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Maggie Klaers | The Observer

You already know what’s up — Scene Selections (Taylor’s Version) are below.

“State of Grace (Taylor’s Version)”

By Abby Patrick, Viewpoint Editor 

First impressions are hard. I’ve made enough questionable ones to know. I don’t know what Taylor Swift put in “State of Grace,” but I think she had me at those drums. Or the little hint of guitar? In my mind, “State of Grace” is purple — a deep but bright, subtle, living blue-purple like a city at twilight. The fresh air of the change from day to night. It’s the golden lightness of a new love, something that took your breath away — and maybe never gave it back. You can hear Taylor’s maturity in the rerecording, her older voice lending hindsight to the lyrics as she sings of knowing that this new person might leave your heart in a beautifully tragic mosaic of broken pieces. But in the midst, it feels fated, a state of grace. What better way to open a break-up album than acknowledging the way people come into your life, and the way they leave you changed forever, and the way that you maybe don’t even care at first.  Because, like listening to “State of Grace,” from the first instant you were hooked … And you never saw it coming. 

 

“I Almost Do (Taylor’s Version)”

By Mannion McGinley, Sports Editor 

“I Almost Do” served its exact purpose in Taylor’s Version, just as it did the first time we heard it. The sound? Deeper. The vocals? Crisper. And the pain and longing? They sit heavier on your chest than they ever did before. 

And that’s completely intentional, because “I Almost Do” is meant to hurt. Think about the track order: “All Too Well” is the moment you realize you’re done. You remember it all, but there’s nothing more you can do. There’s anger and frustration in that moment. Then, at “22,” you’re trying to forget it all. After the year that was 21, you move on to 22 and begin a better one, having the time of your life. But then the party ends, which brings us to “I Almost Do.” The moment you’re cleaning up the night, saying goodbye to everyone and walking home alone. All you want to do is call them, share the jokes from the night and see them smile just because you’re smiling. But you can’t. This time through, Swift was breathier on the bridge, sitting in her ethereal dream of being together again. She smashes that daydream like a glass hitting the floor, bringing her belt and guitar back in to close the bridge and leave you sobbing at the beauty and the accuracy this song holds.

 

“Girl at Home (Taylor’s Version)”

By Nelisha Silva, Assistant Managing Editor

Controversial take: I’ve always loved “Girl at Home.” It’s been the cause of many arguments with friends as to why I like it when it’s “totally a skip,” but I’ve stood my ground for the past nine years and now, with Taylor’s Version finally gracing our ears, I feel absolutely justified in my defense of the song.

While the majority of the changes between the original and the rerecording are subtle differences noticed by the most diligent of fans, “Girl at Home” takes on a totally different quality than it did on the original “Red.” Taylor’s Version fully embraces this track’s identity as a fun pop song, with its upbeat and electro mixing by Elvira Anderfjärd, the Swedish producer who recently produced two dance remixes for Swift. Rather than the nostalgic and almost reluctant sadness of the original recording, this version offers a sharp and unforgiving rebuke of the man in question.

To me, this song exemplifies everything to love about the rerecordings. While the song might be familiar, listeners are given the opportunity to hear and enjoy it as Swift originally intended — not how a corporate music label did.

 

“I Bet You Think About Me (feat. Chris Stapleton) (From the Vault) (Taylor’s Version)”

By Issy Volmert, Assistant Managing Editor

I knew this would be an absolute banger from the second I heard the harmonica riff at the beginning of this ballad, which calls back to Taylor’s country roots and forward to the familiar notes of “Betty.” If you think the 10-minute “All Too Well” rips the ex-that-shall-not-be-named apart, just wait until you hear the insults in this one. In a song and music video that dropped on Monday, Taylor uses irreverence and the wisdom of time to reminisce on a past relationship in which “Mr. Superior Thinking” found out it was much harder to forget Taylor than to dump her. She, however, sings from a place of healing and thriving, and the ex is the same as he always was: shallow, demeaning, performative and “scared not to be hip/scared to get old.” She implies he will never not be this way. Taylor’s perspective now, as the successful 31-year-old icon that she is, only makes this savage and upbeat masterpiece all the better. “I Bet You Think About Me” aged like fine red wine in the vault these past 10 years. 

 

“Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor’s Version)”

By Adriana Perez, Editor-in-Chief

In this long-awaited feature, Phoebe Bridgers lends her magical voice to the most nostalgic of tunes. This song feels like Taylor plucked my heart out of my chest and studied it for a long time. She once again demonstrates a genius ability to lyrically capture a profoundly human feeling, timely for so many of her listeners: the fear of growing up.

More so than any of Taylor’s other songs, this is the soundtrack to my life right now. The song playing on repeat in the mind of an overwhelmed college student; the only (and oldest) sister to three boys; responsible, reliable; a fighter, a crier; a words of affirmation kind of lover. A light that took so long to dare to glimmer, already burning out so fast. I was talking to a friend the other day and couldn’t properly express the existential dread I’ve been feeling. Then: “You’ve listened to ‘Nothing New,’ right? That.”

“How did I go from growing up to breaking down?” “How can a person know everything at 18 but nothing at 22?” These questions are, indeed, what I think about when I wake up in the middle of the night. Time escapes me and it’s frightening — the more it does, the less I feel I know my place in the world. This song makes me feel seen, scared, loved. Everything in between. Only great music does that.

 

“Forever Winter (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

By Genevieve Coleman, Saint Mary’s News Editor

There are a lot of things that make “Red (Taylor’s Version)” feel nostalgic to me. “Forever Winter,” in particular, takes me back to a time where I loved many people who were struggling with their mental health. The song’s upbeat melody aligns with how both the subject of the song and the people I knew claimed they were OK — when in reality they were not. Taylor’s lyrics reflect both the beauty and the grief of trying to save someone who might not want to be saved.

However, “Forever Winter” also transports me to a time where I did not want to be saved from the forces in my mind that told me lies about my loved ones. That they would not live in a “forever winter” without me.

Taylor encapsulates a narrative of mental health that has only started to emerge in mainstream media in the last several years. Taylor’s refrain, “I’ll be summer sun for you forever,” brings warmth to me — someone who identifies with the resilience needed to battle mental illness. 

To all those who might be in their own forever winter: I promise that it will get better. You are someone’s summer sun.

 

“The Last Time (feat. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol) (Taylor’s Version)”

By Alysa Guffey, Notre Dame News Editor

“The Last Time (Taylor’s Version)” is at the top of my list when it comes to songs off “Red,” and Taylor only had to ask me once. I was always a big fan of this song because of the honesty, passion and desperation Taylor and Gary both bring to it. Just like the original recording, I’ve always thought Gary and Taylor have their own unique sound to capture the despair, perfectly sharing their individual experiences while collectively sharing their heartbreak. Capping in at less than 5 minutes, the song also makes you feel their struggle to leave, even though they know it’s time to give up. It is a slow burn, but nevertheless, it is a real goodbye. 

 

“Better Man (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

By Siobhán Loughney, Talent & Inclusion Manager

Country fans and new-age Taylor stans alike can rejoice (or cry) at the sound of “Better Man.” This track was pulled out of the vault in 2016 by the country group Little Big Town and by Taylor herself for multiple live performances. While retaining the nostalgic twang of Swift’s earlier music, Taylor’s version of “Better Man” adds an ethereal feeling, especially as the song opens. 

The whole song pulls at your heartstrings, but listening to it provides two distinct experiences. The first half is a gentle showcase of Taylor’s voice with a more delicate sound building into the second half, which is full of emotion and stronger elements of her country sound resonating throughout the chorus. This lends the song well to a “singing alone in your car” playlist. 

This track’s familiarity feels like a warm hug, yet its lyrics provide all the emotional turmoil of the rest of the album. As someone who remained a fan of country music long after Swift’s departure from the genre, it goes without saying that “Better Man” was a more than welcome addition to “Red (Taylor’s Version).”

 

“Holy Ground (Taylor’s Version)”

By Evan McKenna, Managing Editor

I’ve heard claims that “Holy Ground (Taylor’s Version)” is slightly slower than the original. I don’t know if this is true — and frankly, I don’t care. The kick drum in the first verse still sends my entire body into orbit.

The new “Holy Ground” feels a bit more focused. And this makes sense — the song has always been about remembrance. But now, Taylor’s had almost 10 years to reminisce while having coffee all alone. It’s not 2012 anymore: Joe Jonas has a wife now, and the first-glance feeling on New York time is but a distant memory. 

So Taylor’s got time on her side. Because of this, the rerecording seems a bit less lost in the throes of a fresh breakup. It sounds clearer, more mature — like she’s taken one step closer to the mic. And the synths that kick in at the midpoint are much more pronounced, driving up the playful energy and preserving the song’s status as one of the most danceable tracks on “Red.”

Slower or not, “Holy Ground (Taylor’s Version)” is still worthy of a dance party. And if anyone does a side-by-side BPM analysis of the two versions, please email me your findings.

 

“All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

By Maggie Klaers, Graphics Editor

Taylor has long said “All Too Well” is her favorite song on “Red,” and that she was so happy the Swifties felt the same way. 

She’s coming for Jake Gyllenhaal’s throat and for our tear ducts — the first time I listened to the 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” I might’ve cried in the shower. If she can take Gyllenhaal down like this in 10 minutes … John Mayer better run for the hills.

This song came into being while Taylor was in a band rehearsal for a tour and found herself in an extremely sour mood. She started playing a few chords on her guitar, ad-libbing how she was feeling. Soon the band joined in, and they went on playing like that for 10 or 15 minutes. After rehearsal, Taylor’s mom asked the sound guy if he had somehow recorded it — thank god he had. The 10-minute masterpiece that is “All Too Well” are the original lyrics from that session.

That pure, raw emotion is amplified by the haunting harmonies (see 6:42 for an out-of-body experience) and the building intensity of the guitar throughout the song. In closing, F*ck the patriarchy, f*ck Gyllenhaal, long live Taylor Swift.

 

“The Moment I Knew (Taylor’s Version)”

By Colin Capece, Assistant Managing Editor

As a rookie Scene writer trying to figure out what song to review in order to avoid completely embarrassing myself, “The Moment I Knew (Taylor’s Version)” instantly grabbed my attention because of its simplicity. The tempo is slow, the lyrics are clear and concise — a perfect fit for a newly baptized Swiftie like myself. Yet when juxtaposed with the preceding track, “Begin Again (Taylor’s Version),” I realized this song is a lot deeper than first meets the ear. These songs explore the two different sides of hope, and going back to listen to them one after the other just about shattered my heart into a thousand tiny, little, bite-sized pieces. While “Begin Again (Taylor’s Version)” paints a picture of hope for what’s ahead in a new relationship, “The Moment I Knew (Taylor’s Version)” is the hope that the thread the relationship is hanging on to won’t have to be cut. The slow pace reflects the life being drained out of T-Swizzle as she waits for a lover who’s never coming back. When the song finally reaches its conclusion and her man offers a sad excuse for an apology, my girl is so heartbroken that she just can’t deal with it anymore. Some things in life we know are doomed to fail from the start, but it’s the things we had high hopes for and attempt to see through to the bitter end that ultimately hurt the most. 

 

“State of Grace (Acoustic Version) (Taylor’s Version)”

By Christine Hilario, Scene Writer

One of my controversial Taylor Swift takes is that “State of Grace (Acoustic Version) (Taylor’s Version)” is better than “State of Grace (Taylor’s Version).” While “State of Grace (Taylor’s Version)” is an undeniable banger and a hell of an album opener, this stripped down acoustic version really makes you feel like you’re in a state of grace. 

“State of Grace (Acoustic Version)” was the first version of the song I heard. I didn’t listen to the rock version of “State of Grace” until the acoustic version had solidified itself in my mind as one of Blondie’s best ballads. The acoustic version has such a wistful, hopeful quality that makes the relationship fallout that happens over the course of the album all the more tragic. You can also really appreciate the strength of Ms. Swift’s lyricism in this stripped-down version. The way Ms. Swift describes her and her lover as “just twin fire signs, four blue eyes,” makes me believe in soulmates. Both Jake Gyllenhaal and Taylor Swift are Sagittariuses and have blue eyes, by the way. Overall, I just think this version needs more love — something that Ms. Swift seemingly didn’t get enough of in her relationship with a certain blue-eyed Sagittarius actor.

 

“Stay Stay Stay (Taylor’s Version)”

By Sophia Michetti, Scene Writer

Why do I love “Stay Stay Stay (Taylor’s Version)” so much? Maybe it’s because it’s a song on a heartbreak album that says love doesn’t always end badly. Maybe it’s because I’m an eternal optimist who appreciates the addition of Taylor saying “that’s so fun” at the end of the song. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of a theme song to an early 2000s Disney Channel show and I love feeling nostalgic. Any of those reasons are good enough for me to keep dancing along to this song whether I’m sitting in my college dorm desk chair today or in my rocking chair when I’m old and gray. “Stay Stay Stay (Taylor’s Version)” is the epitome of cutesy songs. I’m here for it and the smile it gives me every time I listen. Even among all the heartbreak songs on “Red (Taylor’s Version),” we can still have all the happy feels that make this album an emotional masterpiece. 

 

“Babe (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

By Maggie Clark, Scene Writer

“Babe” is a song originally recorded by the country band Sugarland on which Taylor Swift only served as lyricist and background vocals. In “Babe (Taylor’s Version),” however, Swift brings a totally different meaning and aura to a song cut from the initial recording of “Red.” Instead of the almost rustic country sound presented by Sugarland, Taylor’s Version is more upbeat, complete with country-pop production from Jack Antonoff, co-producer of many of Swift’s other pop songs on this album and in the rest of her discography. Personally, I love this new production, especially for a song like “Babe.” I think that the use of horns in this version in addition to the increased echoing background vocals are particularly strong aspects of the song. The repetition of backing lyrics such as “What about your promises, promises?” brings a new meaning to the song reminiscent of Taylor feeling broken “like a promise” in the legendary “All Too Well.” Overall, as is the case with the rest of “Red (Taylor’s Version),” Taylor Swift only improves an already-excellent song with “Babe (Taylor’s Version)” a song you definitely do not “wanna be the one that got away.”

 

“Run (feat. Ed Sheeran) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

By Anna Falk, Scene Writer

Out of all the new additions to “Red,” I found “Run” to be particularly beautiful and enjoyable. Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, to me, seem like unlikely friends, but it is obvious that they make wonderful music together. Their harmonies blend into a melodious and saccharine tune about fully embracing their love for the other. The song is chock-full of references to their extensive discographies and the use of imagery provides the listener with an alluring tale about lovers running away from the stresses of the world to be with each other. While it is simple, its simplicity allows for full surrender to the instrumental and vocal elements of the piece; what it lacks in complexity it makes up for in emotional content. Despite the title, listening to this masterpiece did not make me want to run. 

 

“22 (Taylor’s Version)”

By Caitlin Brannigan, Scene Writer

Listening to “22 (Taylor’s Version)” brings back fond memories of singing and dancing along to the original and its plethora of YouTube parodies (even the Minecraft one) as a young child. I feel that with age, I understand the raw emotion Swift illustrates through her music. So, I was particularly excited about Swift’s remake of this song. Originally released as a successor of sorts to “Fifteen,” “22 (Taylor’s Version)” features a catchy instrumental working in tandem with timeless lyrics that capture all the joys and uncertainties of youth. In many ways, Swift’s portrayal of conflicting emotions resonates with the experience of college students. She describes how happy she is and how much fun it is to be with her friends, but also touches upon loneliness and anxiety. The update features a slightly more digitized version of the instrumental, adding a bit to the track’s bubblegum pop sound, which reflects her cheerfulness and excitement for the future as a young woman. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” as a whole is an amazing album that covers a wide range of emotional experiences. “22 (Taylor’s Version)” perfectly encapsulates the struggles and joys of being young.

 

“The Lucky One (Taylor’s Version)”

By Gabby Beechert, Scene Writer

One thing I love and hate about “The Lucky One” is that it is incredibly misleading. It’s impossible not to be drawn in by the song’s eight second fade in and nod along to the beat. It feels good. Even at 21, Swift possessed the incredible ability to completely immerse listeners into another person’s story, a skill that would define her later albums “Folklore” and “Evermore.” Every time I listen to this song, I transform into the burgeoning star that Swift sings about. 

I’m on the red carpet, cameras flashing, making it look like a dream. But it’s nothing more than a fleeting moment. This upbeat, supposedly feel-good song is actually one of her most vulnerable. Let me tell you, I felt it too. I don’t just learn of the struggles living in the spotlight. I feel her pain deep in my soul. The tinge of sadness in Taylor’s voice when she sings “you don’t feel pretty, you just feel used” makes me want to lie face down on the ground. Even though this song was written nine years ago, the rerecording is still full of so much emotion that I think some part of Taylor must feel this way. This song is an emotional journey, but consider yourself lucky if you get to experience it.

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About Abby Patrick

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Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, Nelisha currently serves as an Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. Previously, she served as Viewpoint Editor. You can usually find her reading books, doing crosswords or talking about being from Vegas.

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About Genevieve Coleman

Hailing from the great city of South Bend, Genevieve Coleman is a junior at Saint Mary's majoring in English literature & writing and secondary education with a minor in theatre. She currently serves as Saint Mary's News Editor.

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About Alysa Guffey

Alysa is a junior pursuing a major in history with minors in digital marketing and journalism, ethics and democracy. While she calls Breen-Phillips her home on campus, she is originally from Indianapolis. She currently serves as the Notre Dame News Editor.

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Siobhan is a sophomore majoring in Economics. She comes from Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, but lives in Welsh Family Hall at Notre Dame.

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About Evan McKenna

Evan is a senior at Notre Dame from Morristown, Tennessee majoring in psychology and English with a concentration in creative writing. He is currently serving as the Managing Editor of The Observer and believes in the immutable power of a well-placed em dash. Reach him at [email protected] or @evanjmckenna on Twitter.

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About Maggie Klaers

Originally from Minneapolis, Klaers is a sophomore biology and visual communications design major. She currently serves as Graphics Editor.

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About Colin Capece

Colin is a senior at Notre Dame, majoring in political science and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He hails from the great state of New York and currently serves as an Assistant Managing Editor at The Observer for the 2021-2022 academic year. You can sometimes find him on Twitter at @ColinCapeceND

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About Sophia Michetti

Sophia is a junior from Toledo, Ohio studying English and global affairs. She enjoys all things entertainment and dogs (especially beagles). Thank you for caring enough about her articles to read her bio!

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About Maggie Clark

Maggie is a freshman from Cleveland, Ohio (go Browns!) majoring in English and business. She loves Taylor Swift, cheesecake, and her dog, Molly.

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About Anna Falk

Anna is a sophomore studying neuroscience, French, and linguistics. You should follow her Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/annam.falk?si=88e09848b64547c3

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