Photo by Paolo Villanueva

“Folklore” lore explained

Frankie Colao-Pinyero




Taylor Swift’s ninth album, “Folklore,” follows the story of a love triangle between three characters, James, Betty, and Augustine, which is referenced at multiple points throughout the album. The concept of “Folklore” is that it is entirely fictional, contrasting Swift’s usual autobiographical tone. According to Swift, “the lines between fantasy and reality blur, and the boundaries between truth and fiction become almost indiscernible.”

The story is told in three songs throughout the album, “Betty,” “Cardigan,” and “August,” each song following one of the characters’ perspectives. The first song that references the triangle, “Cardigan,” is told through Betty’s perspective where she laments over James’ infidelity with Augustine. This is specifically referenced in the lyric, “Chase two girls, lose the one.”

James’ song, “Betty,” is also referenced in the lyric, “High heels on cobblestone,” which calls back to the line, “I was walking home on broken cobblestones just thinking of you when she pulled up like a figment of my worst intentions.” “Betty,” follows James in the process of apologizing to Betty, in which he eventually shows up to her party to get her back. The song also throws references back to “Cardigan,” when James and Betty get back together, saying, “Standing in your cardigan, kissing in my car again.” 

Finally, we reach Augustine’s perspective in the song “August.” Up until this point, the audience is meant to think of Augustine as the other woman, but it is then revealed that Augustine is actually incredibly sensitive and genuinely fell for James. This is mainly  reflected in the lyrics, “August sipped away like a bottle of wine, ‘cause you were never mine.” There are also references to “Betty” in the lines, “Remember when I pulled up and said, ‘Get in the car.’” 

The love triangle is also speculated to be referenced throughout other songs in the album, however, “Cardigan,” “Betty,” and “Augustine,” are the only confirmed songs pertaining to James, Betty, and Augustine.