top of page

Taylor Swift’s Latest Re-Recording Is A Treasure Trove of Timeless Stories

It’s official Swifties, “Speak Now” has been returned to her mother safe and sound (pun very much intended). On July 7th Miss Taylor Alison Swift dropped “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” with each of the tracks from the original 2010 album re-recorded and sounding better than ever plus six “From the Vault” tracks. If you have been keeping up with her re-releases, you know that Swift prides herself on making subtle changes to production that make huge differences. Her voice, once higher pitched and slightly shaky, has aged like a priceless wine. While the songs themselves have been heard before, the feelings remain the same, and the meanings behind them change. This album started as diary entries by Swift between the ages of 18 and 20. Even though the album started being about confessions, largely romantic ones, like the leading lady singing the songs, it has grown and changed over the years. The way that the album incorporates different genres into Swift’s trademark country pop does feel like the album “made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter”.

Starting with one of my personal favorites “Mine (Taylor’s Version)”, Swift delivers the nostalgic opening track with beautifully matured vocals. She tells the story of college sweethearts growing and building a life together with such joy that you can’t help but picture our beloved blonde smiling. It feels like when she sings “you are the best thing that’s ever been mine” she’s talking about the album itself. You could picture a young Swift sitting by water holding a notebook full of diary entries that would become “Speak Now”. The aforementioned fight at 2:30 AM becomes less of a lover’s quarrel and morphs into an intense moment of artistic frustration. Perhaps at this hour, our songwriter was surrounded by papers with different drafts of songs. The moment when she almost says goodbye is akin to the frustrating moment of knowing what you want to say but not how to write it down and wondering if it’s time to give up. Perhaps you can see Swift’s face as she regains ownership of the work that she wrote all on her own.

In the lyric video for “Sparks Fly (Taylor’s Version)”, we get to see a younger Swift on the “Speak Now” tour. She looks perfectly preserved in time with her glittery dress and knee-high boots. Again, it’s less about romance and more about her art. She has been edited to have the voice of an older Taylor. An image of Swift reclaiming her voice for her younger self. Looking at it now, the song is a joyful love letter to her fans to see her perform. We see close shots of Swift’s face, always smiling, as she performs. While Taylor Swift may be one of the most famous pop stars on the planet, her concerts maintain an intimate feeling. On the Eras Tour, Swift has been surprising fans with acoustic renditions of different songs depending on which one she feels like performing that night. She does this both for herself and to give concert attendees a unique experience. She sees sparks fly in the smiling faces of everyone who shows up and is singing along as loudly as they can.

After hearing the emotionally charged and intensely angry “Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve”, “Dear John (Taylor’s Version)” feels like the aftermath of a thunderstorm. Not in the calm peaceful way but in a reflective, melancholy one. Once the angry storm has gone, all there’s left to do is look up at the gray skies and survey the damage. The pain doesn’t spark and light a fire in you once it’s gone out. Now there is just a wound. She’s hurt. Swift’s voice conveys this emotion in a way that brings you back to the first time the song was released. Her voice is perfect for storytelling. Starting with low, mournful tones reminiscent of the “folklore” era before crescendoing during the lines “Dear John, I see it all now that you’re gone”. All that time singing “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” has done her a lot of good because Swift smoothly weaves through conflicting feelings of anger, grief, regret, and heartbreak that her younger self was living through when this song was written.

To end on a happier note “When Emma Falls In Love '' paced the room so that “betty” could stand in the front porch light in her cardigan. Pleasant rhyme schemes and a pretty piano melody make this track sound a little like something off of “folklore”. Swift’s use of simple imagery tells a beautifully written character study of the titular “Emma”. A girl who calls her mom and jokes about the ways a new connection could fail like the others. A girl who is sure of herself and would never give up who she is just for a relationship. A girl who our lovely narrator admires from a distance. A girl who holds herself together until she’s alone and she can finally fall apart. With the amount of details that the narrator notices about Emma, it seems like even she has fallen in love with her.

All in all, this album shows Swift leaning into her storytelling side much like she did in “folklore” and “evermore”. She tells one story about two people being nervous about a first date and pinning all their hopes on the other person in the rock-driven “Electric Touch”. She tells another of a once powerful ruler who was beloved by their people becoming corrupt over time leading to their downfall in the haunting ballad “Castles Crumbling”. And she ends the album with a song that features multiple love stories of couples finding each other in different lifetimes. This album is essentially a collection of fairy tales that Swift wrote by herself as she was growing from a teenager to a young adult. These stories catalog her experiences in a way that allows other people to relate to them, making the album truly “Timeless”.

Written by J.D. Valdepenas

bottom of page