Album: Red (Taylor’s Version)
. . .
So, if you want to read all about the controversy that caused Taylor Swift to decide to re-record her first six studio albums, then I will direct you to the Taylor Swift masters controversy Wikipedia page, but for our purposes, I’ll distill it down to this: some assholes spent a shitton of money to get the masters of those albums, and Taylor was all “lol fuck you, I’ll just re-record those songs” assuming that in the long term, her re-recordings would become the canonical versions, thereby depriving the assholes from making money on songs she wrote or co-wrote.
This is not, of course, the first time an artist has done this — off the top of my head, I can think of the Everly Brothers, Squeeze and, ahem, U2 doing re-recordings of various fidelity to the originals — but judging from the artistic and commercial success of the first two fruits of her labor, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version), both of which came out in 2021, it’s easily going to be the best time an artist has done this.
That puts me in a weird position: as I mentioned before, Red was the first Taylor Swift album I ever listened to, so I was already pretty familiar with it when Red (Taylor’s Version) came out in 2021, so do I talk about the songs from the historical sense of 2012 or the contemporary sense of 2021? As always, the answer is “both.” It doesn’t have to be a binary, of course, especially since Taylor didn’t do any re-arranging of the songs — the whole point was to make them as close to the originals, though, obviously nine years is going to make some kind of difference, and I’m sure there are whole fan sites dedicated to A/B comparisons of the new versions vs. the old versions.
So I’ll just start with this: “State of Grace” starts off Red (Taylor’s Version) with a big, anthemic U2-style rock anthem, with big pounding drums and echoing guitars, over which she sings about being blindsided by a new relationship:
And I never (Never)
Saw you comin’
And I’ll never (Never)
Be the same
As “State of Grace” progresses, the guitars edge her forward, getting louder when she gets louder and quieter when she gets quieter, as a good stadium rock anthem does, climaxing with a shower of guitar shards, yodeled vocals, drum rolls and long held notes as the lighters all go aloft, especially when it breaks down one last time at the end.
This is a state of grace
This is the worthwhile fight
Love is a ruthless game
Unless you play it good and right
And while “State of Grace (Taylor’s Version)” wasn’t released as a single, it was the second highest-charting song from Red (Taylor’s Version), making it to #18. Which wasn’t quite as high as the original version which had topped out at #13. And holy shit is sorting all of this out complicated!
“State of Grace (Taylor’s Version)”
“State of Grace (Acoustic Version) (Taylor’s Version)”
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