‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ is all too good

How Swift turned heartbreak into a masterpiece


By Shannon Moore, Collegian Correspondent

On Nov. 12, over nine years since the album was originally released, Taylor Swift released “Red (Taylor’s Version).” Swift delivers thirty songs chock full of emotion: all her original music, recorded and reproduced, previously unreleased songs ‘From The Vault’ and the much anticipated 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” Her lyricism and storytelling ability shines, as she proves that an artist truly knows their work the best.

One might be wondering, ‘why rerecord in the first place?’ Prior to the release of her album “Lover” in 2019, Swift didn’t own her masters, the copyright recordings of her work. She owns the lyrics, as she wrote them, but not the recordings of the songs themselves. This meant she only got a chunk of the profits, and most of the money went back to the record label. Since she did write the lyrics, however, she was free to re-record. And re-record she did.

Swift is setting an example with the rereleases of these albums. She’s making a point about artist autonomy and standing up for yourself in the industry, especially as a woman. She’s been extremely vocal about this issue, ensuring that future artists know it’s ok to advocate for themselves. First year and fellow “Swiftie,” Meghan McNulty describes how happy she is that “she’s taking ownership after being controlled by her label for so long.” Other fans are “angry that she has to rerecord in the first place,” says first year political science major Emma Hoffman.

“Red” is an extremely nostalgic album for fans everywhere, especially this generation. Personally, I was 10 years old when this album was first released, and it was one of the first albums I ever listened to on my own. I was ecstatic when I heard Red was the next album to be rerecorded, as I was eager to relive the memories attached to my youth. Hoffman had a similar experience, stating “’Red’ is the album that made me a Swiftie. It was also one of the first albums I owned a CD of.”

The album is also bringing Swift fans together all across campus. First year environmental science major Kirsten Szala-Krotkov described this process, saying “I was just seeing someone say on Yik Yak, you can hear Taylor Swift all across campus.” This album is a way for people to relive their childhoods and listen to the songs that brought them so much joy and comfort. Hoffman said that she “was excited as a fan that we get to relive the nostalgia of previous eras,” to which Szala-Krotkov agreed. Personally, I’ve had conversations with people I’ve never talked to before this weekend because of Swift. This album is a connecting experience for diehard fans and casual listeners alike.

As for the album itself, Swift takes the heartbreak of the original to a whole new level. The recordings are more mature, both in Swift’s voice as well as the revamped production. McNulty points out that “you can really hear her matured voice and see how much she’s grown and developed over the years.” Some songs change entirely, for example “Girl At Home” has transformed from a country song to a hyper-pop ballad. The standouts, however, are the ‘From The Vault’ tracks, songs that Taylor wrote during the original Red era, but never released or recorded. Standouts include “Nothing New” featuring Phoebe Bridgers, an extremely vulnerable piece about growing up. Lyrics like “How can a person know everything at eighteen, but nothing at twenty two” are a punch in the gut, perfectly capturing how Swift views aging, specifically within the music industry. This is why Swift appeals to such a vast majority of listeners: she’s able to encapsulate an entire emotion in only a few words. She’s a master lyricist, which is why she’s still as big today as she was almost a decade ago.

The most anticipated and most loved track from the vault is “All Too Well (10-Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault).” On the original album, “All Too Well” was a stand-out, widely regarded as one of Swift’s best songs. She recounts a whirlwind relationship that impacted her greatly, capturing heartbreak and the wonder of love. With the release of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” Swift reveals that the song was originally meant to be 10 minutes long. She doesn’t pull any punches this time, targeting the mystery man long believed to be Jake Gyllenhaal with multiple digs about his age and behavior.

Hoffman, McNulty and Szala-Krotkov stated the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” as their favorite song off the album and I have to agree. With lyrics like “you kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath” and “I was never good at telling jokes, but the punchline goes ‘I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age,’” it’s no wonder this is a fan favorite. It’s a song to scream in the shower, a song to listen to when you’re angry or sad.

With the 10 minute version, Swift adds another layer of mastery to an already beloved classic, and the same can be said for the entire album. She’s always been about the fans, and even thanked them for allowing this album to happen, stating she would never have recorded if “you hadn’t emboldened me.” “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is a whirlwind of nostalgia and heartbreak. Even if you aren’t a self-proclaimed “Swiftie” like many others on campus, Taylor’s lyricism will carry you through. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself singing along too.

Shannon Moore can be reached at [email protected].