Now, why she would need to use a pseudonym to take credit for a song that she was already credited with writing is a different question. His grandfather’s name is William. I think at least some of these fans are making a metajoke about the complete lack of evidence all the other theories about Bowery’s identity are relying on. Looking to the lyrics themselves, there’s a line in “Exile”—“We always walked a very thin line”—that fans have said evokes Fine Line, the name of Styles’ most recent album. Watch the video below! The complete lack of an internet trail is suspicious. (Then again, when Swift herself used a pen name, she chose a man’s name.) Apparently in 2012, when Styles and Swift were a couple, they stayed at the Bowery Hotel. It’s true that the two have collaborated before. It’s the same with Taylor and Calvin. 7–9 on this list. I agree with this. Whatever the case, the identity of a writer named William has not been this hotly contested since the Bard. In 2016, she revealed that, while she was dating DJ Calvin Harris, she secretly co-wrote one of his biggest hits under the name Nils Sjöberg. Why would Swift and Sheeran have to hide their collaboration when it’s common knowledge that they’re pals who’ve recorded songs together before? You’ve run out of free articles. The Bowery Ballroom is also one of the last places Styles performed before the coronavirus lockdown began. He has also played multiple times at the Bowery in New York. He has also mentioned that he wants to give public a break so they don’t hear too much of him. Now Ed could be an exception, but why would he give the song away and not just hold it for his next album? By submitting my information, I agree to receive personalized updates and marketing messages about Ed sheeran based on my information, interests, activities, website visits and device data and in accordance with the, Ed Sheeran Producing Two Tracks for One Direction. We encountered an issue signing you up. Not a bad theory, but my biggest issue is Aaron said that "William" brought Exile to Taylor and Taylor said that none of her friends knew she was working on anything. I think if it was Ed she would be more open about it, I think it being Harry Styles tracks better because they don't want to distract anyway from the work. You can cancel anytime. Lorde was working at the same time with Jack for her 3rd album, could be clue. i hope it isn’t him, that really left a sour taste in my mouth. Harmonica! In his song Nancy Mulligan (about his grandmother), he has a lyric that says “And I was William Sheeran”. One of them is that Swift admires his musical abilities quite a bit: When she announced the album on social media, she wrote that it gave her the chance to collaborate with “some musical heroes of mine,” before naming the National’s Aaron Dessner, Bon Iver, Jack Antonoff, and—sticking out among such distinguished company—Bowery. He probably wants to stay out of public eye and news headlines. Ed is a classic “nice guy” who acts like a friend to women but then engages in and benefits from misogyny. Please try again later. Watch the video below! Plus, the name itself smacks of fiction. He thinks the public needs a break from him. Send me updates about Slate special offers. All rights reserved. We also know that Ed sometimes incorporates Harmonica into his live performances ( And actually, any other professional person would want the credit. But the biggest strike against this theory might be that if Swift wrote a song with Mitchell, she’d probably want to shout it from the rooftops rather than hide it. Photo illustration by Slate. And sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one. Austin Swift. You can manage your newsletter subscriptions at any time. He just finishes massive tours and a super hit album. Because why not! And it still leaves us with no explanation for the “musical hero” aspect of the puzzle. Of course, the same could just as easily be true of someone else. Boys have come and gone over the years, but Swift’s commitment to upholding her reputation has been a constant. All of this adds up to the obvious: There simply is no William Bowery. By using our Services or clicking I agree, you agree to our use of cookies. The Sheeran truthers, like many of the factions here, don’t have much to go on. We also know that Ed sometimes incorporates Harmonica into his live performances ( In his song Nancy Mulligan (about his grandmother), he has a lyric that says “And I was William Sheeran”. Folklore’s release last week was no different from any of Swift’s previous outings in this respect, as online platforms quickly exploded with fan speculation about what it all means. Don’t a lot of people have grandfathers named William? I bet the tea will be spilled at some point through either Easter eggs, or something. Mitchell is definitely a musical hero to Swift, who has frequently cited the grande dame of folk music as one of her favorite artists. All signs point to William Bowery being another classic Swiftian mystery. Same. I actually hope it isn't him as I still am convinced it's Joe, He had his own shit going on it seems, More posts from the TaylorSwift community. Someone called him out on IG at the time and he commented: "I have been speaking directly to her, like I always do.". Slate relies on advertising to support our journalism. (This theory doesn’t seem to account for “William” at all.) Please try again. The reigning theory, however, is that William Bowery is another name for Swift's long-term actor boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. It’s not like a collab between them would be a huge news story. I can understand why someone on a break would be like "eh just don't use my name"....I'm getting Bilbo baggins vibes lmaooo. I don't know where they were basing that off of, but who knows.. maybe we will never actually know. Meanwhile, some other Twitter users have posited that Bowery is a different BTS member, Suga. This whole scheme may have been a way to stick it to Scooter Braun, with whom Swift is engaged in a very public feud with over ownership of her back catalog. Assuming a man’s name in a male-dominated field like the music industry was both a way to feel less conspicuous and a bit of insurance against those who would underestimate her. “Bowery” is not a particularly common surname, but it is the name of a street in downtown New York City—a place where Taylor Swift used to live and has sung about before. Lastly, Sheeran has a grandfather named William, one who’s appeared in his own lyrics. Unable to process your request at this time. honestly what if William Bowery is actually just joe going ham on the harmonica just for funsies. Based on what I've seen of this interview the William Bowery writer had a bigger role. Perhaps Alwyn didn’t exactly help write “Exile” or “Betty,” but Swift quoted his notes or texts to her in it. Where Swift had a reason for obscuring her brother’s alleged involvement a few months ago, none of this points to why she would give her brother a pseudonym this time. I think he’d have been too busy to write two songs with Taylor in such a short period of time. The theories about his identity are numerous, so let’s go through them one at a time, from least to most believable. And you'll never see this message again. The best of movies, TV, books, music, and more, delivered to your inbox three times a week. But some of them are probably just stans who want to believe. Perhaps so no one even tries to call or email him to ask him about the record I would assume. Needless to say, all of this seems highly circumstantial. Swift’s ex Styles has moonlighted with songwriting under a pseudonym before, and when he did, some thought the resulting songs were about Swift. Someone named William Bowery is credited with co-writing two songs on Folklore, “Betty” and “Exile.” But no one has ever heard of Bowery, and no one with that name has any previous songwriting credits to speak of, according to fans who have combed through all readily available reference material. His last Instagram post from December last year is about “taking a break”. I also heard that it may have been Lorde. I’m reasonably sure that if a songwriter with that name really existed, he would be tied to a chair being interrogated by a gang of militant Swifties right now. Join Slate Plus to continue reading, and you’ll get unlimited access to all our work—and support Slate’s independent journalism. As for whether Alwyn has enough musical talent to co-write a song with one of the music industry’s top artists, I was intrigued by one Reddit fan’s point that at least once before, in the song “Ronan,” Swift gave a songwriting credit to someone who didn’t directly contribute to writing that song but whose words she quoted on it. Ed just visited New York to launch + in the States. Some fans noted that Swift’s last confirmed use of a pen name was during the Nils Sjöberg affair, and the person’s identity she was covering up then was her own. To be fair, there is documented evidence that the two are actual friends, which is more than can be said for Nos. Alwyn is the guy Swift is dating right now, so if there are secret shoutouts on her album, shouldn’t they be to him? The strongest evidence for the Styles-as-Bowery case might be that it would indeed cause a frenzy if the media found out that Styles and Swift collaborated, which seems like a plausible motivation for pseudonym-ing up.