I was merely a teenager when All Too Well by Taylor Swift was released with her 4th studio album, Red. I think I knew this song would always be important to me just based on the very first listen, but at the time, I barely had a clue about even an ounce of the impact the song would have.
The song begins just as the first version although one immediately notices her matured vocals as they grace the track. I waited patiently for the new lyrics which I think were the most important thing to me on this album. This may be because the Red album, particularly All Too Well, was the reason I started writing in the first place. The first new verse begins with “And you were tossing my the car keys / Fuck the patriarchy.” Although I knew she has sworn in her previous two records, as a long-time Swiftie, her cursing also catches me off guard in the best way possible. I think opening with these lines shows us how much she’s grown. For her to dive deeper into what she was feeling at the time and show us a more exposed version is a sign of her evolvement from her 22-year-old self. Nothing seems to be holding Taylor back this time around.
Her voice is powerful instantly, as it seems she has reclaimed the pain that this song was originated from. Another line that instantly took me aback was “You kept me like a secret / But I kept you like an oath." It's a small detail that packs a big punch, saying so much about the meaning of the relationship in only a handful of words.
Taylor has always said that this song that once made her so sad was reclaimed by fans and made into something knew through the love they have for it and the passion put into screaming every single word. Even with all it's specific details, fans have still found ways to make it incredibly personal and relatable. This is probably Taylor's strongest power in all of her music and All Too Well is a perfect reflection of that.
Finally, I think the line that holds the most impact is "I'll get older but your lovers stay my age." I personally had to pause the entire song when I first heard it solely to just have a moment to take it in and process it. It's incredibly bold and rings very true if you feel inclined to do some research into the person who inspired the song. Her confidence shines through in a multitude of ways on this track through not only her vocals and conviction, but through the lyrics themselves. All Too Well, in my opinion, has always lyrically been her best work and I never thought it could get any better–until it did.