By Lailah Gladney, Clarion Managing Editor
Taylor Swift’s new, 10-minute version of her 2012 song “All Too Well” re-examines her fan favorite in an undeniably raw and captivating way, exceeding expectations.
Since its original release a decade ago, the song has widely been seen as Swift’s magnum opus, the sheer example of her songwriting genius. But little did the world know what additional lyrics Swift was keeping from the world. She was waiting to take listeners on a journey starting November 12, 2021, that even the biggest of fans could not predict.
“All Too Well (Ten Minute Version)” depicts the internal and external struggles of the pain during the aftermath of a relationship that had a clear power imbalance. The new lyrics that some, myself included, would deem even more painful than their predecessors, shine a new light on the hurt of the situation, through Swift’s achingly poignant and sincere vulnerability.
In the original song, we follow a storyline with very specific events: Her, our leading light, meeting the sister of Him, the offender, and leaving her scarf; their intimate car ride with a scenic autumn route; his mother telling childhood stories; and their late-night kitchen dancing. We then go into depth about the fallout, and Her inability to escape it.
In the original version, fans quickly became swept up with one particular line, “You call me up again just to break me like a promise / so casually cruel in the name of being honest.” It is a pure example of Swift’s cleverness in her lyrics, mixed with the vulnerability that reaches so many, and is able to stretch with her impassioned delivery. We’re able to feel how intimate and personal the words are to Swift, yet simultaneously feel as if the words were ripped right out of our own minds.
In the newly released version, Swift puts more meat on the existing bones of lyrics – she first extends their car ride, and notes His inability to say he loved her, despite her anticipation. Swift continuously emphasizes the actions of Him, that put her in an unrealistic light, and cruelly keep her on a tightrope, at his careless disposal. With this, fans grabbed onto new lyrics in the same manner.
One of those lines reads, “You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath.” Noting the same elements that attracted fans to the original as well as adding a new edge, this lyric is loved mostly for its universal application and honesty. It proves effective in its play on words, taking 2 things commonly known to be kept: secrets and oaths. Not often thought of in the same regard, listeners recognize the vast emotional difference of both, and how the act of “keeping” something can be both negative and positive, depending on what is being kept.
More standouts include “The idea you had of me, who was she? A never-needy, ever lovely jewel, whose shine reflects on you”, where Swift highlights the impractical image He created of how she should behave. The gut-wrenching lyrics and beautiful imagery of this line is just another example of Swift’s artistry.
“All Too Well (Ten Minute Version)” allows original listeners of Taylor Swift to feel cut bone deep all over again, this time with the addition of a 15-minute short film, directed by Swift. The film stars Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, playing Her and Him, respectively
The addition of imagery to a song that distinctly speaks for itself made the entire thing feel more real and personal, seeing scenes that had been imagined come to life. The uncensored dialogue of the film made me feel angry and uncomfortable in the best way. To feel the passion of the acting and song so intensely truly brought the entire experience together.