‘The Manuscript’ Lyrics: Why Taylor Swift Fans Think She’s Singing About Jake Gyllenhaal

Taylor Swift may be closing the book on her brief, but pivotal relationship with Jake Gyllenhall with “The Manuscript.”

On April 19, Swift dropped her record-breaking, 31-track double album The Tortured Poets Department. For the most part Swift appears to reflect on her summer situationship with the 1975 frontman Matty Healy following her six-year relationship with Joe Alwyn, but I’d like to draw your attention to one section of her introductory poem from Target’s exclusive Tortured Poets vinyl:

And so I was out of the oven and into the microwave

Out of the slammer and into a tidal wave

How gallant to save the empress from her gilded tower

Swinging a sword he could barely lift

But loneliness struck at that fateful hour

Low hanging fruit on her wine stained lips

He never even scratched the surface of me

None of them did

“None of them” likely includes Gyllenhaal, whose brief romance with Swift in 2010 is widely believed to have inspired her 2012 heartbreak ballad “All Too Well” and its extended 10-minute version released in 2021. Now, Swifties suspect “The Manuscript” closes the book depicted in Swift’s “All Too Well” short film starring actors Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien.

Many fans are connecting the songs’ dissection of the central couple’s age gap. In the bridge of “All Too Well,” Swift sings, “You said if we had been closer in age, maybe it would’ve been fine. And that made me want to die.” Swift was 20 when she dated 29-year-old Gyllenhaal dated in 2010.

Jake Gyllenhaal attends the 2021 LACMA Art+Film Gala on November 06, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

In “The Manuscript,” she writes, “In the age of him, she wished she was thirty and made coffee every morning in a Frеnch press. Afterwards she only atе kids’ cereal and couldn’t sleep unless it was in her mother’s bed.” She later continued, “She thought about how he said since she was so wise beyond her years everything had been above board. She wasn’t sure.”

While some Swiftstorians think “The Manuscript” lyrics actually reference John Mayer, who dated the pop star from 2009 to 2010 when he was 31 and she was 19 years old. However, the lyric “then she dated boys who were her own age” seemingly disproves that theory as Swift dated Gyllenhaal after that relationship came to an end. Who knows, maybe it’s both?

Meanwhile, TikTok user Caro Reiser believes the bridge of “The Manuscript” specifically references Swift’s experience directing the “All Too Well” short film. “Then the actors were hitting their marks and the slow dance was alight with the sparks and the tears fell in synchronicity with the score,” Swift sings. “And at last, she knew what the agony had been for.”

“We all remember Sadie Sink crying while ‘All Too Well’ was playing in the background,” Reiser said in her video, which has over 20,000 likes. “It’s about ‘All Too Well.’”

“I’m pretty sure it’s about Jake and how the process of releasing ATW10 and creating the short film allowed her to finally let go of what happened,” one X.com user agreed. “I think the line about her rereading her manuscript is her saying she no longer ‘remembers it all too well.’”

You can read all “The Manuscript” lyrics for yourself here:

Now and then she rereads the manuscript
Of the entire torrid affair
They compared their licenses
He said, “I’m not a donor but
I’d give you my heart if you needed it”
She rolled her eyes and said
“You’re a professional”
He said, “No, just a good samaritan”
He said that if the sex was half as good as the conversation was
Soon they’d be pushin’ strollers
But soon it was over

In the age of him, she wished she was thirty
And made coffee every morning in a Frеnch press
Afterwards she only atе kids’ cereal
And couldn’t sleep unless it was in her mother’s bed
Then she dated boys who were her own age
With dart boards on the backs of their doors
She thought about how he said since she was so wise beyond her years
Everything had been above board
She wasn’t sure

And the years passed
Like scenes of a show
The professor said to write what you know
Lookin’ backwards
Might be the only way to move forward
Then the actors
Were hitting their marks
And the slow dance
Was alight with the sparks
And the tears fell
In synchronicity with the score
And at last
She knew what the agony had been for

The only thing that’s left is the manuscript
One last souvenir from my trip to your shores
Now and then I reread the manuscript
But the story isn’t mine anymore

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