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The Ultimate Guide to the “All Too Well” Universe

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably heard of Taylor Swift’s song “All Too Well” and its several versions. In an interview with Seth Myers, Swift said, “This time around, I get to do things that I know they [the fans] wish I would have done the first time… and I’m listening and I’m making the videos and doing the things.”  

Sitting at #1 on the Billboard’s Hot 100, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)” has become a pop culture sensation. However, this isn’t the only version of “All Too Well.”  

There are currently four different versions of this song as well as a short film and an SNL performance. Why are there so many versions of a song that was originally released almost ten years ago? What are the differences, and which one should be considered the true version? 

“All Too Well” 

Originally released on Taylor’s 2012 album Red, “All Too Well” is the quintessential Taylor Swift heartbreak song. It’s chock full of the storytelling and lyricism that has defined her style.  

Like much of Red, “All Too Well” was during this transitional time for Taylor’s music. No longer was she singing about boys in Chevy trucks, but she wasn’t quite yet at singing that “boys only want love if it’s torture.”  

At over five minutes long, “All Too Well” was the first song written for Red. Though never released as a single, “All Too Well” has become a fan favorite and earned critical acclaim.  

“All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” 

At first glance, “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” may seem like a carbon copy of “All Too Well”. While, originally released version sounds shaky as if Taylor is trying to keep from crying in between verses “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” features a more mature vocal performance. “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” has a mellow but more powerful tone as well. 

Aside from the song itself, the label “(Taylor’s Version)” may be the most significant marker between this and the original version. Any song released with “(Taylor’s Version)” means that Taylor Swift owns the copyright for it, whereas “All Too Well” is still owned by Taylor’s former record label, Big Machine Records. Artists having ownership over their work is important because it gives artistic and financial autonomy back to the artists.  

“All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” 

Here’s where it gets interesting. When Taylor originally wrote “All Too Well,” this was what it looked like—a ten-minute heart-wrenching song that’s double the length of the original.  

“I think the version we’re putting out tonight is gonna be, for [the fans], the new standard version of what this song is because it is the original form. I’m just that proud of it” said Swift. 

During the revision process, the majority of the song got cut to make it more palatable for audiences. Considering that “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” just broke the record for the longest song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, this assumption was proven wrong.  

Other than the length, what else makes “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” different? Musically, it’s very similar to the other versions. “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” shines with its storytelling. This version paints a vivid picture of Taylor’s heartbreak that the other two leave in abstractions. While the shorter versions tell the audience what heartbreak feels like, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” shows the audience what that heartbreak looks like. 

“All Too Well (Sad Girl Autumn Version) – Recorded at Long Pond Studios” 

In a tweet announcing “All Too Well (Sad Girl Autumn Version)”, Taylor said, “One of the saddest songs I’ve ever written just got sadder.” 

“All Too Well (Sad Girl Autumn Version)” is a remix of the ten-minute version. A collaboration with Aaron Dessner and Jonathan Low, who helped produce Folklore and Evermore, “All Too Well (Sad Girl Autumn Version)” features new stripped-down instrumentation. Unlike other versions that heavily use guitar and drums, this one features a piano as the leading instrument. The simplicity of “All Too Well (Sad Girl Autumn Version)” works to further the story of the song. The lyrics stand alone and yet still supply the raw emotions of the other versions.  

Even in a catalog as diverse as Taylor’s, “All Too Well” stands out among the crowd. Each version offers something unique. No matter which version you chose to listen to, you’re going to get a beautifully crafted piece of music that will probably break your heart and have you wondering about the whereabouts of a certain scarf.  

Morgan Holder

Alabama '24

Morgan Holder is a sophomore at the University of Alabama. She is a Dance/English major and has minors in news media and the Blount Scholars Program. When she's not dancing or catching up on her assigned reading, she can be found trying to learn Beatles songs on the guitar or watching The Great British Bake Off.
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