Does the Near-Decade Between the Two Versions of Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” Make All the Difference?
In which I compare the original from 2012 to Taylor’s Version in 2021
It’s yet another week where I’m regularly listening to Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” on repeat. I keep finding new facets of this song to love. The vocals, music, and lyrics just blend into this perfect bittersweet concoction that I can’t get enough of.
But I wondered: how do I feel about the differences between the 2012 original recording and the 2021 rerecording? Someone might not even notice the subtleties besides a quick, “Oh, yeah, her voice has matured in the new version.”
What do I hear? Let’s explore that a bit.
The 2012 Version
“All Too Well” had never really been on my radar as a “must-listen” as far as Taylor Swift music goes. Maybe that’s because I didn’t really start paying attention until her 1989 era. Either way — I was definitely missing out.
But really? I’m glad we have the rerecording because it is the superior version.
The 2012 version almost feels like too big of a song upon initial listening: you have this young girl in her twenties singing about a love affair that shook her like an earth-shattering quake. It sounds like something that left her forever changed — but does it ring through as authentic? If you didn’t know a thing about Taylor Swift, you might even think someone else wrote this song for her to sing.
There’s a lot to unpack from just the idea that this young singer has known such heartbreak in such a short time, but I won’t focus on that as much. Even so, I must say: the lyrics hit different between the original and the recent rerecording. In the 2012 recording, there’s this youthful quality — for lack of a better phrase — where you can hear that this is still a fresh wound. You get the impression that the lyrics are being directed towards someone in real time, like one last attempt at absolution to bridge the distance.
You can also hear that this song was one of Taylor’s early attempts to straddle the lines of country music and pop fare. Her voice still has that “twang” of country styling…