“RECLAIMING HER POWER: (TAYLOR’S VERSION)”
Esther Gaon and Stephanie Marcus
To most teenage girls in today’s world, Taylor Swift is known as the queen of writing broken-hearted love songs. Her music has been an inspiration to millions, including both famous and non-famous fans. One widely known ‘Swiftie’ is Olivia Rodrigo, who says Taylor was a major influence on her songs in her hit album, “SOUR.” Swift started her career as a typical country-singing teenage girl in Nashville, writing breakup songs from the age of 14, when her first hit, “Fifteen,” dropped. The album to follow it, “Fearless,” has since won four Grammys, and Taylor Swift herself has won 11.
Swift initially signed with Big Machine Records in 2004, and then switched to Republic Records in 2018. Soon after, Big Machine, run by Scott Borchetta, sold Swift’s songs to Scooter Braun, famous music manager of Justin Bieber and Kanye West. Braun then refused to allow Swift to buy her music back when she tried and sold it to an investment firm known as Shamrock Holmes. Swift went to Twitter to respond to this matter: “All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at [Braun’s] hands for years . . . Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.”
Still, Swift wouldn’t give up on her songs so quickly; as retaliation, Swift promised to re-record her previous six albums under her control. As The New Yorker puts it, she was also “keeping their artistic sanctity intact.”
The first of the albums to be re-recorded was “Fearless,” which was originally released in 2008, and then again in March 2021. Every song is identical to when it was last produced, except for one thing: “Taylor’s version.” Each song title has the same name, but ends with the words “(Taylor’s Version)”. When Swift signed with Republic Records, she made sure that she had control of her music now. “Artists should own their own work for so many reasons, but the most screamingly obvious one is that the artist is the only one who really knows that body of work.” Swift posted this on Instagram in March of 2021.
The next album, released November of 2021, is “Red.” This not only included all the original 16 songs of the album, plus the songs of the deluxe version, but also “Ronan,” from her charity single; a new ten-minute version of the hit, “All Too Well;” six other tracks intended for the original album; a recording of “Better Man” written by Taylor herself but given to Little Big Town; and a version of “Babe” also written by Taylor and given to Sugarland.
Fans quickly took to social media to share their love of the album, especially the ten-minute version of “All Too Well.” One fan describes why the album, and this song specifically, resonates with everyone so heavily and makes fans feel so connected: “The reason ‘All Too Well’ and ‘Red’ have had an impact on so many people is because Jake [Gyllenhal] is just the embodiment of all those people who hurt us in relationships. I wish more people understood it's not about hating on some random actor that dated our favorite singer over 10 years ago. It’s about the words and how she’s given us a way to express the hurt.” Jake Gyllenhal dated Swift in 2010, and the album has since been connected to him by Swift’s fans, Swifties.
In the upcoming years, Swift hopes to finish re-recording the rest of the six albums in her fight for control over her music. Like the queen herself once said, “People are going to judge you anyway, so you might as well do what you want.”
Battan, Carrie, et al. “Taylor Swift Wins with “Fearless (Taylor's Version).”” The New Yorker, 12 April 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/taylor-swift-wins-with-fearless-taylors-version. Accessed 3 January 2022.
Ortega, Nina. “Why Swift made (Taylor's Version) – The Mesa Press.” The Mesa Press, 11 December 2021, https://www.mesapress.com/a-e/2021/12/11/why-swift-made-taylors-version/. Accessed 3 January 2022.
Bruner, Raisa. “Here's Why Taylor Swift Is Re-Releasing Her Old Albums.” Time Magazine, 25 March 2021, https://time.com/5949979/why-taylor-swift-is-rerecording-old-albums/. Accessed 3 January 2022.
Swift, Taylor, and Lindsey Stirling. “Taylor Swift.” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylor_Swift. Accessed 3 January 2022.
“People are missing the point of the Jake conversation : r/TaylorSwift.” Reddit, 14 November 2021, https://www.reddit.com/r/TaylorSwift/comments/qte84s/people_are_missing_the_point_of_the_jake/. Accessed 3 January 2022.