Illustration by Mackenzie Herring

Taylor Swift reclaims music, delights fans

I vividly recall being 8-years-old and hearing “Love Story” by Taylor Swift for the first time. I had made my dad take me to Best Buy to buy “Fearless” that summer, and I would play the album on my portable CD player in the car on the way to summer camp every morning. I remember being so enthralled by the music, dancing around my house and memorizing every word.

I remember every Swift album release since then and the euphoric feeling of hearing my favorite artist’s vulnerability in every song. I listened to “Fifteen” as I entered high school, preparing myself to walk through the door on the very first day and face freshman year. It was magical to understand “Fearless” in a whole new way as I went through the stages of life that the album is about: first heartbreaks, starting high school and growing up.

And now, I get to experience “Fearless” for the first time again. Today, April 9, Swift is releasing “Fearless (Taylor’s version),” a move she is making in order to fully own her masters after they were sold without her permission in 2019. 

Although the circumstances surrounding the re-recording of Swift’s first six albums are grim, there are silver linings. For a life-long fan such as myself, getting to hear this new version of “Fearless” so many years later feels almost cathartic. Swift has long been removed from country music, the genre she started out with, but she is not trying to modernize the songs that she wrote as a teenager. If  “Love Story (Taylor’s version)” is any indication, it will be almost identical to the original, with the exception of a more mature voice. The original producers and background singers are present on this new version, and it still hits the same way it did back in 2008.

It seems that Swift has less to prove than she did at 18. In releasing “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” she is including six songs “from the vault,” which she wrote at the time she wrote “Fearless” but was not able to include. According to Swift, it killed her to leave these songs behind. The first of these songs to be released, “You All Over Me (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) [Feat. Maren Morris]” is quintessential “Fearless”-era Swift. Her signature country twang and metaphors about rain fit in perfectly with the original songs, though it is produced by “folklore” and “evermore” collaborator Aaron Dessner. The second pre-released vault track, “Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” is co-produced by Jack Antonoff, who does a great job of taking Swift’s 2008 lyrics and creating a song that feels fresh and relevant in 2021.

This new version of “Fearless” has 26 songs, much longer than a standard album. However, Swift is no longer worried about the album being too long or having too many break-up songs. This time, she is doing this for the fans, the ones who want to dive deeper into the world of “Fearless” with her, an album that defined so many of our childhood and teenage years. Swift has often said that she is re-recording these albums so that her fans can listen to her old music without feeling the guilt of supporting music moguls such as Scooter Braun, who stole her life’s work. With “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” she is speaking directly to us. It feels like a collective look back on old memories and music, us and her, together. It does not feel like a chore or a rushed project she just had to get done. We are appreciating “Fearless” for what it is and what it means to us, celebrating the special connection between an artist and her fans.

Although it is sad that Swift’s life’s work was stolen from her, I for one am grateful for the opportunity to hear “Fearless” for the first time again. I am thrilled that Swift has chosen to make this experience an exciting one full of reminiscence and excitement. And I would like to issue an apology to my roommate, who will have to put up with me listening to “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” repeatedly for the foreseeable future.

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