All Too Well (Taylor’s Version): Reclaiming Her Music

Taylor Swift’s re-recording adds depth and personality to an already well-known heartbreak song.


Art done by Audrey Marx

Lina McDonald, Staff Writer

Nine years after the release of Taylor Swift’s critically acclaimed album “Red”—which wove a tale of desperation and heartbreak paired with guitar pop— comes its long-anticipated re-recording, “Red (Taylor’s Version)”. The release comes as a part of Swift’s journey to claim ownership of her album masters from her former label. 

One of the nine new tracks on the album is the uncut version of what could perhaps be considered Swift’s most ubiquitously-known masterpiece: “All Too Well”, which features the ups and downs of a bitter-ending relationship. Swift originally wrote the song in one big gush of words during a recording session. But the song had to be cut from 10 minutes down to five when “Red” was first released. Unfortunately, cutting left out parts of the original essence of Swift’s heartfelt lyrics. Nevertheless, “All Too Well” still managed to become a massive fan favorite.

The 10-minute version begins with the same story as the one told in the originally released album, an epic tale of autumn romance. In “All Too Well”, Swift reminisces about “Singing in the car, getting lost upstate/Autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place”, which describes her falling in love during the fall months with a mystery man, long-rumored to be Swift’s ex, Jake Gyllenhaal. 

Even though they might not be a perfect match, Swift clings onto the hopeful possibility of a love that lasts. But, contradictory to the upbeat drums and mellow guitar chords, the next verse seems to suggest that all is not well in their relationship, with Swift singing “He’s gonna say it’s love, you never called it what it was” and mourning their relationship as if it’s buried in a grave. This reflection, along with lyrics describing their love as a “sacred prayer”, is an addition to the shorter version, which gives insight into the deep bond Swift experienced towards her lover. 

Calling the tumultuous relationship “a masterpiece”, Swift sings despondently about remembering it all, from dancing together around the kitchen and desperate calls in the middle of the night. With the previously-unreleased lyrics, “They say all’s well that ends well, but I’m in a new Hell/Every time you double-cross my mind” comes a crescendo of piano and drums, symbolizing the end of the bipolar relationship, one which caused Swift so much pain. Deep bass beats shift into a calm guitar melody as Swift looks back on having to walk home alone and feeling the effects of their love for long after, singing “Time won’t fly, it’s like I’m paralyzed by it”. Swift ends the song on a wounded note, asking her lover “Just between us, did the love affair maim you all too well?