “Shake It Off” and “Anti Hero” to lyrical masterpieces that rip your heart out. There are countless examples of this throughout her now 18+ year career, and she only gets better as time progresses. This is evidenced by the Tortured Poets Department bridges. It was hard to narrow down the best of the best on this masterful piece of work. These are in no particular order, simply the way they came into my head. Enjoy, and if you have these stuck in your head all day, it’s just another example of her genius.

You can read the full list pre-TTPD of her 13 best bridges here!

8 Best Tortured Poets Department Bridges

  • The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived

    Were you sent by someone who wanted me dead?Did you sleep with a gun underneath our bed?Were you writing a book? Were you a sleeper cell spy?In fifty years, will all this be declassified?And you’ll confess why you did itAnd I’ll say, “Good riddance”‘Cause it wasn’t sexy once it wasn’t forbiddenI would’ve died for your sinsInstead, I just died insideAnd you deserve prison, but you won’t get timeYou’ll slide into inboxes and slip through the barsYou crashed my party and your rental carYou said normal girls were boringBut you were gone by the morningYou kicked out the stage lightsBut you’re still performing

    “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” is many many people’s pick for the best bridge on “The Tortured Poets Department”. This is certainly amplified by the incredible performance on the Eras Tour. The lyrics are raw and angry, demanding an explanation. The two lines that stand out the most to me (though the whole thing speaks for itself as a masterpiece) are “in 50 years will all this be declassified” and “cause it was sexy once it wasn’t forbidden”. 

  • Who's Afraid Of Little Old Me?

    So tell me everything is not about me
    But what if it is?
    Then say they didn’t do it to hurt me
    But what if they did?
    I wanna snarl and show you just how disturbed this has made me
    You wouldn’t last an hour in the asylum where they raised me
    So all you kids can sneak into my house with all the cobwebs
    I’m always drunk on my own tears, isn’t that what they all said?
    That I’ll sue you if you step on my lawn
    That I’m fearsome and I’m wretched and I’m wrong
    Put narcotics into all of my songs
    And that’s why you’re still singin’ along

    I love this one! “Who’s Afraid of Little Old” is a feisty song that Taylor herself described as being about “being a little bit crazy”. And I know I can relate to that. The line the bridge opens with “So tell me everything is not about me… but what if it is” hits home for me and I know a lot of other people as well. 

  • How Did It End?

    Say it once again with feeling
    How the death rattle breathing
    Silenced as the soul was leaving
    The deflation of our dreaming
    Leaving me bereft and reeling
    My beloved ghost and me
    Sitting in a tree
    D-Y-I-N-G

    The cadence of this bridge is a lot of what makes it so memorable. The highlight for me is how it ends (yes that was intended) with “my beloved ghost and me, sitting in a tree, d-i-y-i-n-g” and it’s play on the playful kids rhyme. 

  • imgonnagetyouback

    I can feel it coming, humming in the way you move
    Push the reset button, we’re becomin’ something new
    Say you got somebody, I’ll say I got someone too
    Even if it’s handcuffed, I’m leavin’ here with you
    Bygones will be bygone, eras fadin’ into gray (Fading into gray)
    We broke all the pieces, but still wanna play the game (Oh)
    Told my friends I hate you, but I love you just the same
    Pick your poison, babe, I’m poison either way

    “Imgonnagetyouback” is an underrated song on the second part of The Tortured Poets Department titled The Anthology. It’s the bridge (unsurprisingly) that stands out to me about this track. “Told my friends I hate you but I love you just the same” is so relatable to someone who is having to convince themselves they feel the way they know they should and do want to. And the cleverness of “pick your poison, babe, I’m poison either way” is also another gem! 

  • The Prophecy

    And I sound like an infant
    Feeling like the very last drops of an ink pen
    A greater woman stays cool
    But I howl like a wolf at the moon
    And I look unstable
    Gathered with a coven ’round a sorceress’ table
    A greater woman has faith
    But even statues crumble if they’re made to wait
    I’m so afraid I sealed my fate
    No sign of soulmates
    I’m just a paperweight in shades of greige
    Spending my last coin so someone will tell me it’ll be okay
    Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

    Perhaps it’s because this song seems as if it was born from the thoughts in my head. That it is everything I fear, and am begging for. I relate to every word of this song, especially the bridge. “I’m so afraid I’ve sealed my fate” yes—just another example of Taylor putting to words my life. 

  • But Daddy I Love Him

    God save the most judgmental creeps
    Who say they want what’s best for me
    Sanctimoniously performing soliloquies I’ll never see
    Thinkin’ it can change the beat
    Of my heart when he touches me
    And counteract the chemistry
    And undo the destiny
    You ain’t gotta pray for me
    Me and my wild boy and all of this wild joy
    If all you want is gray for me
    Then it’s just white noise, and it’s just my choice

    “But Daddy I Love Him” is one of if, not my favorite tracks on this album, and I think it’s hands down my favorite bridge. It elicits feelings in me every single time I hear it. I have to scream it, and feel the words with every fiber of my being. I especially love the line “God save the most judgemental creeps who say they want whats best for me”. Because I certainly have some of those in my life currently. And some of them will probably read this. 

  • So Long London

    And you say I abandoned the ship
    But I was going down with it
    My white-knuckle dying grip
    Holding tight to your quiet resentment

    And my friends said it isn’t right to be scared
    Every day of a love affair
    Every breath feels like rarest air
    When you’re not sure if he wants to be there

    I love “So Long London” I’ll probably always be biased towards track 5’s. And this one encompasses exactly what I thought The Tortured Poets Department would be. You can feel the pain in Taylor’s voice as she sings these lyrics. And who can’t relate to being in a situation where you’re mentally exhausted from trying, but then walking away makes you look like you “abandoned ship”. 

  • The Black Dog

    And you say I abandoned the ship
    But I was going down with it
    My white-knuckle dying grip
    Holding tight to your quiet resentment

    And my friends said it isn’t right to be scared
    Every day of a love affair
    Every breath feels like rarest air
    When you’re not sure if he wants to be there

    I love “So Long London” I’ll probably always be biased towards track 5’s. And this one encompasses exactly what I thought The Tortured Poets Department would be. You can feel the pain in Taylor’s voice as she sings these lyrics. And who can’t relate to being in a situation where you’re mentally exhausted from trying, but then walking away makes you look like you “abandoned ship”. 

  • The Tortured Poets Department

    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

    This entire song is a masterpiece. “Six weeks of breathing clean air, I still miss the smoke” everyone who has ever walked away from someone or something they loved, when they know it’s for the best, can relate to this. 

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