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My Thoughts Before and After Listening to “Red (Taylor’s Version)”

November 11, 2021 

Can y’all believe we’ve gotten THREE Taylor Swift albums in one year? It really is her world, and we are all just living in it. On November 12, 2021, Swift will release the re-recording of her fourth studio album, Red. For more information on why Swift is re-recording her past albums, check out my article on Fearless (Taylor’s Version). 

This is an album about heartbreak, new experiences, and stepping into a more mature understanding of life and love. It’s well known in the fanbase as having an unhinged tracklist, from the soft acoustic of “Treacherous” to the scathing dialogue of “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” It’s well loved for being kind of a beautiful mess, and is full of hidden gems like “The Last Time” and “Holy Ground.” And, of course, this album brought to life “All Too Well,” a universally adored track five that boasts one of the best loved bridges in all of Swiftdom. 

For me, this album comes with a lot of nostalgia. This was the second Taylor Swift album I ever owned, and my favorite songs back in the day were “Red,” “22,” and “I Knew You  Were Trouble.” This was the last album I really paid attention to before I fell out of my childhood Taylor Swift phase, and returning to it was literally like “knowing all the words to [my] old favorite song.” Since revisiting it as an adult, I’ve found some new favorites. By the way, I’ve been a “Stay, Stay, Stay,” fan since 2012, and I will hear no slander against her. I am so excited for this album, and I cannot wait to make this Fall my own personal Red (Taylor’s Version) era. 

Fearless (Taylor’s Version), which came out back in April, set the bar really high for the rest of the re-recordings. It was nostalgic, yet fresh. It totally exceeded even my most extravagant of expectations, from the opening track to the final (from the vault) number. It also set a precedent for hype. Ahead of Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Swift released two (from the vault) tracks and “Love Story” as lead singles. The day of release, there were snippets of songs found all over social media. The marketing for Red (Taylor’s Version) has been far more subdued. There was a snippet of “Babe (Taylor’s Version) (from the Vault)” on Tumblr today and a sneak peak of the title track, “Red (Taylor’s Version),” has made occasional appearances on Swift’s instagram story, but other than that, there has been very little released ahead of time. Is this to build suspense? To keep the major hits locked up until the day of? I’m thinking this “wait and see” strategy will definitely pay off for Swift in the long run, and I am looking forward to hearing all of my old favorites at once on release day. 

The major headliner for this album is the elusive “All Too Well (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (from the Vault).” According to Bustle, fans became aware of the existence of this song back in 2012 and have been begging for it ever since. In a twist of fate that left us all shocked that our behavior would be rewarded, Taylor revealed earlier this year that the ten minute version of fan darling “All Too Well” would be making an appearance on the Red re-recording. The song isn’t just getting a music video, it’s getting a whole short film, which is set to be released on Youtube at 7 pm, Friday, November 12. This alone has spurred a ton of hype for the album as fans guess at possible lyrics and make memes about how much they’re going to cry the first time they listen to this highly anticipated track.

Besides “All Too Well (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” I am most looking forward to “22,”  “The Last Time (Feat. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol),” “Stay, Stay, Stay,” and “Come Back, Be Here.” I am not familiar with any of the (From the Vault) songs from this album, which means that those are going to be totally new to me. I’m so ready to get my heart absolutely shattered by these songs, old and new. I won’t get to listen right at midnight, so I’m going to try to avoid it until I can listen to the whole album in one sitting. This means it’ll probably be Saturday until I can really let the album sink in, so I’ve got a little more waiting to do. In the meantime, I’ve got the original Red to keep me company. See y’all on the other side! 

November 14, 2021

Alright, a full 48 hours later. Let’s talk about it. I was completely blown away by this album. For some reason, I had never before considered how narrative Red was. The average Red lyric could easily hold its own against some of the best from folklore and evermore. Maybe it was the maturity of her vocal range, or the reflective emotionality with which she performed the songs, but I have a new appreciation for the place this album holds in the TS canon. Of course, the production on this record was also incredible, showcasing both Swift’s gorgeous vocals and the beautiful accompaniment. 

I won’t be able to review every single track because there are thirty songs on this album, but I will say a little about my favorites.

 I listened to this album out of order, starting with “All Too Well (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault).” That song is going to get its own article, and that’s all I’ll say on the matter now. Overall, I found the (From the Vault) songs on this album to be stronger than the ones on Fearless (Taylor’s Version). Like, sure, “Mr. Perfectly Fine” was fun, and I’ll listen to “That’s When” whenever I’m in the mood for a little bit of country, but for the most part I have not revisited the (From the Vault) tracks since the week of the album’s release. I think the bonus tracks on Red (Taylor’s Version) expand the story of the album and fill in some of the gaps. My favorite non-ATW FTV track is probably “Nothing New (Ft. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault).” I loved hearing a duet between Taylor and another woman artist, especially since in the past featured women have only ever done back-up vocals on Taylor’s songs. The emotional core of this song is so beautifully articulated. I also love the mix on this and the gentle acoustic guitar. 

I’ve always been a sucker for the slow jams on Red, and those are the ones that blew me away the most on the re-recording. “State of Grace (Acoustic Version) (Taylor’s Version)” has become a new favorite of mine, mostly owing to Taylor’s vocals. On “Come Back…Be HEre (Taylor’s Version)” Taylor is just belting for the stars and I am living for it. “The Last Time (Feat. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol) (Taylor’s Version)” brought new life to one of my old favorites, and Swift and Lightbody’s harmonies are as beautiful as they have ever been.

On the faster side of things, “22 (Taylor’s Version)” felt like this album’s “You belong with me (Taylor’s Version)”–fast, proud, and excited. She sounds like she’s having so much fun singing it that you can’t help but feel the same way. “WANEGBT (Taylor’s Version)” is so biting and sarcastic, but it’s a total bop and is definitely still one of my favorites. I think the new mix on “Girl at Home (Taylor’s Version)” is a huge improvement from the original and it no longer sticks out as a weak point in the album. I love the dance vibes it has and, dare I say it, it might be a favorite of mine from the re-recording. 


Overall, I feel like all of the changes, the new mixes, the new songs, and every single new word and note in “All Too Well (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” (bit of a mouthful, that) took this album to a whole new level. Red is a force to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see what Swift has in store for us next. I am still not ready for Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), in case anyone was wondering, but at least I have two awesome albums owned by Taylor Swift to keep me company in the meantime. Alright, it’s time for an “ATWTMVTVFTV” lockdown, see y’all at the next re-release.

Savannah Tew

C of C '23

Savannah Tew is an Art History and Arts Management major at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. She hopes to pursue a graduate degree in art history and a career in museum administration. In her free time she enjoys creative writing, drawing, and playing the guitar.
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