Opinion

Taylor Swift’s Rerecording of “All Too Well” Shows Her Creative Liberty

By Rachel Giaquinto

rachel.giaquinto@spartans.ut.edu

The familiarity of a red scarf, an older guy wearing beanies and flannels, and feeling like a crumpled-up piece of paper lying there. These are some things that Taylor Swift fans remember all too well. 

Since 2012 when the original Red album was released, fans could only imagine the pain Swift endured during her three-month relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal when listening to the song “All Too Well.” However, with the re-release of Red (Taylor’s Version), Swift didn’t hold back when it came to expanding on the storyline. 

The story of “All Too Well” starts in 2010 when Swift and Gyllenhaal were rumored to be dating. While the pair only lasted for about three months, the relationship helped create arguably one of the most vulnerable and heartbreaking ballads Swift has ever written. “All Too Well” was the first song written for the Red album and encompassed the entire relationship she and Gyllenhaal shared in just 5 minutes and 29 seconds. 

While the song quickly grew to be a fan favorite, it garnered even more attention when Swift revealed that the original version was actually ten minutes long. At the time, Swift’s music manager, Scooter Braun, recommended the song be cut down as he believed no one would listen to a ten-minute song. Listening to the advice of her manager, Swift and fellow songwriter Liz Rose cut the song down. 

For years, fans longed to hear the original version of the song but accepted that the track is one that would stay in what Swift refers to as “the vault.” That was until she announced the rerecording of Red.

Swift including the ten-minute version of “All Too Well” on her version of the album meant more to many fans than just finally getting to listen to it. It showed that Swift now truly does have full creative liberty and control over the music she produces. 

After her feud with Braun, who sold her masters without her permission, Swift can now officially own her music and do exactly what she wants to do with it. Releasing her version of the track is another monumental step in Swift reclaiming what is rightfully hers.

While releasing the original version would have satisfied fans, Swift went one step further. On November 5, Swift announced that she’d made a short film inspired by the song. When the film was released on YouTube on November 12, it received over 18 million views in just 24 hours. 

The film featured stars Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien alongside Swift. The 15-minute film is full of easter eggs from Swift’s career and relationship with Gyllenhaal, further confirming fan theories that the song was written about him.

With the infamous red scarf opening up the film, viewers can’t help but feel as if they have been transported directly into the world that Swift created when writing the song. The lyrics were brought to life on screen and Sink and O’Brien’s chemistry on screen is undeniable. The two were able to express the highs and lows of a relationship in such a raw and vulnerable way that many fans noted that the film felt as if they were intruding on a real relationship. 

Swift’s appearance at the end of the film as a successful book author is symbolic of the journey she has taken with the song in real life. When she was young and in the relationship, as portrayed by Sink, she felt heartbroken and completely used. However, she was able to turn that pain into art when writing the song, creating something that fans all over the world could relate to.

The success of the novelist in the film also represents Swift’s success in real life as she rerecords her music. Red, a nine-year-old album, broke the Spotify record for most streamed album in a day by a female. The irony is, Swift broke the record that she previously set herself, her album Folklore holding the title before the release of Red

With one album at a time, Swift is taking back what rightfully belongs to her. Her songs are full of the pain and suffering she has endured throughout her life, and it is only right that she owns the songs that she wrote. “All Too Well” acts as a signifier of the success and power Swift holds, as a nine-year-old song has become even more successful today than when it was originally released. Fans and people everywhere will remember the story of Swift all too well. 

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