Taylor Swift Finally Unveiled the Extended Version of ‘All Too Well’
- Taylor Swift released the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” on Friday.
- The original track from Swift’s fourth album, 2012’s “Red,” has long been considered her best song.
- Fans have been begging the singer to release the full version for years. Here’s the story.
Taylor Swift has finally unveiled the extended version of “All Too Well,” a deep cut from her fourth album “Red” that’s long been steeped in fervor and folklore.
The highly anticipated rendition, officially titled “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” arrived on Friday as the 30th and final track on “Red (Taylor’s Version).” It’s the second album that Swift has rereleased since she left her former label in 2018 and Scooter Braun acquired ownership of her catalog.
“Red (Taylor’s Version)” includes rerecorded versions of all its original songs, as well as previously unreleased tracks “from the vault,” which were written around the same time.
When Swift announced the updated tracklist back in August, she confirmed it would feature the mythologized 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” sending fans into a bonafide frenzy — and based on Friday’s initial reactions, the long-awaited song did not disappoint.
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‘All Too Well’ was never released as a single, but still inspired cult-like devotion
“All Too Well” was originally released on October 22, 2012 as the fifth track on “Red.”
Almost immediately, it became a fan favorite. Swift said she was shocked by the reception.
“It wasn’t a single, and it didn’t have a video — all these ways that I was taught music permeated culture,” she said during a recent interview on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums” podcast. “I didn’t see that happening with that song.”
“I really didn’t pick that one,” she added. “I thought it was too dark, too sad, too intense. It’s fun when things surprise you like that.”
By the time the 2014 Grammy Awards rolled around — at which “Red” received three nominations, including album of the year — fans were begging Swift to perform “All Too Well” for the world. She delivered an impassioned, piano-driven performance that exposed the song’s raw emotional power to a much wider audience.
“I can’t believe it now when I play it live and everybody in the crowd knows every word,” Swift told Rolling Stone. “I’m truly astonished by it, and I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about this album for me when I look back on it.”
Over the years, as acclaim for “Red” steadily grew, “All Too Well” became a critical darling, too.
In 2019, Pitchfork described the song as “the centerpiece of ‘Red’ and potentially her entire career.” On Rolling Stone’s oft-updated ranking of Swift’s catalog, “All Too Well” has always held the top spot. It even secured her highest position on Rolling Stone’s industry-voted “500 Greatest Songs of All-Time,” placing at No. 69.
“All Too Well” also landed at No. 5 on Insider’s list of the past decade’s best songs, hailed as “a cinematic, five-minute masterclass on narrative structure.”
Fans have been asking to hear ‘All Too Well’ in full for nearly a decade
Clocking in at five minutes and 27 seconds, “All Too Well” was already the longest song on “Red.” But fans have known for some time that it could’ve been much longer.
On the morning of the album’s release in 2012, Swift appeared on “Good Morning America” and described “All Too Well” as the most difficult to write, emotionally.
“It took me a long time to filter through everything that I wanted to put in the song. It started out being probably, like, a 10-minute song, which you can’t put on an album,” she said. “It took me a really long time to get it to its final form.”
Thus, the legend of the extended cut was born. To this day, this is the top comment under that interview on YouTube: “Thumbs up if you’re a Swiftie still waiting for the 10 minute flawless/emotional version of All Too Well.” It was written eight years ago.
Swift also said she enlisted Liz Rose, her longtime cowriter, to help trim the song to a more traditional length.
Rose has confirmed several times that “All Too Well” was initially packed with double the details. In 2014, she told Yahoo! that it could’ve been 15 minutes long. (The interviewer opined: “Maybe when Swift is Rose’s age, we can get a boxed-set reissue of ‘Red’ that includes the unexpurgated eight-verse version.”)
“It was the first song she wrote for that record, I think,” Rose told Rolling Stone. “She had a story and she wanted to say something specific. She had a lot of information. I just let her go. She already had a melody and she started singing some words, and I started writing things down, saying, ‘OK, let’s use this, let’s use that.'”
Indeed, “All Too Well” was the first song Swift wrote after her 2010 album “Speak Now” that made it onto “Red.”
Its creation was somewhat spontaneous, coming after Swift had emerged from a draining relationship and a long stretch of writers’ block.
During a random soundcheck on the 2011 Speak Now World Tour, she started “singing and riffing and ad-libbing.”
“It was a day when I was just, like, a broken human, walking into rehearsal just feeling terrible about what was going on in my personal life,” Swift told Rolling Stone.
“I just ended up playing four chords over and over again, and the band started kicking in,” she continued. “People just started playing along with me… I think they could tell I was really going through it.”
Swift said her sound guy had recorded the impromptu session and decided to burn it onto a CD, just in case. When she listened back, she heard 10 or so minutes of soul-bearing and storytelling that would eventually become “All Too Well.”
“It literally just was that song, but it had probably seven extra verses and it included the F-word,” Swift said.
In the nine years since the song’s release, rumors and theories about the extended version in all its explicit, sprawling glory — as well as vehement pleas for its release — have bounced around Swift’s fan communities online.
The “All Too Well” lore became so tangled, the hunger so intense, that some fans even grew cynical. As one person wrote in a Reddit thread in 2018, referring to rumors of the soundcheck when the song was conceived, “Cue all the people begging/demanding to hear/see the recording just like they did with the 10 minute version that probably never existed anyways lol.”
The song’s extended version hammers home its lyrical brilliance
Thanks to unified praise from fans and critics, as well as a forthcoming short film starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, “All Too Well” was bound to become a focal point of “Red (Taylor’s Version).”
But the long-awaited arrival of the 10-minute version has also allowed admirers to appreciate Swift’s lyricism anew.
Many fans have latched onto the newly added phrase, “Fuck the patriarchy,” which appears unexpectedly in the song’s the first half.
Another standout line, “You kept me like a secret but I kept you like an oath,” has inspired heartfelt memes and frantic reactions online.
The third verse is entirely new and littered with harrowing, deeply specific accusations: “You said if we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine / And that made me want to die,” she sings before accusing her ex-boyfriend of charming her dad and skipping her 21st birthday party.
With Swift’s mature vocals and production from pop savant Jack Antonoff, the 10-minute track displays a masterful marriage of nostalgia and modern taste.
But more than anything, it proves Swift’s ultimate power lies in her unparalleled skill for world-building and myth-making — turning snide comments into catastrophes and whispers into fantasies.