Taylor Swift breathes a new life into “Love Story” ahead of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”

In a brighter, crisper rendition of the classic banjo riff that echoed across pop and country airwaves 13 years ago, Taylor Swift’s re-record of her breakout hit “Love Story” kicked off a new era for Swift and her fans on Friday.

It was 2008 when a bright-eyed 18-year-old Swift revamped the telling of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in the lead single from her sophomore album “Fearless.” Giving the star-cross’d a happy ending they’d been deprived of in their conception 400 years earlier, Swift reconnected young audiences to country music with “Love Story.”

13 years later (surely no coincidence, given Swift’s obsession with the number 13), Swift breathed a new life into the breakout hit with “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” on Friday. The single comes ahead of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” the first of Swift’s re-recorded albums. The album, complete with six previously unreleased tracks from the vault, will release April 9.

“Only I know which songs I wrote that almost made the Fearless album,” Swift said on social media. “Songs I absolutely adored, but were held back for different reasons … Those reasons seem unnecessary now. I’ve decided I want you to have the whole story, see the entire vivid picture, and let you into the entire dreamscape that is my Fearless album.”

Swift’s voice has aged finer than the finest of wines, and her trills of a new “Fearless” era are proof. Her matured vocals have merged with the “Love Story” lyrics that graced the ears of innumerable wedding-goers for a perfect testament to Swift’s accomplishments as a musician.

Sonically speaking, the original and re-recorded versions are essentially identical, apart from Swift’s clearly blossomed vocals. But a trained Swiftie ear can detect the slightest of differences in “Taylor’s Version.” 

it’s the way that i have chills right now pic.twitter.com/2ILjYgQNUh

— Sam Wieder (@swieder13) February 13, 2021

The rumbling slide of an electric guitar as they key changes for the final verse. More deliberate, drawn out fiddles, which are sure to draw in the country audiences of 2021. Where Swift once sang alongside backup harmonies from former producer Nathan Chapman, she sings alone on “Taylor’s Version.” 

These key deviations from the 2008 version provide an important distinction from it while still paying homage; Swift herself does not own the 2008 recording of “Love Story,” or any of the master recordings of her first six albums, which she created with Big Machine Label Group.

When Swift moved from Big Machine to Republic Records and Universal Music Group back in 2018, it meant saying goodbye to ownership of her back catalogue of records from 2006-2017. Swift had long pleaded with Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta for ownership of her first six albums; when he offered Swift the opportunity to earn back her master recordings – one album for each new one she put out – she made the decision to leave them with Borchetta at Big Machine.

Controversy arose from the sale of her master recordings by Borchetta to Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings, LLC. Swift has expressed distaste in the deal for the better part of two years, citing Braun as the peddler of “incessant, manipulative bullying” for years. In 2020, Braun sold those master recordings to Shamrock for a cool $300 million.

“For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work,” Swift said on Tumblr in 2019. “… When I left my masters in Scott’s hands, I made peace with the fact that eventually he would sell them. Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter. Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to.”

Swift went on to say that both Braun and Borchetta were simply trying to control a woman who wanted to cut ties. The ownership of her life’s work by a person she considers an adversary inspired Swift to re-record her back catalogue of albums as soon as she was contractually allowed.

“I’ve spoken a lot about why I’m remaking my first six albums, but the way I’ve chosen to do this will hopefully illuminate where I’m coming from,” Swift said. “Artists should own their own work for so many reasons, but the most screamingly obvious one is that the artist is the only one who really *knows* that body of work.”

“We were both young when I first saw you” takes on a new meaning with the release of “Love Story (Taylor’s Version).” Where it once referred to the tragic tale of our high school English classes, it now speaks to the 13-year journey Swift has taken alongside her fans since her breakout record at just 18 years old.

In the lyric video, Swift appears in many photos with young fans taken during the Fearless era. Just as Swift’s voice has matured, so have the fans to whom she’s given so many anthems.

On Swift’s 2020 song “it’s time to go,” Swift seems to reference the fight for her the work of her multi-genre, decade-and-a-half career.

 

15 years, 15 million tears
Begging ’til my knees bled
I gave it my all, he gave me nothing at all
Then wondered why I left
Now he sits on his throne in his palace of bones
Praying to his greed
He’s got my past frozen behind glass
But I’ve got me

 

As Swift, now 31, breathes new life into the lyrics she wrote on her bedroom floor as a teenager, we can see the claim “But I’ve got me” rings true.

At the dawn of an era where she’ll finally gain ownership of her own stories, Swift sings “Love Story” with a confidence and authority like never before on “Taylor’s Version.” From the bottom of my heart, I can’t wait to hear this same joyful authority on the re-records of the rest of her back catalogue.

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