On October 22, 2012, Taylor Swift fans shared a communal experience as they listened to the album’s lead single, “All Too Well.” For the first time, red. The six-minute long song is a heartache anthem about Taylor’s troubles with her relationship with ex-boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal. When Taylor began dating the 29-year-old Hollywood actor in 2010, she was only 20. The couple dated for only three months before splitting up in early 2011.
The song “All Too Well” quickly became a fan favorite of Taylor’s. Fans of Taylor Swift were understandably curious to hear the extra material after learning that the extended version ran for up to 20 minutes. It took a long time to filter everything I wanted to get into the song without it being a 10-minute song, which you can’t put into an album, Taylor said of All Too Well during her 2012 interview on good morning America when she called the song “the hardest to compose on the album.”
When asked about the difficulty of writing the song, she said, “I wanted a story that could function as a song and I phoned my writer Liz Rose and said, ‘Come on, we have to clear this up.'” And Liz recalled that it was even longer, saying in 2016 that “All Too Well” was probably a 20-minute song when Taylor called her.
Fans had been asking Taylor to release the original recording for years and she finally complied with their request with the release of a new recording last year. In case you missed it, in 2019, the singer revealed that she would be recreating her first six albums because Big Machine Records had sold the rights to her original recordings to her opponent, Scooter Brown.
Taylor promised to re-release all songs produced with them to devalue the originals, stop Scooter from benefitting and take legal ownership of the tunes themselves. Taylor released her renditions of well-known songs and songs “From the Cellar” that were created for other albums but ultimately were not used. For instance, in November, Taylor released “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)” on her record label, which included the extended, explicit version of “All Too Well,” thereby satisfying her fans’ requests. 13 in the previous year.
But Taylor didn’t stop there; she made a short film to go along with the song she directed and released it as a music video. Fans of the movie quickly compared the age difference between Sadie Sink (playing Taylor) and Dylan O’Brien (playing Jake) in the film. Dylan has facial hair not dissimilar to Jake’s in the music video and he also wears a beanie that looks suspiciously like the one Jake had in the paparazzi photos of him and Taylor that he picked up during their relationship.
Taylor highlights an insignificant passage in the song about her leaving her scarf at the home of Jake’s sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, to further depict Dylan’s character in a terrible light, consistently underestimating the afflicted Sadie. In the first stanza, she sings, “I left my veil there at your sister’s house and you still have it in your drawer even now.” Later, she returns to the topic, singing, “But you kept my old veil / Since that first week / Because it reminds you of innocence / And it smells like me / You can’t get rid of it.”
After Sadie exits the frame, the camera focuses on the red scarf she left draped over the stairs. Many years after the events depicted in the film, Dylan may be seen gazing out the window at his ex-wife while still donning the same scarf. She reaffirmed the significance of the scarf in Taylor’s life, going so far as to offer a red “All Too Well” scarf for sale on her merchandising site.
Taylor was asked about the significance of the scarf at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday, when she and her CEO, Cameron Bailey, screened the short film and discussed its creation. Taylor was puzzled as she attempted to explain the significance of the scarf during the test. It’s a metaphor, the scarf and we dyed it red because, well, the record is called “red,” so it seemed fitting.
Taylor continued after some uncomfortable laughter: “Um… and I believe when I say it’s a metaphor, I’ll stop… and I’ll say thank you for the great question to whoever asked. You took us for a ride with that, thank you.”
Fans have long speculated that Taylor’s virginity is symbolized by the scarf and her embarrassed reaction and the declaration that it is metaphor support this hypothesis. One fan posted in November, “I will always think the scarf represented Taylor’s virginity,” despite contrary evidence. A second author in 2020 added, “The scarf that Taylor was talking about so well was her virginity and in this essay, I shall.”