Red (Taylor’s Version) is a Musical Masterpiece


Frazer Harrison/Getty Images from Tribune News Service

Taylor Swift in January 2020 at the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California. Swift and her fans are celebrating the arrival of “Red: Taylor’s Version,” the second album in her effort to take back ownership of her Big Machine catalog.

Celia Bickel, Reporter

 Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) is the 2nd installment of the re-recorded albums that she has released. The 2021 version is an entirely different experience than the original Red album. 

After the release of Reputation in 2019, Taylor Swift left Big Machine Records, whom she’d recorded with since her debut in 2006, due to creative differences. Unfortunately, Scooter Braun, Big Machine’s executive producer, refused to sell Swift her music when she left. This meant that Braun owned all 6 of Swift’s albums, and that she could no longer legally perform the music in those albums. In order to regain ownership of her songs, Swift is re-recording all the albums that she has lost, first with Fearless, and now with Red. However, in order to legally do so, she must slightly change something in every song so that it can be hers, whether it’s a key change or a wording change. For fans, this has become a challenge to find whatever details Swift changes in the songs. 

But the bigger incentive for fans to listen to this album is that Swift added 8 new songs. These songs are referred to as “from the vault”, because they’re songs that Swift wrote at the time the original Red album was released, but never quite made it onto the album. Additionally, Taylor Swift recorded these “vault” songs as duets with popular artists of today, including Phoebe Bridgers, Ed Sheeran and Chris Stapleton. 

One of the 8 new songs Taylor added is a 10 minute extended version of what is known as her best song lyrically, “All Too Well”. “All Too Well”, a ballad, is the story of the loss of innocence that comes with young love and toxicity, and the song very successfully uses a red scarf as a metaphor for that innocence. The 10 minute version has since become the longest song to ever hit number one on the billboard charts. Swift’s lyrics in this song completely capture the emotions of losing a relationship and feeling as though you lost a part of yourself. 

One of the best lines from the song is as follows,“There we are again when nobody had to know | You kept me like a secret but I kept you like an oath”. I think this is a beautifully written line because while he was embarrassed of her and did not want to be seen with her, she remained loyal and stayed true to him. 

The entire album itself follows the story of a young couple, starting off strong  with “State of Grace”, a stadium rock anthem about the prime time in a relationship when you feel that you’ve settled in your relationship, but still aren’t bored. The re-release also featured an acoustic version of this song, which is equally as beautiful. One of the best lines from the song was “You were never a saint and I’ve loved in shades of wrong | We learned to love through the pain, mosaic broken hearts”. I think this line is very lyrically complex, and I love that the “shades of wrong” pays tribute to the album’s color theme. 

 The final song on the album, “Begin Again”, is an acoustic country song about finally getting over a painful breakup, and deciding to start over. It tells the story of a first date, and being surprised by how easy it is. The song feels bittersweet and hopeful, and is a perfect ending to the album. 

I would rate this album a 5 out of 5 stars because I think it is lyrically complex and yet so relatable at the same time for anyone who has ever been through a relationship. I think there is a perfect balance of maturity and that it is enjoyable for all ages. I think that the range of genres on this album is amazing, and that there are songs for a mellow afternoon or a party at night.