What is Taylor’s Version?


Courtesy of Taylor Swift Instagram (@taylorswift), 11/15/21

Jerry Meranus, Features Editor

Taylor Swift is a household name, but why would she re-record her old albums if they already were a hit? And what does “Taylor’s Version” even mean?

Taylor Alison Swift of West Reading, Pennsylvania is a well-known artist who specializes in country, pop, and now alternative music.  When Swift was 15 she signed to Big Machine Records, then owned by Scott Borchetta, she overlooked the idea that he had control of her masters. Masters refer to original recordings of a song that are used as the source for later copies. As time passed, Swift yearned for control over the music she worked so hard to write, but due to her restrictive contract signed over 13 years ago she was not able to. Swift hints to this struggle in her song “it’s time to go,” a bonus track on her newest album evermore of 2020. She says, “he’s got my past frozen behind glass, but I’ve got me” potentially referring to her platinum records that hang in the Big Machine Records’ office. 

In a blog post from June 30, 2019, Swift said, “For year I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my own work. Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past.”

In the same post, Swift talks about the purchasing of her masters by Scooter Braun, a record executive. Braun boasts a strong lineup on his label including Justin Bieber and Kanye West. Swift and West have been in an on-again-off-again feud since his infamous MTV Video Music Awards interruption of Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Video for a Female Artist in 2009. According to Swift, Braun participated in “incessant, manipulative bullying.” Needless to say, his ownership of her masters was a devastating blow.

Swift found a bit of a work around to gain back ownership of her masters: to re-record her old albums so they could finally be hers. Adding the “Taylor’s Version” to the end of an album became the indicator that it was one she actually owned. First, Swift re-recorded Fearless (Taylor’s Version) in April 2021, then Red (Taylor’s Version) in November 2021. Swifties wait every day and night for an announcement and find every single “easter egg” possible that hints to the “third sister album of folklore and evermore” or the new “Taylor’s Version.”

 Even though the albums have the exact same songs, there are some bonus tracks in addition to a few musical differences. In both Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version), the maturity in her voice has changed. 

Red (Taylor’s Version) came out on November 12, 2021 with the long awaited 10-minute rendition of “All Too Well” and two new music videos including one directed by Blake Lively (Gossip Girl) and one directed by Swift herself.