For a 23-year-old woman like me who has gone back to the 2012 album RED every time I have wanted to cry over some guy who did not even know about my existence, watching the All Too Well short film was emotional rollercoaster ride. Thanks to Taylor Swift, November 13 has been one of the most eventful Saturdays I’ve had in a while.
Forgive me if I am taking it a bit far, but what a six-week-long relationship between Jake Gyllenhaal and Taylor Swift did for pop culture can hardly be compared to anything. Swift did not just establish herself as the queen of break up ballads but proved with her verses that there is nothing uncool about heartbreak.
By releasing her version of the album after almost a decade Swift took agency of her most cherished work of art and her fans relived the good old days. The times when they felt something completely out of the ordinary. The vulnerability, the sappy feelings they barely got to share in their own words. It is absolutely surreal how Swift has been able to validate so many unsaid feelings of my generation.
Watching her belt out the lyrics behind the scenes in All Too Well, ” And you call me up again just to break me like a promise. So casually cruel in the name of being honest,” has raised more than a trillion goosebumps.
Like a responsible Swifty, I diligently went through all the long captions and emoji-loaded posts of her other fans who were equally moved by the Swift magic. And I could not help but ask Swifties to hyperventilate over the song, the album and Taylor Swift without a word limit.
Here is what they told me about All Too Well short film and Swift in general:
“I was fourteen and naive when I first heard the album and the song (All Too Well) in 2012. I hadn’t been through half of the things Taylor was talking about, but I can still remember listening to it on repeat, singing along, trying to cover the songs without entirely understanding the place they were coming from. Blame my adolescence. Now, when I am twenty-three and have a little idea about… well, life; listening to the songs and the album is a different experience altogether. Same song (just a little longer), same singer, the same person listening to it, but these nine years make all the difference. And I think maybe that’s what makes T.S so loved across the globe. In a way, we all have grown up together, experienced different things, and we have had someone who has represented and validated our feelings through these albums. While growing ourselves, we have witnessed her growth too through her incredible songwriting skills and I am sure we would continue to do so in the future.”
“I was always a casual fan of Taylor Swift that enjoyed most of her songs. Then during the lockdown, after Folklore and Evermore were released I became a full-blown fan. Watching All Too Well: The Short Film was an incredible experience. The casting was perfect and it really highlighted the creepiness of the age gap. Hiring an actual teenager to play the role of the teenager made it impossible to find the relationship portrayed on screen as romantic.”
“I have had a really special connection with the album RED. This is because it was released at a time when I was in high school and we were all going through crazy emotions – feeling love, hatred, jealousy and anger. red as also described by Taylor is not envisioned as an album indicating a single colour – it’s a spectrum, red is a spectrum. In my head, it’s a spectrum of all those emotions I was experiencing at that time. I don’t have any particular memories of heartbreak from that time but just the general feeling of being back in that time feels so thrilling. It’s similar to smelling an aroma that evokes old memories in you, I think I would call it closest to that feeling. All Too Well has been a fan favourite since LONG. To see Taylor release it as a single is firstly very emotional because we have known that song for like 10 years and now everybody will know it? It feels like sending off your child to school. The critics say it, the fans say it – everyone says it’s the best in her discography. I didn’t like it as much as others before, but now that she has released the 10-minute version of it, I think I see it too. I think it’s impossible for her to make another song like that or give what she gave to that song – she gave it her all. What I love the most about the song (and just Taylor Swift in general) is how personal her songwriting is and the ways she has let us into her narratives.”
“In our teenage years, I often saw people making fun of Taylor Swift for making songs on her exes. But I never agreed. I mean if an artist is drawing inspiration from her life, what’s so wrong with that? She’s making money off of heartbreak. I feel that’s a power move in itself and the best way to move on. You are in a way immortalising the love you felt. As a kid you are often told, girls who have boyfriends are bad. But her music made me realise there is nothing wrong in loving and dating and putting yourself out there. Then came you belong with me. I have shouted, screamed and sang out loud to her music to feel my love for crushes. It’s like she made my emotions feel heard and valid. All too well – a 10 minutes song over a three months relationship. It made me realise that time isn’t what judges the intensity of your love. It could be a few weeks and a person can make you feel a feeling so intense that it defines an important chapter in your life.”
“It’s nostalgic, it’s also a little heartbreaking, but that’s what Taylor is about. Her songs are like a warm blanket during peak winters? If that makes sense? I like to listen to Taylor majorly because of the lyrics.”
“RED first came out when I was a rebellious teen, wreaking havoc in class 10th, instead of keeping up the expectations of my parents at studying. I was doing all sorts of forbidden things like being on Facebook and even gasp liking someone. Despite that, the lyrics were too deep for me. It was fun and aspirational. I wanted to feel those feelings. I wanted to know what it was to be “happy free confused and lonely at the same time”It was dramatic to scream the lyrics of we’re never ever getting back together to an imaginary ex. It felt strangely at home to vibe to ‘begin again’ when my attention moved towards someone else. But then I grew older. And these experiences started becoming realities. One of the worst realities that I had to live through was reflected succinctly in certain parts of All Too Well. Thankfully, that hurt passed too.
Being 24, it’s a surreal feeling to go through these songs again. I’ve grown up with Taylor Swift. I’ve grown up with the Taylor who shamed another woman for stealing her man (better than revenge, Speak Now) to holding men accountable (Mad Woman, Folklore) and with her I’ve grown up to unlearn a lot of messed up things that society, especially patriarchy has taught us.”
“In RED album All to Well that’s the only song I absolutely adore. I know TS writes songs on her exes. I will be defensive of her. Many of us draw inspiration from personal experiences and TS’s forte is storytelling via her relationships.I mean I grew up with pop songs and Taylor Swift dominated my Teenage years. All too Well, for us swifties is a one special song on innocent love.”
Views expressed by the author are their own and other Swifties.
Watch All Too Well Short Film Here: