Ever since Taylor Swift dropped Red (Taylors Version), the ten-minute version of “All Too Well,” and the short film for the song, fans and music lovers alike have been dissecting the newly minted lyrics. One of the cult classic items featured in the song and film is Taylor’s beloved red scarf. The scarf that she leaves behind to the man she’s in love with, the one that keeps bringing her mind back to him in the song. Taylor recently addressed the scarf’s importance in the song while promoting her short film at the Toronto International Film festival. While discussing the casting of Dylan O’Brien as the male lead in the film, Swift mentioned that the scarf in the song has always been a metaphor. Swifties worldwide were aghast, because for years wearing the red scarf has been a common occurrence at concerts and album parties. However, this opens the floor for even more inquiry about the story behind All Too Well; the scarf is a metaphor for what, exactly?
The song depicts the story of a young couple falling in love, with trips to upstate New York and dancing in the refrigerator light. But the love story comes crashing down, resulting in a traumatic break up for our female protagonist. The scarf is mentioned in the beginning of the song with the lyric, “And I left my scarf there at your sister’s house. And you’ve still got it in your drawer even now” (Swift). The scarf is then mentioned again at the end of the song, “But you keep my old scarf from that very first week. ‘Cause it reminds you of innocence. And it smells like me” (Swift). In the second lyric Swift offers a clue as to what the scarf represents, innocence. From the beginning of the relationship, when everything is seen through rose-colored glasses, and the hazy glow of first true love. Swift uses the scarf as a recurring message, that no matter what happened between these two people, good or bad, there are the ever-present memories of autumn days when they only belonged to each other.
That’s why the song has stayed ever popular, it represents that longing for the “ifs” of first love, what if it had lasted, what if things had gone another way? Swift has created a genre of love songs that’s utterly her own, with deeply personal, heart shattering lyrics, and “All Too Well” just might be the greatest of them all.