Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Taylor Swift takes us down an emotional path that we know all too well.
There’s no denying that “All Too Well” has always been the broken heart and mended soul of Taylor Swift’s Red. The song became an instant fan favorite when the album was released back in 2012 — its flashbacks of a romantic trip upstate with a lost love crystallized in amber and wrapped in a long-lost scarf, tucked away in a drawer for safekeeping.
But in the months and years following the album’s release, whispered rumors began circulating within the annals of Swiftie Tumblr that a longer, uncut rendition of the Red centerpiece existed somewhere in the vault that was Taylor’s mind. In fact, the rumored 10-minute version was spoken of with such hushed reverence by the singer’s most ardent fans that it eventually took on an almost mythic quality — the ever-elusive crown jewel at the heart of all Swiftian folklore.
Nearly a decade on, Swift has finally gifted us with the unabridged version of her greatest lyrical work as the closing track of Red (Taylor’s Version), out today, November 12th. And for any fans who might have worried the real couldn’t possibly live up to the legend, fear not. The song is a masterclass in heartbreak balladry.
Rather than simply tack on an additional verse or two, the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” takes us down unexplored paths, diving into Swift’s pain and nostalgic longing in minute, crystalline detail. From a “F–k the Patriarchy” keychain dropped into the first post-chorus stanza to the unnamed actress pressing for post-breakup dirt in the bathroom of some fancy Hollywood soiree in the newly expanded bridge, this is Swift as we’ve always known her — albeit with a slightly 2021 update to show she’s grown, just as her fans have, over the past decade.
As the song reaches its hazy final coda, Swift’s sentimentality hardens into something sharper and more wounding than wounded. “And I was never good at telling jokes/ But the punchline goes/ I’ll get older but your lovers stay my age,” she sings. Just before the track cascades into the echoing abyss of memory, the superstar sticks the landing with the one last question: “Just between us, do you remember it all too well?” The answer is, it’s something we’ll never forget.
— Glenn Rowley