Taylor Swift opens up old wounds as she reclaims her first six albums


Glenn Francis / Wiki Commons

In 2004, at age 14, Taylor Swift signed a music publishing deal with Sony/ATV, becoming the youngest signing in the company’s history. In 2006 Swift signed with Big Machine Records and scored her first Top 40 hit with “Tim McGraw.”

In 2005, young Taylor Swift signed to Big Machine Records, which was the beginning of her professional music career that would last for six albums, until her contract expired with the label in 2018. 

The contract with Big Machine Records came back to bite Swift after her departure because of the recording deal that states that the label owns all of her original recordings and that they can do whatever they want with them, which is what they did when Swift changed record labels.

Swift moved to Universal’s Republic Records with the intent to secure ownership of her future recordings. Meanwhile, Big Machine Records sold Swift’s original recordings to Ithaca Holdings, owned by music manager Scooter Braun, for $300 million in 2019. 

The masters are worth so much because every time songs are bought or streamed, profits are made. Now, any time people press play or purchase Taylor Swift’s first six albums, they are directly supporting Braun. Swift publicly made this transaction known, along with her plan to re-record all six of her albums so that she could reclaim her own music. 

So far, Swift has re-recorded two of the six albums; “Fearless” and “Red.” In an interview, Swift explained that her new music, with the description “Taylor’s Version,” means that she now owns it again.

Along with re-releasing these nostalgic albums, Swift decided to expand the experience by releasing  “vault songs,” which are songs that Swift had written along with each of the albums that didn’t quite make the cut, along with each re-recorded album they belong to. 

These re-recorded albums are not meant to sound extremely different. In fact, they sound very similar to the originals. The albums do sound clearer, and Swift’s voice sounds bolder and more mature than before. Her voice is easily detected if one listens to the songs back to back, especially the opening to the first song in the “Red” album.

After a decade of growth, Swift decided to open up old wounds as she ventured into her past heartbreaks that are housed in each song she has re-sung. In the remake of the album “Red,” Swift focused on the song “All Too Well,” which looks at her relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal which had a 10-year age gap.

Along with expanding the song and creating a 10-minute version, Swift created a short film that acts as a more in-depth look into her three-month relationship that both affected and inspired her. 

This album represents so much of Swift’s growth as both a singer and a person, acting as a transition from her country phase to a more pop genre which was a huge breakthrough back in 2012. 

Swift has always defied expectations that are placed upon her in very public ways. Her album, “Reputation” is the embodiment of these expectations as she created a seductive and angry array of songs that responded to allegations of her being a heartbreaker, and accusations saying she didn’t deserve her fame. 

The first album that was released under her new contract and that Swift rightfully owned is “Lover.” This album marks a new beginning for Swift and acts as a love letter to her blooming relationship, her new contract, and has few undertones of sadness that are present but don’t overcome the fun-loving feeling of the album as a whole. 

The albums “Folklore” and “Evermore” were recorded and released merely five months apart in 2020, followed by the re-recordings of “Fearless” and “Red,” which came out months apart this year. Needless to say, Swift has been extremely busy on this journey to reclaim her art while also releasing new albums that she created stuck in quarantine. 

Swift is unlike any other artist in the way that she is so connected to both herself and her audience. She stays true to herself and proves haters wrong in the most classy way she can; by responding with new music phenomenons.

Going from a small country singer to pop to indie folk to creating a short film to re-claiming her music, Swift proves to be unstoppable, even with the amount of things the world has to say about her. “I’d like to be my old self again,” Swift sings in “All Too Well,” and she exceeds this statement by seeming to find herself more strong and mature as ever as she looks back at what made her the star that she is today.