The folklore love triangle — What’s so special?



Let’s start with my introduction. Although I have a small one on my staff profile, I think introducing myself here will be a good idea too. 


I’m Maddie Allen, and I’m a freshman. This is my first year in journalism, and I love it so far. This class is by far my favorite class, and it’s helped me a lot.


On my profile, I’m sure you’ll see lots about music. Books. Taylor Swift! Maybe even some movies? I’m not sure how exactly I want my profile to be just yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon. All I know is that I want to write a lot about my interests, whether that’s doing monthly book reviews, new album reviews, or even movie reviews! 


I’ll be doing a lot similar to those few ideas, so if that sounds interesting. I’d love for you to stay tuned!


Anyways, let’s get into dissecting Taylor Swifts’ “folklore” album


We’ve ALL sat back and listened to Taylor Swift at least once in our lives. Don’t lie, you have too. Pretending to hate Taylor Swift is SO NOT in. 


Whether you just listen to her basics – Like “Shake it Off,” Or “You belong with me,” Or maybe you’re up to date, listening to her third most recent album, “folklore.” Who doesn’t love “folklore?” 


Taylor Swift’s indie album came out with a 24-hour notice on July 24th, 2020. Although this album just seems like a regular album, It isn’t.  Not one bit.


This album includes characters, lore, and recurring themes. The songs on this album are sung as if they’re different characters. And I LOVE that. Who, other than Taylor Swift, is smart enough to write an album as if it is a movie franchise?


In this album, three of the sixteen songs are most relevant to the love triangle. Those three songs are; “betty,” “cardigan,” and “august.” Now, let’s get to the part where I completely explain the “folklore”love triangle, leaving out ZERO details. 




The second song on the album, “cardigan,” is one of my favorites. The lyrics hit hard, almost immediately.


This song is pretty much our first look into the little love story we’ve got going on.


 In the Long pond studio sessions, a Disney plus original film produced by Taylor swift about her “folklore” album, Taylor explains how Cardigan is written from the older perspective of Betty, who is one of our three characters in the love triangle. Taylor explains that in this song, Betty is looking back and reflecting on her relationship with James after years have passed.


In my opinion, this is the most mature and reminiscing song out of the three. Whereas, the other two songs are less mature, coming from teenage perspectives.


Because “cardigan” comes before the other two songs, it makes it just a bit harder to connect details between the songs.


I think this is the type of song you should listen to after you’ve heard the other two so that it’s easier to make connections between lyrics and moods in the songs. 


Now, let’s get down to some of the lyrics. The first few lines in the song are.


“Vintage tee, brand new phone.


 High heels on cobblestone. 


 When you are young they assume you know nothing.” 


Right off the bat, we were already hitting hard. Betty is reminiscing about her time with James. 


Although this doesn’t seem important yet, we’ll be coming back to the ‘high heels on cobblestones’ part once we get to betty. The song from James’ perspective.


A few lines later, Taylor says this.


“And when I felt like I was an old cardigan,


 under someone’s bed.


 You put me on and said I was your favorite.”


This line sort of explains how maybe Betty was a bit lost and insecure before James. And then, when she met him, he put her on and said she was his favorite. Most likely, he made her feel better about herself. Held by someone.


But then, the next line says this.


“Chase two girls, lose the one.”


So, it’s pretty obvious that even though they had good memories, they had bad ones too. She’s not reminiscing on only the bad memories, nor is she reminiscing on only the good ones. She sees how the relationship started well and ended badly. 


The one, whom James had lost, was clearly Betty. He chased two girls, Betty and Inez, and lost the one. Betty. 


A few lines later, nearing the end of the song, this is said.


“I knew you’d miss me once the thrill expired.”


And apparently, that seems to be EXACTLY what happened. Once James’ thrill in his summer fling expired, he knew he wanted Betty back. 


“And you’d be standin’ in my front porch light,”


So, this must mean that at some point, James must have come back to Betty to apologize. And maybe even to tell her that he still loves her? 


We don’t know, though, because the last few lines are.


“I knew you’d come back to me..”


And as those few lines fade out to the end of the song, we are left with all of our thoughts.


Did Betty take James back? Did she not? What could’ve happened, that night, when James apologized? 


Is Betty looking back on this night as a good night, or as a bad night? 


I sure hope she didn’t take James back. 




This song is not Betty’s point of view, not James’s point of view. This song is James’ summer fling, Inez’s point of view. 


Inez is the other woman, we could say. And this song is her reminiscing on her time with James. Although, with the many repeated lines and only a small amount of memories she has with him, we can tell that this was a short affair. Probably meaning nothing to James, or at least not meaning as much to James as it had meant to Inez. 


Inez was young and inexperienced with relationships. So obviously, every moment and memory that she shared with James would be a big deal to her. 


We don’t exactly know that her name is Inez, but it’s just been assumed as Inez, because of Betty ( The song, not the person. ). The name of the song is more likely about the summer month they shared together, and less likely her name. 


In the song, she says that August slipped away fast, and she wonders if James will ever call her again once school starts. 


Your back beneath the sun

Wishin’ I could write my name on it

Will you call when you’re back at school?

I remember thinkin’ I had you

But I can see us lost in the memory

August slipped away into a moment in time

‘Cause it was never mine

And I can see us twisted in bedsheets

August sipped away like a bottle of wine

‘Cause you were never mine


It’s quite obvious that Inez is wishing she had more of a claim on James, but she also realizes that he was never fully hers. 


These tiny memories are her only a few memories from her incredible summer love. 


I think any teenage girl can relate to this, we ALL romanticize the tiny things that happen between us and boys. No matter how big or small of a moment. 

Now, those aren’t the first lines, so let’s start with the first lines. 


Taylor Swift beautifully and poetically portrays summer love with these lines.


Salt air, and the rust on your door


I never needed anything more


Whispers of “Are you sure?”


“Never have I ever before”


The first line is already letting us know that this is set in the summertime, maybe near the ocean. 


The line ‘I never needed anything more,” is something that typically, most teens think and believe when they are experiencing their first love. 


Then, the last two lines make it obvious that James must’ve taken Inez’s innocence. 


The rest of the song is filled with repeating their few memories from their illicit affair. 


An illicit affair as in, their relationship was never capable of being enjoyed publicly because of James’s other relationship, with Betty.


Back when we were still changin’ for the better


Wanting was enough


For me, it was enough


To live for the hope of it all


Cancel plans just in case you’d call


And say, “Meet me behind the mall”


So much for summer love and saying “us”


Inez let her entire life revolve around this summer love. It happens to the best of us, we all become blinded by love at some point.


She romanticizes these few moments knowing that James was never exclusively hers or exclusively involved with her. 


Now finally, the last lines.


‘Cause you were never mine


Never mine


But do you remember?


Remember when I pulled up and said “Get in the car”


And then canceled my plans just in case you’d call?


Again, Inez reminds us and herself that James had never been just hers. 


Remember the very last two lines though, because these will become relevant. 


Now, let’s end with this.


August is all about a teenage girl in love with a guy who is exclusive with another girl, she thinks of the moments they shared, all while knowing he was never really hers.





The title of this song is somebody’s name.


When the title of a song is a name, the name and/or song is very significant.


 Betty is told from a male, James’s, perspective.


James in this song is trying to apologize to Betty, the girl he’d cheated on with Inez in the summer. 


James misses Betty, and he wants and needs to tell her something. 


Here’s the first line.


Betty, I won’t make assumptions


About why you switched your homeroom but


I think it’s ’cause of me


 Betty, one time I was riding on my skateboard


When I passed your house


It’s like I couldn’t breathe


You heard the rumors from Inez

 You can’t believe a word she says


 Most times, but this time it was true


 The worst thing that I ever did


Was what I did to you


So, we already seem to see James regretting what he did to Betty. 


Betty must’ve been mad at him for cheating on her with Inez, so she switched homerooms once school started up again. 


James knows it’s because of him, he knows it’s because of what he did.


 Obviously, James still has lots of love for Betty. 


There’s lots of regret in James’s words and tone.


But if I just showed up at your party


Would you have me?

Would you want me?


Would you tell me to go f**k myself?

Or lead me to the garden?


In the garden would you trust me


 If I told you it was just a summer thing?


I’m only 17, I don’t know anything


But I know I miss you


This is the chorus, and god is it good. 


James is wondering if he could still have a chance with his Betty, or if she was completely done with him. 


I mean, would you take him back after he cheated on you? 


I don’t know, man. James misses Betty, but does she miss him? 


Now let’s skip a few lines.


I was walking home on broken cobblestones


Just thinking of you when she pulled up like


 A figment of my worst intentions


 She said “James, get in, let’s drive”


Those days turned into nights


Slept next to her, but


I dreamt of you all summer long


Poor Inez. 


The first line here is talking about him walking home on broken cobblestones, while in “cardigan”, Betty’s also talking about her high heels on cobblestones. 


There was a party or something, where one ran off and the other went to chase them.


They fought, for sure. And that’s when Inez pulled up and said get in the car. 


This line has lots of importance, in my opinion. Mostly because it shares connections between both of the other songs in the triangle. Inez and James started to hang out more, and as Inez fell harder and harder, James was only using her as his rebound for Betty.


If I was Betty, I’d be mad at James for breaking both my heart and Inez’s heart.


Plus, doesn’t it seem like James is blaming this all on Inez? It’s not her fault for being hopelessly in love, is it? 


Stupid James. 


Let’s wrap this up with the last few lines, yeah?


The only thing I wanna do


 Is make it up to you


So I showed up at your party


Yeah, I showed up at your party


Yeah, I showed up at your party


Will you have me?


Will you love me?


Will you kiss me on the porch


In front of all your stupid friends?


If you kiss me, will it be just like I dreamed it


I’m only 17, I don’t know anything


But I know I miss you


Standing in your cardigan


Kissin’ in my car again


Stopped at a streetlight


You know I miss you.


Does this mean they had their rekindling after all? Did James’s apology work? 


Now, this is a very controversial topic. 


Would you end up taking James back, or would you hate him forever? It’s unclear as to what happened after this, considering Cardigan is Betty looking back at the relationship with hatred. 


But, the ending of Betty makes it seem like maybe they did work out again. 


I personally wouldn’t have taken back James. 


There are lots of red flags here, no matter how catchy and heartwarming the song Betty is.


James might’ve had a good apology, and he might’ve missed Betty, but that does not help the fact that he CHEATED on Betty. Nor does it help the fact that he led on a completely different girl for the entire summer.


If he were going to cheat – which he shouldn’t have – why couldn’t he have at least cheated with someone that he cared about? Not somebody he wants to lead. 


Anyways, thank you so much for reading through my first piece on the ArapahoeXtra. I had so much fun diving into the album and dissecting these three songs, and I’m so excited to keep on writing more and more for the Xtra.


Go listen to “folklore”. NOW!