On August 5th, Taylor Swift took to the internet to announce the track list for her newest album, Red (Taylor’s Version). The album is one of many in her process to rerecord her first six albums to gain ownership of them. Having announced the album more than a month ago with cruelly scarce information, fans were delighted to finally gain more news on the highly anticipated rerecord.
The new album includes all 20 songs from the original 2012 record, from radio hits I Knew You Were Trouble and We Are Never Getting Back Together to the cultish fan favourite All Too Well. In addition to these songs, however, Swift decided to include 10 unreleased songs that hadn’t made the initial record, which sparked a huge delight on the internet. With these songs never having been released before, some may be confused as to why they are so highly anticipated and why some fans have eagerly been waiting up to 9 years for their arrival. I’m here to analyze their history and everything we know from the vault tracks so far!
Taylor Swift via Instagram
Although not having been formally released on the Red album, the song Ronan was released as a single on iTunes in September of 2012. Taylor Swift performed the song live on a Stand Up to Cancer Telethon, in which all the proceeds from the single were donated to cancer charities. The ballad was a single Swift had written based off of a blog by Maya Thompson. Thompson wrote the blog about her late son, Ronan, who tragically passed away in 2011 from neuroblastoma. After reading her blog, Swift invited Thompson to one of her concerts in Arizona, where she shared the song she’d written about her son. Swift credited Maya Thompson as a co-writer on the song, using some of her quotes in the lyrics. To this day, the two are friends, with Maya Thompson allowing Swift to include Ronan on her re-recorded album.
Taylor Swift alongside Maya Thompson and Ronan's sister Poppy Ronan Thompson
Better Man was a song Swift had written but sent to the country group Little Big Town to sing. The song was released in 2016 and won many awards, such as Song of the Year at the CMA Awards and Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the Grammys. Like most of the vault tracks, Better Man was written for and intended to be on Red.
Swift performed the song live a few times after its release, with her most notable performances of the song being at the Bluebird Café (where she was discovered!) and at her Nashville stop for her Reputation Stadium Tour in 2018. These performances sparked a desire for Swift to record the song professionally from fans. Now, fans are ecstatic that they are finally getting a professionally recorded version!
Babe had originally suffered the same fate as Better Man in that Taylor had written the song but sent it to another group to record. The song was sung by the country duo Sugarland, although Taylor did sing backup vocals on the track. She even appears as a character in the music video donning red hair. Just like Better Man, the song was quickly overshadowed by Swift’s involvement rather than the group recording the song. The song was released in 2018.
Taylor Swift and Brandon Routh in the Babe music video
All Too Well (10 Minute Version)
All Too Well is a beloved fan favourite that has, indeed, garnered a cult following throughout the years. Many fans declare it as their all time favourite Taylor Swift song; several magazines have honoured it by putting it on their Best Songs of the 2010s Decade Lists. The song is widely considered as Swift's best lyrical work and plays a huge role in her reputation for being such a talented songwriter. The soft rock classic has even sprung a sub fandom for itself through the midst of Taylor Swift fans (if you hear any joke about scarves, it’s most likely a reference to the song). Unlike other vault tracks, this song had the luxury of being included on the original album. Like the name suggests, All Too Well (10 Minute Version) is indeed a 10 minute long version of the original 5 and a half minute song. All Too Well was the first track Swift wrote for Red alongside co-writer Liz Rose, whose involvement was strictly on cutting down the lengthy song. So in this new version, we’re getting it all – 10 minutes of uncut song lyrics, including the infamously cut F word Swift revealed existed in the original song to the Rolling Stone.
The track is everything that diehard fans have been waiting for for years, persistently believing they’d get it, despite Taylor continuously denying it’d ever get released. Looks like fans really do get their voices heard!
Although not much has been revealed about the other vault tracks, Swift still has easter eggs for some planted throughout her past work. Nothing New (featuring Grammy nominated artist Phoebe Bridgers) was revealed in a published journal entry by Swift in 2019. In the entry she revealed it was inspired by Joni Michael’s “A Case of You,” also writing a snippet of the lyrics: “I’m getting older and less sure of what you like about me anyway / How can a person know everything at 18 and nothing at 22 / And will you still want me when I’m nothing new?”
Swift also revealed that the vault track Run (featuring Ed Sheeran) was the first song they’d ever written together. It was written when they first met, all the way back in 2012. It will be interesting to hear the song that started such an extensive friendship and all their future collaborations!
Who’s not excited about the Red rerecording? With all the extensive history behind these songs, it’s no wonder why fans have been anticipating their arrival for years. Taylor Swift has definitely put a strong ear forward in listening to what audiences want to see in this new record! Keep an eye out for Red (Taylor’s Version), out November 12th!