By Abigail Beck
On Nov. 12, Taylor Swift released her re-recording of her album “Red,” titled “Red (Taylor’s Version).” Swift is currently on a mission to re-record all of her old music so that she can have ownership over her work. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is the second album that she has re-recorded, the first being “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” that she released on April 9.
I, along with many other early 2000s babies, grew up listening to Swift. Whether that be hearing “Love Story” on the radio or “Shake It Off” during P.E. class, Swift’s music has been a constant in my life.
On Christmas 2011, my parents bought me a Kindle. While they intended me to use it for reading, I was much keener on listening to “Starlight” on repeat. As I have continued to grow up, Swift’s music has become much more personal to me, and “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is no exception.
I am still getting accustomed to the notion of doing things I have never done before, and the past year has been chock-full of new experiences for me: I graduated high school, moved away from home, started college, etc. To handle major changes like these, I have to constantly push myself out of my comfort zone. I hate being in unfamiliar situations and getting used to an area so foreign to me only a few short months ago has been nothing short of an endeavor. “Treacherous (Taylor’s Version)” sounds like how it feels each time I come to terms with the fact that life is too short to be overly careful. I needed to be reminded that, “nothing safe is worth the drive.” While I don’t want to lose focus of where I’m headed, I also need to remind myself that staring straight forward is never the answer; peripheral views can be just as meaningful. Sometimes the best things in life involve taking a leap that is scary, but, in the end, worth it. Whether that be falling in love, taking a class involving a topic you know nothing about or chasing spontaneous opportunities, college is the time to jump, even when it goes against your instincts. It is the time to live a little more, to be presented with an abundance of independence and use it to find yourself, through the treachery.
Outwardly, my childhood fit every stereotype. I lived in a suburban town with my neighbors as my best friends. Our gatherings often consisted of blistered palms after playing on the monkey bars of the local park for too long, scrapes on elbows earned during street soccer and eyes that burned red after swimming in pools that contained way too much chlorine. My experience growing up in the neighborhood that I did was nothing short of comfortable. I knew the town, and, in a lot of ways, the town also knew me. Me, driving to school with the music too loud; me, always kicking my soccer ball into the neighbor’s yards; me, finding home in all the places I knew. Moving away meant that I needed to find home somewhere else. Swift’s “Begin Again (Taylors Version)” embraces what it means to start over and to find yourself through new beginnings. Swift notes that “for the first time, what’s past is past.” To repeat, my childhood appeared to be status-quo, but, most of the time, it was anything but. Sure, put-together young me did not reflect the struggles I faced at home and within myself. I am only a 30 minute drive from home, 45 minutes during rush hour. Still, leaving everything I knew behind removed the fear of running into someone I didn’t want to see or driving down a street that brought back memories I wished to forget. For the first time, I was able to be myself without barriers. Relentlessly me, no holding back. I look at myself and I see that I am truly able to begin again.
Swift’s re-creation of one of her most beloved songs on the original “Red” album, “All Too Well,” has given me the most to ponder following the week of the remake’s release. My first listen of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” consisted of me on my friend’s bed, cradling my shoulders, eyes shut tight. I think it is safe to say that most college students have experienced love, more specifically, the loss of it. This can mean platonic, romantic or familial love. In this song, Swift particularly focuses on the ending of a relationship that leaves her wondering where she went wrong and how she can move on. She sings, “They say all’s well that ends well / But I’m in a new hell every time / You double-cross my mind.” This lyric in particular has stuck with me. I’ve found that when someone is in my life, they never really leave, not entirely. I find them in the songs I listen to, the poems I read, the street art on my walks to the grocery store. Sometimes I feel like I’m in the hell that Swift describes, saddened by the fact that things will never be as they once were. Yet, I remember. The pieces of the people I’ve had to let go live on within me, whether I want them to or not. I cannot help but “remember it all too well.” I do my best to find solace in remembrance over romanticization. There is something undeniably bittersweet, but, ultimately, beautiful in knowing you were there, they were there, they remember it too. Never forget that you are also remembered, and worthy of it.
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