Taylor’s version

Taylor Swift’s ‘Red (Taylor’s version)’ is bringing fans back to their youth as they’ve begun to listen to her music in a new light.


Ansley Morris

‘Red’ original album cover shown on left and ‘Red (Taylor’s version)’ shown on right display the evolution of Taylor Swift’s music.

Ansley Morris, Associate Editor

Taylor Swift could easily be defined as one of the greatest and most well-known performers of our generation, and the music she gave us growing up is now coming back better than ever. Starting this past summer, some of Swift’s old tracks started to be re-released to ring in an era of revamped originals. This past Friday, she added to that with ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ as well as a groundbreaking short film to go along with an extended version of one of the songs on the album.

If you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of years, here’s a quick recap as to what’s been going on in the life of Taylor Swift. In 2019, Scooter Braun, Swift’s old manager, bought the rights to all the master copies of Taylor’s first six albums, meaning she no longer owned her own work. Shortly after that, Swift announced she would be re-recording and releasing the albums with the added titles of “Taylor’s version” to reclaim her life’s work.

Taylor’s versions are bringing both Taylor and fans back to their youth. ‘Red’ was the first concert I ever went to when I was 10 years old, and I can vividly remember how big of a fan I was and how in awe I was to see her in concert. Now, 8 years later, ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ has been released and I’ve been reintroduced to the tracks of my youth in a way that brings a whole different appreciation for the songs.

Especially with the release of the 10-minute version of ‘All Too Well’, I’m looking at Swift’s music in a light I hadn’t ever done before. Of course, I loved her music because of the catchy lyrics and beats, but now at age 18, I’ve started to admire her work as much more than just something to sing karaoke to in the car. By this I mean I’ve now been listening to what the lyrics are really saying and reading between the lines for underlying themes and messages my 9-year-old self would’ve never understood.

‘All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)’ is believed to be about her short-lived relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal while she was 19 and he was 29, and the short film directed and written by Swift gives fans a true insight as to the reality of the relationship. There are toxic aspects like screaming matches, gaslighting, a loss of innocence all masked by the brief shining moments that make it all seem worth it, but the film shows young Swift ultimately coming to the painful realization that that’s not what love or a relationship should be like.

Messages like this would’ve never been something a younger version of myself would’ve picked up on; I was just focused on the catchiness of the song. But now listening to this track alongside the powerful short film starring Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink, I hold Swift’s music in a whole new light, and I think that she intended for that to be the case.

A majority of her fan base first listened to these tracks with the same, innocent mindset I had when they first dropped, but now almost a decade or so later, we, as well as Swift, have grown up. Naturally, as time goes on, people go back and listen to the soundtracks of their youth, and probably find different meanings in the songs they once loved.

While it’s unfortunate that Swift lost the rights to her master copies, these new versions of her music almost force us to reevaluate the way we once listened to her tracks. The drop of ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ highlights the uncomfortable, yet honest realities of being dealt an unlucky hand with a relationship. When I think back to the Swift/Gyllenhaal relationship, I just recall a photo of them seeming happy and in love walking down the street. But after watching her short film and listening to the lyrics in a more mature mindset, I, as well as millions of other fans, see the truth behind what the relationship didn’t show.

Music is a window into the lives of the artists who produce the tracks, and a lot of the time, if we listen closely enough, we can find those hidden messages and relate them back to our own lives. This is exactly what’s happened as Swift has been flooding our radios and speakers with the new versions of her music. Taylor’s versions have shown us that not only can the icon drop record-breaking songs, but also allow us to think about the music of our youth in a new light.