“Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” highlights nostalgia of Swift’s older music, showcases her maturity


Republic Records [Fair Use]

Taylor Swift released her first re-recorded song, “Love Story (Taylor’s Version),” Feb. 12. The rest of the album (“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”) will be available April 9.

All of the sudden, the lights go dark. Everyone in the audience screams in response, knowing who’s about to arrive. Neon glow sticks illuminate the arena, and everyone’s hearts beat in sync. 

Just as the audience’s anticipation reaches its peak, music blares from the speakers. The curtains rise, and dozens of dancers dressed as cheerleaders run from the stage in every direction. 

That’s when I see her, the most famous 20 year-old in the country. She rises from below the stage in a glittery, gold-embellished marching band uniform, hand on her hip. Though she’s meters away from my seat on the left side of the arena, her confident and collected stage presence makes her look like a giant compared to her background dancers. Then, I hear the voice of an angel sent from the heavens.

“If you could see that I’m the one who understands you. Been here all along, so why can’t you see? You belong with me.” Dramatic pause. “You belong with me.”

Seeing Taylor Swift in concert as a first grader is one of my core memories. I saw the “Fearless” Tour on March 30, 2010 at John Paul Jones Arena. Her performance was absolutely captivating. From witnessing her iconic silver minidress while she sang “Hey Stephen” in the nosebleeds to screaming the lyrics to “Should’ve Said No” at my tiny lungs’ full capacity, Swift gave the concert of a lifetime to seven year-old me. For subsequent weeks, I sat in front of my CD player and repeatedly listened to every song on Fearless without ever skipping a single song. 

The recent release of “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” has reincarnated my love for the “Fearless”-era Taylor Swift that I saw live almost 11 years ago.  I’ve always been a Taylor Swift fan, and I like some songs much better than others. My personal favorites are “Back to December,” “Dear John,” “All Too Well” and “Don’t Blame Me,” and my least favorites are every song on “Lover.” However, there’s something about her re-recording of “Love Story” that has turned me back into a real Swiftie. 

In 2019, Swift announced that she was going to re-record her first six albums starting Nov. of 2020. These albums were recorded under her previous label, Big Machine, so they previously had full ownership and control over all of Swift’s master recordings. This was until June 2019, when Big Machine was sold to Ithaca Holdings along with all of Taylor’s work for $300 million. This company is owned by Scooter Braun, an entrepreneur and music manager who was allegedly associated with Swift’s feud with Kanye West. Swift has accused Braun of “manipulative bullying,” so it was her “worst case scenario” when her recordings were sold to him. Thus, Taylor has decided to re-record these six albums to gain full artistic control over them. They are intended to replace her previous albums, therefore making them completely separate entities.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I opened Spotify on Feb. 12 to play “Love Story (Taylor’s Version),” Swift’s first re-recorded single. But whatever I was expecting, she blew past. I immediately noticed the crispness of the instrumentals in comparison to her original. Though the exact same notes are played, the banjo and drums at the beginning simply sound sharper and more particular. This continues throughout the song (especially with the violins), and it showcases Swift’s attention to detail. It’s like she finally had the opportunity to fine-tune exactly how she wanted every instrument to be played. 

Then, she begins to sing. The maturity and control in her voice is far beyond that of her original version. Her once youthful breathiness has been replaced with a deeper, more deliberate and enunciated voice that she’s mastered over the past decade. However, she’s very true to her original in that there’s no major differences between the recordings in terms of the way Swift delivers each lyric. It’s the same song, but because of her matured voice and meticulous sound mixing, it’s objectively better. 

There’s not too much to analyze in terms of differences between “Love Story” and “Love Story (Taylor’s Version),” but perhaps it’s the nostalgia associated with the former that makes the latter so much better to me. Swift was all I wanted to be when I was in first grade. “Love Story” was her first song that I ever heard, and it’s what sparked an idolatry. I have horrendous drawings of her in my elementary school diary, and I even asked my parents for a guitar after her concert so I could learn just like she did. The re-recording brings back all of these memories and more, like singing the original during the “Fearless” concert and wailing it in the car with my teammates during my freshman-year cross country season. Hearing the maturity in the re-recorded version causes me to reflect not only on how much she has grown since her original song but also on how much I have grown. The “Fearless” album was such a vital part of my childhood, and it’s only now that I realize how long ago that it was when I attended her concert. It’s been over a decade, and I’ve been through elementary, middle and almost high school since.  

I’m almost the same age as Swift was when she released the original “Love Story” in 2008. She has grown and changed immensely over the past 13 years, and I have absolutely no idea where I’ll be in when I’m at her current age of 31. I do know, however, that I’ll still be singing the same songs (albeit, re-recorded) that I’ve been singing since I was seven years old. Her music truly does stand the test of time, and I can’t wait to hear the rest of her re-recorded songs to come.  

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