Taylor Swift rightfully teaches the world about The Blue Nile

Find out more about the band Taylor Switt refers to on her new album.
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Taylor Swift's new album The Tortured Poets Department out last week was full of hidden secrets that are gradually being revealed. One of the biggest was the surprise that it was a double album. That means it’s taken longer to absorb the songs and their lyrics. Although there are millions of Swifites and others poring over them.

On one song, “Guilty As Sin” there’s what seems an obvious reference to Swift’s past boyfriend Matt Healy. But that also links in with the brilliantly talented Scottish band, The Blue Nile. The song starts with the lyrics revealing Healy had shared a song by The Blue Nile with her. “Drownin’ in the Blue Nile / He sent me ‘Downtown Lights’ / I hadn’t heard it in a while.” 

Healy is a self-acknowledged huge fan of The Blue Nile. He’s declared them as his favorite band of all time. Healy has also revealed previously that his band, The 1975, took “The Downtown Lights” as the inspiration for their own song and single “Love It If We Made It”. Looks like he wanted to make sure Swift had the chance to appreciate the original song too. 

Who are The Blue Nile that Taylor Swift mentions? 

The Blue Nile are incredibly well regarded musically, but underrated in terms of no huge chart hits and their best two albums were back in the 1980s with sales peaking only at around 60,000 each. That song Swift quoted, “The Downtown Lights”, (she missed off ‘The’, maybe it just didn’t scan well in her lyrics!) made it to number ten in Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart. The band rarely sought the headlines and tended to keep a low profile. All of which means many of Swift's fans will and others will probably not know much of The Blue Nile. 

For those unaware, a quick potted history of the band would start with Paul Buchanan, Robert Bell and Paul Moore meeting up at Glasgow University and forming The Blue Nile. Their name was selected based on the title of a 1962 book. The band's website refers to them as Scotland’s masters of mood music. They have a distinctive style using synths and other electronic instruments combined with superb guitar work, some excellent slap bass from Bell, and brilliant vocals from Buchanan. His voice suits their style perfectly.

“A Walk Across The Rooftops” is the title song from their first album. The 1984 album is just seven songs long and also contains “Tinseltown In The Rain”, possibly their most well-known song and a real classic of its kind.  Especially so if you know Glasgow as it evokes memories of the city very well.

More from The Blue Nile

Their second album Hat’s in 1986 has “The Downtown Lights” as the standout of the again seven song long album. It’s not just Healy and perhaps Swift who were fans of the song. Both Annie Lennox and Rod Stewart are among those who have covered it on their albums. Hat’s is another amazing record, slightly funky guitar and bass slides more than slaps, Buchanan again singing his heart out. 

The two later albums are also worth hearing. Peace At Last (1996) has a different feel to it, slightly more acoustic overall. Their last album High in 2005 saw a return to the style of the first two albums. It was their highest charting album reaching number 10 in the UK. It was well acclaimed as a very worthy follow-up, despite so many years elapsing between albums. 

The band’s low-profile approach means there hasn’t been anything officially confirming that the band has dissolved. It started to look that way when only Buchanan and Bell played on the High album tour. They spoke briefly of having lost contact with Moore at that time. Maybe the power of a Swift mention will give their music a fresh boost and find some new listeners, even if there is no new The Blue Nile music to follow.

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