Get ‘Red’-y for an emotional rollercoaster with Taylor Swift’s newest re-record

Casey Braff

On Nov. 12, Taylor Swift released “Red (Taylor’s Version),” the second album in the past year that she has re-recorded. Swift plans

Courtesy of Republic Records
Posing on the cover of her newest re-recording, Taylor Swift released “Red” with 20 re-records and 10 new songs “From The Vault” on Nov. 10. (Courtesy of Republic Records)

to do the same with the rest of her first six albums after the masters, or ownership were sold to Scooter Braun by Big Machine Records without her knowledge in 2018. Then, in November 2021, Braun sold the masters to a private entity for a rumored $450 million, again, without Swift’s knowledge and without her receiving any of the profits. To rightfully own her projects, Swift is now in the process of re-releasing all of her albums up to 2019’s “Lover,” and fans everywhere were eager for the release of one of her most critically acclaimed albums.

“Red (Taylor’s Version),” the quintessential fall album, contains re-recordings of the 20 original songs and 10 “From The Vault” songs — tracks Swift wrote during the “Red” era but were cut from the album’s final form.

The most notable of these “From The Vault” songs is “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” which was ultimately cut down to five minutes. The new, unadulterated version delivers more biting and heart-wrenching lyrics, painting the picture of the man that broke Swift’s heart when she was only 20 years old. Swift sings about how “They say all’s well that ends well, but I’m in a new Hell/Every time you double-cross my mind/You said if we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine/And

that made me want to die.” Lyrics like these were likely cut due to their raw and personal nature in regards to Swift’s experiences, making the five-minute version more relatable to a wider audience.

Courtesy of NBC
Performing the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” from “Red (Taylor’s Version),” Swift was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live the day after she released the album. (Courtesy of SNL)

Even more powerful than the song is the short film that accompanied it. The film, directed and written by Swift, stars “Stranger Things” actress Sadie Sink and “Teen Wolf” star Dylan O’Brien. The storyline is speculated by the general public to portray the complicated and devastating relationship Swift had with Marvel star Jake Gyllenhaal. Many fans assume some songs on the album are about Gyllenhaal, especially “All Too Well,” given that they were dating when the album was written, among countless other clues. For example, she sings of how “I left my scarf there at your sister’s house.” This seems to reference how in 2010 Swift was photographed leaving Gyllenhaal’s sisters’ house on Thanksgiving without the scarf she was wearing while entering.

Courtesy of Taylor Swift Store
The “All Too Well” short film premiered on Nov. 13, starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. (Courtesy of Taylor Swift Store)

Swift brilliantly cast this film to truly reflect her and Gyllenhaal’s relationship — many of Sink and O’Brien’s kissing and romantic scenes were uncomfortable for the viewer because they are 19 and 30. This age gap is likely intentional as Sink is often viewed as a teenager by the public eye due to her role as 15-year-old Max from “Stranger Things,” while Dylan O’Brien has been a well-known heartthrob for years. Swift could be alluding to how she herself was dating a much older man, and how there was little commentary on their disturbing nine-year age difference. 

Other than “All Too Well,” vault songs for this album are arguably better than those from “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” The vault songs have a range of iconic collaborations, such as with Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton and Phoebe Bridgers. One standout is “Nothing New,” where Phoebe Bridgers sings a verse and does backup vocals. This song is a homage to growing up and not wanting to leave adolescence. “It’s like I can feel time moving/How can a person know everything at 18/But nothing at 22?” The song is striking because, now 31, Swift sings from the perspective of when she wrote the song in 2012. Another surprising song from the vault is “I Bet You Think About Me,” featuring Chris Stapleton. This

Infographic by Caroline Scharf

song has the country twang and Nashville roots many loved “Old Taylor” for, as her album “Red” was Swift’s transition from the country to pop arena. It’s almost the opposite of “All Too Well” but likely still directed at Gyllenhaal, with lines like “I bet you think about me when you say/‘Oh my god, she’s insane, she wrote a song about me.’” The must-see music video for this was released on Nov. 15, starring Miles Teller and directed by Blake Lively.

More of my favorite from the vault songs were “Run” featuring Ed Sheeran, “Babe” and “Better Man.” The lyrics were incredible and the production was catchy and heartfelt. The only disappointing song was “Message In A Bottle,” which sounded more pop-generic and less lyrically creative than most of Swift’s music, but it is still a fun listen. 

In regards to the songs that were originally on the album that she re-recorded, some of the heartbroken emotion and raw pain is missing from the break-up songs such as “The Last Time.” Even “All Too Well” expresses an angry tone rather than a heartbroken one. But, the mature voice and slightly altered backing tracks provide a new, fresh sound for Swift. The most notable change is in “Girl at Home,” one of the least popular songs in the original version. The new version has a completely different production, with a more synth-like sound and background beat, which is a definite improvement. 

Overall, this album is clearly more refined, but Taylor fans may be missing her younger voice and fading country accent. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” did not disappoint, bringing 10 incredible new songs out of the vault, making 20 old songs even better and letting Swift control her music, as every artist should be entitled to do.