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Red (Taylor's Version) Is More Than Just an Album

Written by Suzanne Crow

November 21, 2021

I am both thriving and unwell after the release of Red (Taylor’s Version). The original version of Red is a musical masterpiece, but Taylor’s Version is even better, with unreleased songs, her musical growth on full display, and of course, a 10 minute version of her popular song “All Too Well.” As Taylor wrote on her Instagram, “Musically and lyrically, Red resembled a heartbroken person. It was all over the place, a fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end. Happy, free, confused, lonely, devastated, euphoric, wild, and tortured by memories past.” Listening to Red (Taylor’s Version) evokes many emotions in me and reminds me of past experiences, and I’m sure anyone else who has been listening to the album can relate.

Red (Taylor’s Version) has taken many of us back to nine years ago when the original version of the album was released. When Red first came out in 2012, I was 11 and in 6th grade. Needless to say, at that age, I couldn’t relate to what most of the songs were about, but my friends and I sure acted like we could. Hearing Taylor’s Version of songs like “I Almost Do,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “Red,” and “We Are Never Getting Back Together” makes me nostalgic for the 11-year-old version of myself who didn’t yet know what heartbreak felt like but listened to these songs on repeat and belted them out with my friends.

Listening to Red (Taylor’s Version) has also transported me back to the moments in time when I first connected to the lyrics of certain songs on the album. Hearing Taylor’s Version of “The Last Time (feat. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol)” reminds me of my obsession with the song during my junior year of high school. Something about the song really resonated with me at the time, and looking back, I think it was the idea of doing something for the last time, and whether or not we are aware it is our last time doing it. I still think this is one of her most underrated and best songs. Another song that reminded me of a time in my life is Taylor’s Version of “All Too Well.” In 2020, the original version of “All Too Well” was my most listened to song on Spotify because, like many others who love the song, I was trying to stop thinking about a past relationship, but all I seemed to be able to do was remember it all too well.

Red (Taylor’s Version) can’t be talked about without addressing why Taylor is re-recording her albums in the first place. Taylor does not own the master recording copyrights to the songs on any of her albums preceding her 2019 album Lover. And unfortunately, most artists don’t. Taylor explained on Late Night with Seth Meyers that she made it clear she wanted to buy her music, but her music was sold to someone else. Taylor’s music was actually sold twice without her knowledge. Her music was first sold to Scooter Braun when Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine Records and then sold again when Braun passed over the ownership to Shamrock Holdings. It’s a terrible situation, but Taylor made the best of it and decided to re-record all of her music that she didn’t own. So not only does Taylor own her re-recorded albums, but she has added previously unreleased songs to them — Taylor calls these her “From The Vault” songs. Hopefully, what Taylor is doing will inspire a change in the music industry for record contracts to be written more fairly and encourage other artists, especially women, to try to own their master recording copyrights.

Speaking of Taylor’s songs from the vault, the song on Red (Taylor’s Version) that me, most other Taylor Swift fans, and Taylor herself (as she said on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon) were most excited for was Taylor’s 10 minute version of “All Too Well.” I expected it to be amazing, but it exceeded my expectations — I gasped while listening to it the first time because it is just that good. As Taylor explained on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the 10 minute version of “All Too Well” is the original version of the song before she cut it down. While I love the five minute version, it’s so nice to hear the longer, original version of the song. Another song from the vault I was also really excited for and that exceeded my expectations was Taylor’s Version of “Better Man.” Taylor wrote the song for Red, but after it didn’t make it on the album, she gave the song to Little Big Town. And, don’t get me wrong, I love Little Big Town’s version of “Better Man,” but I am so happy to also have Taylor’s version of it.

It’s safe to say we are all in a different place listening to Red (Taylor’s Version) than we were nine years ago listening to the original album. This includes Taylor, who explained on Late Night with Seth Meyers that she is in a much happier place this time around. Red (Taylor’s Version) is more than just an album — it’s a chance to re-experience music we first heard years ago, an opportunity to experience some songs for the first time, something we can relate to when feeling almost any kind of emotion, and proof that women can and should own their music. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor, and go listen to Red (Taylor’s Version)!

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