With all of us still reeling over the release of Red (Taylor’s Version), it’s easy to become enveloped in everything that was going on at the time of the original release, including Swift’s personal life. Every time she’s dropped a song, the media has been quick to piece together a story to accompany it — drawing lines between her lyrics and those involved with her romantically (or just speculated to have been). While this speculation is very entertaining and practically unavoidable, it takes away from the actual reasoning behind Swift rerecording all of her work.
She was in a nearly impossible situation by losing the rights to her music, and rerecording her entire discography is an ambitious feat. It takes an incredible artist to take on such a task and requires faith in their talent and fanbase to believe in a project’s success. Not only has she done so thus far with enormous success, but she’s done so with grace, making the process look seamless to those on the outside. Yet, so much of the conversation surrounding her music lands on the men she’s written about.
We’ve all seen the seemingly harmless jokes about Jake Gyllenhaal, the scarf, and the many other symbols that represented their relationship. They’re funny and, for the most part, harmless. Swift herself would even smirk at some of them. Yet, these small jokes tend to make way for larger narratives about Swift herself holding onto their relationship all these years later. Although she would have every right to do so personally, it’s created a story that she’s intentionally rehashing their relationship problems a decade later publicly, and that’s the reason she’s covering her steps musically a second time around.
Jokes have already begun around Harry Styles and John Mayer being “next” on the list to be called out by Taylor Swift. However, that’s not her actual intention at all. Pushing that line of thought makes those who aren’t as knowledgeable on the reasoning behind her actions believe she’s doing her rerecordings with ill intent, rather than out of sheer necessity to protect herself and her body of work from men who put profit above loyalty. Swift has faced critics throughout her career who attempt to undermine her talent with headlines about her relationships. In reality, she’s just an incredibly talented artist who has a way of writing words that make millions feel understood. So, although it’s difficult to avoid because we all want to know Taylor’s experiences and thoughts, let’s try to refocus on the triumph of Taylor’s rerecordings and exclude the men from this narrative, one that Taylor never asked for them to be a part of.