It’s a big weekend for Taylor Swift fans.
Not only has the singer finally released Red (Taylor’s Version) on Friday, as part of her ongoing effort to regain control over her work, she also launched a 14-minute short film – written and directed by her – to accompany one of her songs.
The release of Red (Taylor’s Version) is a big deal in itself. While the original album featured 16 tracks when it was released in 2012, the latest has been hailed as a masterpiece by critics and fans, and features new musical collaborations with bigwigs including Ed Sheeran, Phoebe Bridgers and Chris Stapleton.
It also features nine songs she wrote back in 2012 but didn’t make the cut… until now. So suffice it to say that the internet was delighted by the release.
Why are Taylor Swift fans now reacting to All Too Well?
However, few songs from this album have caught Swifties’ attention quite like All Too Well.
When the song was first released with the rest of the album Red in 2012, it wasn’t meant to be the highlight, and yet somehow that's what it became. While the album received three Grammy nominations that year, All Too Well attained a sort of cult status, with many claiming it to be the best song of her career. It even holds the top spot among Rolling Stone's ranking of Swift’s best work, with the magazine saying "This towering ballad is Swift’s zenith, building to peak after peak.”
These, and rumours of the existence of a 10-minute uncut version of the song, turned All Too Well into something of a folklore.
Friday's reveal of that rumoured version did not disappoint fans:
What’s been uncovered within the song?
It’s long been rumoured that the song was about Jake Gyllenhaal and Swift’s three-month relationship and the new version – which clocks in at 10 minutes and nine seconds – features new lyrics that have left no doubt in the minds of fans.
For starters, the duo dated right before Swift’s 21st birthday, something that is reflected in the extended lyrics: "But then he watched me watch the front door all night, willing you to come/ And he said, 'It’s supposed to be fun…turning 21'".
It also alludes to the reason the two broke up, which happens to be the difference in age: “You said if we had been closer in age/ Maybe it would have been fine”. At the time they were together, she was aged 20 while he was 29.
Finally – and possibly the part fans are raving about most – are the lyrics that point out the hypocrisy of age being a factor in the break-up.
“And I was never good at telling jokes/ But the punchline goes/ 'I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age',” Swift sings in the extended version.
At the moment, Gyllenhaal, 40, is dating model Jeanne Cadieu, 25.
To go with the song, Swift also released a short film written and directed by her, starring Sadie Sink (Stranger Things) and Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner). The video clocked more than three million views less than three hours after its premiere.
Why is Taylor Swift remaking her albums?
Taylor Swift has been on a mission to re-record her first six albums, all released under Big Machine Label Group, with the aim of owning the new set of masters – the official sound recording which future editions stem from.
Swift signed the deal with BMLG when she was 15, in return for an advance and a chunk of revenue. However, it is the owner of the masters who finally owns and profits from all copies: including CDs, records and versions streamed on Spotify and Apple Music.
The masters were later acquired by Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings and sold again in November 2020 to private equity firm Shamrock Holdings, which currently owns her first six albums, released between 2006 and 2017. It led Swift to speak out, saying it was “the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge.”
The new release is part of her ongoing feud for ownership of her music.