Take a bow if brushing your teeth this morning was also your 1,300th personal performance of Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault).” Anyone? No? That’s fine. It’s like the original version no longer exists – at least not this week; I’ve got extended breakdown kind of time right now as what the “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” lyrics mean sinks in.
To think this masterpiece was almost lost in the ether of a nearly empty rehearsal room. I don’t know who the sound guy was that thought to start recording before the start of Speak Now tour rehearsals, but I owe him so. damn. much. Imagine if this track hadn’t been captured in full? Imagine what the original “All Too Well” may’ve been if Taylor had to go home that night and recreate it from the mere memory of such an emotional, lengthy moment in time? But instead, we got what’s widely regarded as her best song, a heartbreaking breakup ballad reminiscing on a relationship that seemed to hold much more significance to one member than it did for the other.
Nine years after its original debut, thanks to years of incessant begging from her fanbase after Taylor revealed the original length of the track, my favorite song to cry to no longer tears my heart into a million pieces. No, now it takes those million pieces and pulverizes them as Taylor (allegedly) dives even deeper into the brief relationship she had with Jake Gyllenhaal, and how it built her up only to break her down. (She’ll never outright confirm the majority of the subjects of her songs’ true identities, but the easter eggs she’s known for dropping leave little doubt).
From new additions calling out the patriarchy or criticizing self-effacing jokes to the old classics that knew how to hurt us right from the start, here are the new lyrics and meanings from “All Too Well.”
I walked through the door with you, the air was cold But something 'bout it felt like home somehow And I left my scarf there at your sister's house And you've still got it in your drawer, even now Oh, your sweet disposition and my wide-eyed gaze We're singing in the car, getting lost upstate Autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place And I can picture it after all these days And I know it's long gone and That magic's not here no more And I might be okay, but I'm not fine at all Oh, oh, oh 'Causе there we arе again on that little town street You almost ran the red 'cause you were looking over at me Wind in my hair, I was there I remember it all too well Photo album on the counter, your cheeks were turning red You used to be a little kid with glasses in a twin-sized bed And your mother's telling stories 'bout you on the tee-ball team You taught me about your past, thinking your future was me
The extended track stays faithful to the original through the first half of the third verse, detailing several trips Taylor and her boyfriend took together.
Starting with a visit to his sister’s house, where Taylor left her infamous scarf behind (something Maggie Gyllenhaal revealed in a 2017 interview with Watch What Happens Live that she’s always been confused about – she has no idea if it’s at her house or not!), Taylor describes how even the very first time she set foot inside left her feeling at home. This indicates purely positive feelings at this point in the relationship; if only she knew what was coming next.
Through a road trip to upstate New York and time spent with his mother, the following two verses detail how the beginning of their time together felt like a turning point for her, leading her to believe that they had the potential to last.
Meanwhile, the juxtaposition of the pre-chorus and chorus openly acknowledges the loss of hope, and that loss fights with the good memories as she tries to move on.
And you were tossing me the car keys, "F*ck the patriarchy" Keychain on the ground, we were always skipping town And I was thinking on the drive down, "Any time now He's gonna say it's love," you never called it what it was 'Til we were dead and gone and buried Check the pulse and come back swearing it's the same After three months in the grave And then you wondered where it went to as I reached for you But all I felt was shame and you held my lifeless frame
The remainder of the third verse reveals the first set of originally scrapped lyrics, detailing the moments where the relationship broke down the most – insight that we never got the first time around – especially when you view the short film alongside them. A song that first seemed to innocently wonder where things had gone wrong, evaluating the faults on both sides, suddenly became so much darker. What went wrong was hiding just behind the curtain all along.
Tossing the car keys to her mid-fight, with no real aim, and refusing to ever acknowledge even the possibility of the feelings that she thought were developing between them.
And I know it's long gone and There was nothing else I could do And I forget about you long enough To forget why I needed to 'Cause there we are again in the middle of the night We're dancing 'round the kitchen in the refrigerator light Down the stairs, I was there I remember it all too well And there we are again when nobody had to know You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath Sacred prayer and we'd swear To remember it all too well, yeah
The second chorus introduces new memories, continuing to interject playful moments that humanized their relationship in between the moments that left her questioning who she was and what they were.
“And there we are again when nobody had to know you kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath,” is brand new to us, and in my humble opinion, the most gut-wrenching descriptor I’ve ever heard; while she treated him like something to be treasured forever, he treated her like a skeleton in the closet.
Well, maybe we got lost in translation, maybe I asked for too much But maybe this thing was a masterpiece 'til you tore it all up Running scared, I was there I remember it all too well And you call me up again just to break me like a promise So casually cruel in the name of being honest I'm a crumpled-up piece of paper lying here 'Cause I remember it all, all, all
The bridge remains the same as the original. Taylor questions her role in their demise alongside an accusation against him for being careless with something she saw as so special. She then recalls the phone calls that ensued for seemingly no other purpose than to hurt her further.
The similies? The poeticism? The metaphors? *chef’s kiss*
Oh, and that repetition throughout the song of being there and remembering every aspect? It used to drive in the idea that Taylor valued the relationship much more than her ex ever did, and that while he was seemingly able to leave and live without impact, it continued to haunt her.
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've been fine And that made me want to die The idea you had of me, who was she? A never-needy, ever-lovely jewel whose shine reflects on you Not weeping in a party bathroom Some actress asking me what happened, you That's what happened, you You who charmed my dad with self-effacing jokes Sipping coffee like you're on a late-night show But then he watched me watch the front door all night, willing you to come And he said, "It's supposed to be fun turning twenty-one"
Now, in conjunction with additional lyrics and scenes in the “All Too Well” short film, I firmly believe the continued insertion of “…I was there, I remember it all too well” is representative of Taylor grounding herself in her memories. It seems that her boyfriend gaslighted her into believing that her experiences in the relationship weren’t true to history.
He hid his true personality through overly modest jokes when meeting the people who loved her, effectively covering his tracks. He’d go on to blame the failure of their relationship on their age gap (Taylor was 20 when dating 29-year-old Gyllenhaal), which killed Taylor; their ages were probably the only thing entirely out of her control. But she goes on to imply that her ex had created a picture-perfect version of her in his head, and the fact that she had emotions that she didn’t keep boxed up in a dark corner was unacceptable to him. She certainly could’ve become an emotionless robot, but why should she have to?
After everything started to break down, he failed to show up to her 21st birthday party, as depicted in both the lyrics and the short film. Directly connecting to the plot of “The Moment I Knew,” in which Taylor sings about waiting on edge for her boyfriend to show up to her birthday party, his no-show signals to her the definitive end of their relationship.
Time won't fly, it's like I'm paralyzed by it I'd like to be my old self again, but I'm still trying to find it After plaid shirt days and nights when you made me your own Now you mail back my things and I walk home alone But you keep my old scarf from that very first week 'Cause it reminds you of innocence and it smells like me You can't get rid of it 'Cause you remember it all too well, yeah 'Cause there we are again when I loved you so Back before you lost the one real thing you've ever known It was rare, I was there I remember it all too well Wind in my hair, you were there You remember it all Down the stairs, you were there You remember it all It was rare, I was there I remember it all too well
These lyrics aren’t new either, but they strike a wildly different chord once you have the complete picture. Operating under the gaslighting theory, Taylor apparently feels trapped in this new version of herself that someone else painted for her, struggling to find a way to right her self-image and be the person she knows she is.
At the same time, she hopes that he’s left the relationship with some war wounds, too, hoping that the scarf she left behind (which may or may not also be a metaphor) reminds him of what he’s done and what he ruined.
And I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes "I'll get older, but your lovers stay my age" From when your Brooklyn broke my skin and bones I'm a soldier who's returning half her weight And did the twin flame bruise paint you blue? Just between us, did the love affair maim you too? 'Cause in this city's barren cold I still remember the first fall of snow And how it glistened as it fell I remember it all too well
The final verse digs into the idea that their age gap was their downfall – and offers more fuel for the gaslighting fire – calling out her ex for continuing to date women far younger than him after their breakup. While Taylor has said that this new release was recorded exactly as the original was ad-libbed, I wouldn’t be surprised if this final verse was edited slightly before recording. After all, Gyllenhaal, now 40, is dating a 25-year-old.
Taylor cracks open her vulnerability more than ever here, chronicling the devastation caused by the relationship and wondering if it had any effect on him at all.
Just between us, did the love affair maim you all too well? Just between us, do you remember it all too well? Just between us, I remember it (Just between us) all too well Wind in my hair, I was there, I was there (I was there) Down the stairs, I was there, I was there Sacred prayer, I was there, I was there It was rare, you remember it all too well Wind in my hair, I was there, I was there (Oh) Down the stairs, I was there, I was there (I was there) Sacred prayer, I was there, I was there It was rare, you remember it (All too well) Wind in my hair, I was there, I was there Down the stairs, I was there, I was there Sacred prayer, I was there, I was there It was rare, you remember it Wind in my hair, I was there, I was there Down the stairs, I was there, I was there Sacred prayer, I was there, I was there It was rare, you remember it...
The outro once again drives home what I believe to be a desperation to affirm that her memories happened as she remembers them, with a final assumption that they happened the same way for him as well, loathe as he may be to admit to them. He may act like nothing ever happened, but he was there, too.