If there's one song that truly defines Taylor Swift's talents as a songwriter, it's "All Too Well." At least to her fans, that is. The track off her Red album is classic in the fandom. Since she knows how much it means to her fans, Taylor even chose to sing it at the Grammys in 2014 when the song was never even a single. She's sang it time and time again – even as one of the surprise songs on her current Reputation Stadium Tour. And we all know that song isn't the easiest to listen to, since Taylor literally pours out all her heart, soul, and, emotions in those gut-wrenching lyrics about the downfall of her relationship with ex Jake Gyllenhaal. So we can only imagine how hard it is to keep singing time and time again. So why does she keep performing it?
Well, as Taylor explained, it's her fans' reaction to the heartbreakingly beautiful tune that has changed the way she views it. It's why she can easily break it out on the piano or on the guitar when she feels like the Swifties need to hear it. Speaking to the lucky crowd in attendance at small, acoustic show she did in Chicago — which you can watch on the latest episode of Taylor Swift Now for those who have DirectTV — she explained that at first, it was pretty emotional singing the song, but it has turned into something that reminds her of her fans now, and not the heartbreak it was inspired by.
"You know, it's interesting, looking back on writing a lot of songs about my life because when I first played it live, I'm obviously thinking about that experience that I had that inspired the song. That basic, initial experience that I had that I was writing about. Then it kind of, over time, it morphs. Because first of all, time helps you get over things, right? You hope, hopefully! That's the dream," Taylor said.
"But basically, I thinking that as time passes, what's so weird, my memory that when I relive a certain song, or when I play a certain song, changes from being about a person that was in my life, or an experience I had originally, and it kind of morphs into like, times I've played the song and heard you all singing it back super loud. So there's a song that I wrote that originally every time I when played it would be like 'Uggghhhh, ow.' And now, I play it and I think of the times I've played it in a stadium or an area or my living room with you guys screaming the words back to me. And so it changed it, and I wanted to thank you for changing it because it's kind of nice to sing a song that you're proud of, but not feel pain while you sing it. It's very nice."
OK, let that sink in for a moment. That is the true power of the bond between an artist and her fans right there.
This song sums up Taylor's music in a nutshell: she has a way of vividly describing her life experiences and yet somehow, it feels like she's singing directly to the person listening to her songs. She knows how to make meaningful yet still relatable songs. In "All Too Well" (which we know is about Jake thanks to the hidden message in the lyrics that spells out Maple Lattes and she sings about her scarf she left at his sister's house, which is what they were drinking and she was wearing in those pics we all saw of them out and about together) she looks back on a very specific memory of her time with this person who once meant so much to her and honestly every line of the song is just genius. Let's take a look at some of these lyrics that really just slay us all, shall we?
"And I know it's long gone, and that magic's not here no more/And I might be okay, but I'm not fine at all," she sings, later saying,
"You told me about your past thinking your future was me/And I know it's long gone, and there was nothing else I could do/And I forget about you long enough to forget why I needed to."
But the real punch is the bridge of the song:
"And maybe we got lost in translation
Maybe I asked for too much
But maybe this thing was a masterpiece
'Till you tore it all up
Running scared, I was there, I remember it all too well
And you call me up again just to break me like a promise
So casually cruel in the name of being honest
I'm a crumpled up piece of paper lying here
'Cause I remember it all, all, all... too well"
Like, girl, we ALL feel this. This song is a lyrical masterpiece. Knowing that Taylor now thinks of her fans and what it means to them each time she sings it – instead of the place of pain it all came from – is nothing short of remarkable.