A Guide to Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Bonus Versions

Feature Guide to Taylor Swift The Tortured Poet Department Bonus Versions 2024 Grammys
Taylor Swift Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Taylor Swift is treating her fans to more than one version of her upcoming 11th studio album.

Three editions of The Tortured Poets Department, the original and two bonus versions, will be released on Friday, April 19. In addition to the 16 songs from the standard edition, each album variation will feature one of three bonus tracks titled “The Manuscript,” “The Bolter” and “The Albatross.”

While many fans believed Swift’s next album release would be Reputation (Taylor’s Version), the singer surprised fans by announcing The Tortured Poets Department at the 2024 Grammys.

“[The way I can celebrate] is by telling you a secret that I’ve been keeping from you for the past two years, which is that my brand new album comes out April 19,” she said while accepting the award for Best Pop Vocal Album at the February 2024 awards ceremony. “It’s called The Tortured Poets Department and I’m going to go post the cover right now backstage.”

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She followed up the reveal by announcing the album’s two bonus versions during her Eras Tour concerts in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia.

In true Swiftie fashion, fans wasted no time theorizing about the possible meanings behind the different album versions and their bonus tracks, namely how they may be connected to her relationship with ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn.

Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about the different versions of The Tortured Poets Department:

Guide to Taylor Swift The Tortured Poet Department Bonus Versions Piano Eras Tour
Taylor Swift Graham Denholm/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

‘The Manuscript’

The bonus track “The Manuscript” will be included on vinyl, CD and cassette versions of the original album edition, the cover of which shows Swift lying down on white bed sheets sporting what looks like black lingerie. The song will seemingly not be released on digital or streaming upon the album’s release, though Swift has been known to digitally release bonus tracks — such as Midnight’s “Hits Different” and “You’re Losing Me” — after the fact.

Each of the album formats comes with its own collectibles, including never-before-seen pics, photo and lyric booklets, handwritten lyrics unique to each item, collectible album sleeves and more, according to Swift’s website.

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‘The Bolter’

Swift announced “The Bolter” edition of The Tortured Poets Department during a February Eras Tour concert in Melbourne. “Look at that cover, it’s so tortured [and] so poetic,” she said on stage. The cover shows Swift lying on what looks like the same bed as on the original cover artwork, but this time she has a melancholy look on her face.

The first bonus version, which was only available to purchase for a limited time on Swift’s website, also came in vinyl, CD and cassette and included similar collectible items as the original.

Guide to Taylor Swift The Tortured Poet Department Bonus Versions Piano Eras Tour 2
Taylor Swift Graham Denholm/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

This version’s bonus track, “The Bolter,” has been widely theorized to be about Swift’s former romance with Alwyn. Many Swifities believe the song’s title is a reference to how Swift and the actor were seen bolting into a car to avoid paparazzi after the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards. The exes kept their relationship out of the public eye throughout their six-year relationship, which ended in early 2023.

Others suspect the song could share meaning with author Frances Osborne’s 2010 book of the same name, which follows the story of Idina Sackville as she fled to Kenya after leaving multiple marriages and breaking societal norms.

While Swift did not reveal the track’s inspiration during her Melbourne concert, she described the album as being a “lifeline” for herself. “It sort of reminded me of why songwriting is something that actually gets me through life, and I’ve never had an album where I’ve needed songwriting more than I needed it on Tortured Poets,” she shared.

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‘The Albatross’

The Tortured Poets Department’s thurd bonus version, featuring the track “The Albatross,” was announced during a February Eras Tour stop in Sydney. “You know, it’s good to have options. Everyone likes options. I wanted to show you something if you would direct your attention to the main screen. This is an alternate cover for The Tortured Poets Department,” Swift told attendees while debuting the album’s artwork. “The Albatross” version’s cover sees Swift looking into the camera while wearing a white shirt and standing in front of the ocean.

The cover’s ocean setting has connections to the word “albatross” itself, as it can refer to a type of bird that resides near the ocean and can be found in Australia. According to Smithsonian magazine, albatross birds spend their first six years at sea, which some Swifties noted is the same length as the pop star’s relationship with Alwyn.

Metaphorically, “albatross” can also be used to describe “something that causes persistent deep concern or anxiety,” according to Merriam-Webster. Swift has yet to reveal the inspiration behind the track.

Much like the album’s other two versions, “The Albatross” edition of The Tortured Poets Department also comes with unique collectibles. The version is available to order on Swift’s website for a limited time.

‘The Black Dog’

Swift announced her fourth and “final edition” of The Tortured Poets Department during her March 2024 concert in Singapore.

“I just had a plan for Night 2. I kinda felt you’d be [excited and loud], so I kinda wanted to show you something that no one else has seen before,” Swift said during the concert. “If you want to look at the main screen, I want to show you something. This is the final edition of The Tortured Poets Department. It’s the final cover … [and] there’s a song called ‘The Black Dog.’ I can’t wait for you to hear it and I just appreciate the enthusiasm.”

As a metaphor, a black dog can be used to describe depressive symptoms or as an omen of death from ancient English folklore.