Swift talks with Fallon about the true story behind her favorite song from the now super-sized 30-track “Red (Taylor’s Version),” which released at midnight.
Fans have been waiting almost a decade for this one, and not just because it means Taylor Swift has one of her most iconic albums fully under her ownership. After years of teasing, they’re finally getting the whole story of the relationship behind the track “All Too Well,” which most believe was with Jake Gyllenhaal.
It’s the details like the lost scarf that had people connecting those dots, but Taylor herself has never clarified one way or the other who the song was about over the years. But what she has done is tease a ten-minute version of “All Too Well” which tells more of the story.
According to Pop Crave, her fans will definitely want to tune in to her appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, as Taylor is planning to play the full 10-minute version of “All Too Well” live there.
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) November 12, 2021
It took the tumultuous chaos behind her masters — when they were sold to Scooter Braun rather than Taylor, leading to her decision to re-record all of those early albums to have full control of them — for that tease to finally become reality.
“Red (Taylor’s Version)” is the second album in that ongoing project, joining “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” And like the first album she re-released, “Red TV” is jam-packed with bonus content, super-star collaborations, tracks “from the vault” — and a version of “All Too Well” that’s nearly twice as long as the original and, according to Taylor, the true original.
That means twice as much story, and Taylor definitely delivered on that front. Already lauded for its stellar lyrics in the original version, Rolling Stone gave the epic 30-track album five stars and said she’s made a “classic even better.”
The lyrical differences kicked off with authority in the second version with a vehement “f— the patriarchy” over him tossing her the car keys. “And I was And I was thinking on the drive down, any time now / He’s gonna say it’s love, you never called it what it was / Till we were dead and gone and buried.”
“Check the pulse and come back swearing it’s the same / After three months in the grave,” she continues. “And then you wondered where it went to as I reached for you
But all I felt was shame and you held my lifeless frame.”
Four lines added onto the chorus add so much more texture to the heartbreaking story, with Taylor singing, “And there we are again when nobody had to know / You kept me like a secret but I kept you like an oath / Sacred prayer, and we’d swear / To remember it all too well, yeah.”
One line that has fans thinking even more that this is about Gyllenhaal comes in the fourth verse, where Taylor references their age difference (Gyllenhaal is nine years her senior) and how she was made to feel like an ornament or a pretty jewel.
“You said if we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine / And that made we want to die,” she sings. Later she references an actress in a bathroom at a party asking her what happened? “You, that’s what happened you,” she sings out. Finally, she compares the unnamed lover’s “sipping coffee like you’re on a late night show.”
Could the Hollywood of it all be very specific references to the fact that she’s singing about a Hollywood star who’s certainly spent plenty of time on the couch at various late-night talk shows?
By the time we got to the fifth verse, there was some anger building, as Taylor got in a savage dig at her ex, singing, “And I was never good at telling jokes but the punch line goes / I’ll get older but your lovers stay my age.”
During her appearance on “The Tonight Show” Thursday to promote the album, Taylor told Jimmy Fallon that it was this version of this song she was most excited to share with her fans.
She talked about how oftentimes her favorites aren’t necessarily the singles or the tracks that get videos made, and that “All Too Well” was that track for her off of “Red.” But then her fans found it, and it became their favorite, as well.
“The way this song was written was I was going through a bit of a sad time,” Taylor undersold the story of her at 21. In a story she’s shared before, she was at band rehearsal playing four chords on repeat with her guitar when the band joined in and she started ad-libbing what would become the song.
But the version she ad-libbed, without her knowing it, was recorded by her sound guy and it’s that version that basically makes up what’s not been released.
“I think I know what they are wanting,” Taylor said when Fallon asked what she thinks the reaction from her fans will be. “I think the version that we’re putting out tonight is gonna be for them the new standard of what this song is because it is the original form.”
She also took some time to talk about the latest iteration of the story behind “All Too Well,” which is coming to life in the form of a short film written, directed by and starring Taylor Swift, though not in the lead role. She nabbed Sadie Sink (“Stranger Things”) and Dylan O’Brien (“Teen Wolf”) for those honors. The film releases to YouTube Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
Later in the show, she talked about her penchant for Easter Eggs — promising that the “All Too Well” music video is packed with them — and even played a silly game of “Box of Lies” with Jimmy.
You can check those out below, and when you’ve got ten minutes and some change to spare, you’ve gotta immerse yourself in (Taylor’s Version) of “All Too Well” with the lyric video above. Plus, aside from their release across various streaming services, Taylor has released lyric videos for each of the album’s 30 tracks on her YouTube channel.