Mare of Easttown, Fearless (Taylor’s Version), and Sound of Metal

Taylor Swift, Fearless (Taylor’s Version)

Hannah: I feel like it would be weird to call Taylor Swift ‘Swift’, or any other more professional nomenclature.

She’s Taylor.

I’ve grown up with her albums, her heartaches, and drama and triumphs. I don’t think it’s possible for me to think about her work objectively. So Taylor is how I’ll address her.

I was, in fact, just coming up to fifteen when her sophomore album, Fearless, came out in 2008. I remember being sat next to my best friend in maths class (an error made by a teacher who had never met me and didn’t realise what a nightmare we would be when put in close proximity), giggling and talking about it.

She was surprised I loved Taylor Swift. She assumed I was too cynical for it, but of course, that wasn’t the case.

Two years later, that same best friend would pick me up from my house during the school holidays and we would drive around the forty-five square mile island where we lived, stopping at various beaches and cafes for the entire day. Just driving, and chatting, and blasting Taylor’s songs, and screaming along on our ‘spontaneous days out’. ‘Picture to Burn’, ‘Love Story’, and ‘You Belong With Me’ got the most air-time being, of course, incontestably bangers of the highest order. Those are some of my favourite teenage memories.

So Fearless, needless to say, has a special place in my heart, even as I know that it isn’t technically Taylor’s best album, nor does it contain her very best songs (Jake Gyllenhaal, that 10-minute long version of ‘All Too Well’ is coming right around the corner to ruin your life). We’re grading on a curve here.

Taylor’s first re-release in her ongoing project to regain control over her first six albums is of course a nostalgia fest. Those twangs on the guitar that open the title track immediately transported me to the ‘simpler’ times of maths class, friend group drama, and (I’ll admit it) downloading the whole album via LimeWire. But I think this re-release carries deeper significance than that. This album coming out again thirteen years later has recontextualised the original in some surprising and beautiful ways.

‘Love Story’ transforms from being about Taylor’s teenage heartache to being about the love shared between her and her fans, thanks to the new lyric video. ‘You Belong With Me’ is now purely anthemic—you can practically hear her grin in the same way as the rest of us do as we belt out that chorus.

‘Tell Me Why’, on the other hand, still sounds rightfully and righteously pissed at the subject of the song, but now instead of being the fault of Joe Jonas’ infamous 27-second long phone call that broke 18-year old Taylor’s heart, it takes on the added fury and heartbreak of losing control of her life’s work, of the story of her life that she told with her own pen, to men she clearly despises.

I can only imagine how furious that would make you.

And ‘Fifteen’, a song which made fifteen-year-old Hannah scoff because “What does she know? She’s only four years older than me” (which is a terrifying thought in and of itself), has taken on infinite additional poignancy. It’s now a love letter to Taylor’s younger self, to her best friend Abigail, and to all fifteen-year-old girls past, present, and future listening to the song either for the first time, or the thousandth.

All the heady-rush of adolescence is contained in this album, from heartache to joy, yet the kernels of her extraordinary storytelling ability shines through in every song. The prescience with which an eighteen-year-old Taylor coyly wrote “Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday/But I realised some bigger dreams of mine” still makes me sigh dreamily.

It’s an album that makes me want to call my best friend and sit on the beach for an entire day, counting out the pennies in our wallets to see if we can afford an ice cream from the cafe. Despite the fact that we are now thousands of miles and two continents apart, despite our responsibilities, and that she’s happily engaged, and that the world has completely changed since we were kids, listening to Taylor in my best friend’s very first car.

So thank you, Taylor, for taking me back to 2008. And thank you specifically for letting me grow up with you in my ear.

Written by TV Obsessive

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