RED by Taylor Swift was a groundbreaking album seeing Swift fully transition from young country star to an absolute phenomenon. During this album cycle she began to experiment with more pop and rock influences in her music while still maintaining that country sound she cultivated on her first three albums. Taylor’s Version of Red has a huge number of tracks, 30 in total, along with two extra that was included in an EP around the same time. 20 of these songs appeared on the deluxe edition of the original recording with an additional 10 tracks from ‘The Vault’. I really hope one day she releases a full multi disc version of all her vault tracks, on coloured vinyl.
Musically and lyrically, Red resembled a heartbroken person. It was all over the place, a fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end. Happy, free, confused, lonely, devastated, euphoric, wild, and tortured by memories past. Like trying on pieces of a new life, I went into the studio and experimented with different sounds and collaborators. And I’m not sure if it was pouring my thoughts into this album, hearing thousands of your voices sing the lyrics back to me in passionate solidarity, or if it was simply time, but something was healed along the way.Taylor Swift reflecting on RED 
RED [Taylor’s Version]
State of Grace is the opening track of RED and opens the album perfectly, here Swift talks about the first signs of love and how it makes you feel. This record is ultimately a snapshot into a terbulant relationship but she starts off with hope, that many of us feel in those opening moments of falling for someone.
This flows effortlessly into the country rock anthem Red, which is another love song, were Swift begins to experiment with using color to represent feelings in her work. It is more mellow in tone than the original recording but it still packs a punch. Blue and grey are common motephes but Red is the most used and this will continue in her later work.
“Loving him was Red”
but red invokes so many emotion within that colour. Swift delves into this during the whole album, referring to red as passionate, anger, lust, pain. Everything in this relationship is red.
Treacherous is up next slowing things down into a ballad that details trying to protect a relationship. the relationship in question is toxic, fragile and dangerous. You feel the love here but also the trepidation she must have felt during this time. This leads into the next track I Knew You Were Trouble perfectly, while before she wants to protect what they have in this one she blames herself for the breakdown of the relationship. A relationship she knows she should have never entered into, sometimes we don’t see the red flags or ignore them. Taylor, we have all been there.
I tend to feel like when you’re looking back on the things that have hurt you in life, I look back on them and think if it made you feel something, it was worth it.
All To Well was the first song written for the album, being conceived two years before its release during the rehearsals of her Speak Now tour. This is the original, cut down version form her original release, obviously it’s re-recorded, we are talking lyrically here. It is as stunning as the first time I heard it and is a huge fan favorite. We will delve more into this one when we get to the ten minute version.
It’s weird because I feel like this song has two lives to it in my brain. In my brain, there’s the life of this song, where this song was born out of catharsis and venting and trying to get over something and trying to understand it and process it. And then there’s the life where it went out into the world and you turned this song into something completely different for me. You turned this song into a collage of memories of watching you scream the words to this song, or seeing pictures that you post to me of you having written words to this song in your diary, or you showing me your wrist, and you have a tattoo of the lyrics to this song underneath your skin. And that is how you have changed the song “All Too Well” for me.Taylor Swift: Reputation Stadium Tour on Netflix
22 is just a fun pop hit that will make you want to get up and dance. At 22 you definitely feel invincible and epically just after a breakup you want to be around your friends, having fun and just living your best life. This song encapsulates this with it’s high energy beat and pop sensibilities. I Almost Do on the other hand feels like the hangover, those moments you get in from having a good time, your alone, lonely, the breakup is real and hard. The song feels like above letter to this man she loved and an ode to all those nights that are spent staying up, sad and waiting to just make that call.
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together comes next and honestly it is a fantastic girl power anthem. An ode to all those boys who have ever messed you around, want you to be on their time but also being emotionally manipulative and and unavailable. She talks about how he mocks her music taste, the things she likes and how she isnt cool. yet he still wants her around. Red Flag, stay away from those men, I’m telling you and so is Taylor Swift.
“It was a relationship where I felt very critiqued and subpar. He’d listen to this music that nobody had heard of … but as soon as anyone else liked this band, he’d drop them.”
Stay Stay Stay is a cute little song that is very simple. sometimes you need a simple melody and lyrics just as a refresher. I really like this song, it feels like the start of a relationship, a new one, were you are just having the best time. She does talk about how her relationships before have really hurt her but she is still open to whatever this is with this new person that makes her smile.
The Last Time is a story told from two different perspectives, of a man who keeps coming back to a women. he always seems to break her heart but she forgives him every time. It’s a beautifully crafter power ballad with hints of ELO and Snow Patrol mixed with that distinctive Taylor Swift writing style. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol takes on the role of Swift’s lover here while Swift spends the song torn between letting him back in to her life or letting him go. Whatever relationship this song is inspired by must have been something. They always are when they produce art like this.
Holy Ground is an upbeat heartland country song about reminiscing about a past relationship. She looks back on it fondly within the lyrics, how much it meant to her and how it wasn’t that bad. She was inspired to write this after bumping into an ex lover, this song lyrically is very mature while exploring the complexity of relationships. She is still so young here and trying to navigate a world of relationships were your expected to be mature at 22 is insane. But she does it, beautifully showing off her vulnerable side and remembering the good times her and this person had.
Sad Beautiful Tragic is a very melencholey song musically as are the lyrics, but this is another song were you can here her maturaty as a song writer. She lements the end of this relationship, many moons later it feels here. It was Sad, Beutiful and Tragic in every sense of the word swift discribes all the ways iot went wrong but also all the things that were right. sometimes it’s better to have tried than not at all.
The Lucky One is another masterful use of storytelling from Swift, who here tells the tale of a person going to Hollywood, with a fake name while being used up. She compares herself to this person and how hard this life can be. saying ‘The Lucky One’ feels very tongue and cheek in the sense of she knows she is lucky to be living her dream but that does come with a price. A fantastically simple song about the pitfalls of making it.
Everything Has Changed is the second collaboration on this record. She alternates verses with Ed Shereen who she wrote the song with on her trampoline one night. Their song writing partnerships is beautiful while their voices meld together perfectly in this pop-folk record. Starlight is more upbeat and very sweet. Swift talks about a relationship being young and just having a good time. There is nothing sad here, other than that it ended. It reminds me a little of Gilmore Girls, Rory and Logan, which I think is pretty cool.
Begin Again is a beautifully paired back song which includes that country style we all have come to know Swift for, but there is also a hint of folk there. It’s been eight months of trouble and heartach but finally after all this tiume, she finds someone who gets her, who thinks shes funny and doesnt treat her like an object. She is ok to move on and try again, to be vunrible, be herself and utimitley to begin again as she says.
It’s about when you’ve gotten through a really bad relationship and you finally dust yourself off and go on that first date after a horrible breakup, and the vulnerability that goes along with all that
The Moment I Knew on the other hand is heart breaking. What kind of man stands her up on her birthday. Yes that’s what this song is about, taking place in the space of one evening and this is the moment she knows its over, for her at least. It is also the night referenced in the ten minute version of All Too Well. When you’ve been through this there is nothing as devastating.
Come Back….Be Here is an ode to all those who have been in a long distance relationship. She talks about how missing that person cause they aren’t around is worse than missing them when they are. She describes how they are worlds away and she just wants them back. LDR can very much be like that, you don’t want to get attached cause things can easily go wrong but falling for them is so magical.
Girl at Home, which talks about a serial cheater, we all know one of those. It’s very different to the originally recording and even almost two years later I’m unsure if I like this version. The original 20 songs are finished off with an acoustic version of State of Grace.
From The Vault
Ronan is a incredibly sad song about a little boy called Ronan who passed away after a battle with cancer. The original song was released as a charity single with all proceeds being donated to help raise awareness and fight childhood cancer. Ronan’s mother, Maya Thompson is credited as a co-writer of the song due to Swift using parts of her blog post to craft the lyrics. It makes me cry every time I hear it. So incredibly sad that it will tug on your heart strings like nothing else on the album.
Better Man was written by Taylor Swift for her 2012 album RED but recorded and released by Little Big Town in 2016. It didn’t make the original track listing but I’m so glad it did this time. Its a beautiful country tune about a women who has been to hell and back with her ex. She gets out and learns her worth while growing as a person. You can see that Swift’s relationships with older men have really affected her and her confidence. .
Nothing New is a folk alternative rock ballad from Taylor Swift and features the very talented Phoebe Bridgers. This is one of my all time favorite vault tracks. Us weird girls’ do feel this way about ourselves, be that with out friends or in relationships. Cause everyone likes us till we are ‘Nothing New’, making us feel disposable and often very lonely.
I’ve been thinking a lot about getting older and relevancy and how all my heroes have ended up alone.
Babe was originally recorded by Sugarland and written by Taylor Swift and Patrick Monahan of Train. Here we finally get to hear her version. This along with Message in a Bottle are possibly two of her weakest song from the vault both lyrically and musically. while the former seems to just plod along the latter is electro pop and doesn’t quite fit in with RED. It also isnt done as well as other more pop and electro centered tracks off the album.
I Bet You Think About Me is a huge country rock anthem written by Taylor Swift featuring Chris Stapleton It was released as a single for the rerecoding and has a music video directed by Blake Lively in her dectorial debut. The song talks about a women who, in a I would say very Stevie Nicks style, talks about how her ex probebly still thinks about her. It’s a really fun song and deffinitley one you will want to sing along to no matter what your relationship status is. It feels very much like the other side of the coin as All To Well, I see the two as partners in crime.
Forever Winter is a song that looks at mental health, with Taylor Swift signning from her perspective as the friend. She cheaks up on him, but with that she doesnt know how bad things are for him. She talks about how it will be forever winter if he goes and she will be the light, his summer sun forever if it ment he wouyld stay around.
I think anyone who has had a friend or family member thats been that down, in such a bad place, maybe battaling addiction you have felt like this nad wanted to help. It’s a very diffrent subject matter from this album but it deals with heartbreak, just in a different way.
Run is the second Swift/Sheeran collaboration on this album, it is a simple acoustic ballad detailing either a friendship or relationship. Their voices just sound beautiful together with both bringing out the best country and folk vocals out of the other. The Very First Night is a catchy pop track about a secret relationship that Swift wishes she could go back to. It’s full of hope and sadness about it ending. She missed the subject of her affections, with references to running around having fun, , I think any great love story that doesn’t end terribly you always wish you could go back to the first night. Just to relive that moment.
All Too Well [10 minute version] (TV)
And there we are again when nobody had to know
You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath
All Too Well was one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs of all time, but the 10 minute version is a masterpiece of storytelling and lyrical use of imagery that is so vivid you can see everything Swift is singing about. You might not have felt this with someone, I know I have, but her writing here makes you feel like you have been . This song hits hard, especially for us ladies or guys, who have dated a person like this. or even had a person who likes to keep you around. She talks in the song about how damaging this relationship was and how it broke her.
Taylor Swift loves intensely and has the abelity to write songs that make you feel everything she feels. This is the whole story of her relationship with this man and you feel like you are going through it with her, every step of the way. This is a song that can be looked at an analyzed for hours but the point is, this longer version gives more context and really shows just how awful this relationship ended up being and also how damaging it was. She was 21 when this relationship ended, the man was older and ultimately treated her terribly and made her feel like she wasn’t good enough, breaking her confidence.
And I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes
“I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age”