Music

The Starting Line Reacts to Taylor Swift’s ‘The Black Dog’ Lyric About the Band’s Song Being ‘Intertwined’ in Her Relationship

The Starting Line, the group behind the 2003 pop-punk classic “The Best of Me,” got a name-check on Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department album and posted a response to the pop star after hearing the song.

Swift references The Starting Line on the emotional ballad “The Black Dog,” found on one of four deluxe editions of her Tortured Poets physical release, and as track No. 17 on Swift’s complete 31-song The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology, made available on streaming services and via digital download on April 19.

The song begins with Swift’s realization that her former flame forgot to disable location tracking on his phone. It goes on to set the scene of what she imagines is playing out without her at a London pub.

“I just don’t understand/ How you don’t miss me in The Black Dog/ When someone plays The Starting Line/ And you jump up, but she’s too young/ To know this song that was intertwined/ In the magic fabric of our dreaming,” Swift sings on the chorus of “The Black Dog.” “Old habits die screaming.”

Later, Swift’s hurt turns to anger as her words shift to “And I hope it’s shitty in The Black Dog/ When someone plays The Starting Line/ And you jump up, but she’s too young/ To know this song that was intertwined/ In the tragic fabric of our dreaming/ ‘Cause tail between your legs, you’re leavin’.”

In a note posted on The Starting Line’s Instagram account on Friday, the band wrote: “Dear Taylor, we heard the song, thank you for name checking our band. We feel flattered and humbled by the reverberations of love that have come back to us as a result. It’s an honor to have TSL memorialized on such a lovely song. You didn’t have to do that, but you did, and we appreciate it wholeheartedly. Respect!”

Although Swift doesn’t name the song by The Starting Line she’s hearing in her head on “The Black Dog” — nor does she identify the romantic interest the song is about — her lyric could be alluding to “The Best of Me,” the lead single from TSL’s debut album, Say It Like You Mean It.

The 1975’s Matty Healy — who by all appearances Swift briefly dated in 2023 after also briefly being linked together a decade ago — happened to play a snippet of “The Best of Me” live on tour in New Zealand on April 21, 2023, and again on May 3, in the Philippines. On May 5, Healy was spotted attending Swift’s Eras Tour in Nashville. This was the first of several times he was photographed around or with her during the time period, sparking dating rumors for the pair.

“Shout-out to people in their 30s,” Healy said with a smile after his short “The Best of Me” cover, as seen in the clip above from The 1975’s show a year ago.

Fans have pointed out signs indicating Healy as the possible muse of title track “The Tortured Poets Department,” among other songs, on Swift’s latest release.

“Tell me what you thought about when you were gone/ And so alone/ The worst is over/ You can have the best of me,” The Starting Line’s Kenny Vasoli sings on the group’s “The Best of Me.” “We got older/ But we’re still young/ We never grew out of this feeling that we won’t give up.”

See the band’s thank-you letter to Swift for the shout-out on “The Black Dog” below. According to initial reports, on just its first day of release The Tortured Poets Department already marked Swift’s biggest sales week ever in the U.S., with 1.4 million copies in traditional album sales.

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