In Rotation: Red (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift – The Vault Tracks

In Rotation: Red (Taylors Version) by Taylor Swift – The Vault Tracks

Taylor Swift is no stranger to taking risks with her music. She is a trailblazer who is not afraid to try new things, whether it be new genres or fighting back for her right to own her music. Following the masters to her albums and songs being stolen out from under her and sold to other people in the industry, on February 11th, 2021, Taylor announced that she’d be releasing her album Fearless (Taylor’s Version) on April 9th – the first in a series of 6 albums that she’d have to re-record and re-release in order to own her music again. Taylor had initially released Fearless on November 11th, 2008. The second (Taylor’s Version) album that she released was Red on November 12th, 2o21, which had its initial release on October 22nd, 2012. Each (Taylor’s Version) that comes out, is accompanied by “vault tracks,” never before heard songs that Taylor had written for each respective album that just weren’t quite ready at the time of its first release. For Red (Taylor’s Version), Taylor included 9 never before heard vault tracks at the end of the album. So, let’s get into the breakdown–


Better Man (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]

Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]

Babe (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]

Message In A Bottle (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]

I Bet You Think About Me (feat. Chris Stapleton) (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]

Forever Winter (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]

Run (feat. Ed Sheeran) (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]

The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]

All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]



1. Better Man (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault] 

Synopsis– The first vault track on the album follows Taylor’s series of thoughts after getting out of a toxic, and maybe even abusive relationship, and eventually coming to terms with the sorrow that is to follow the breakup. She originally wrote the song to be on Red but ultimately chose not to include it on the album. In 2016, she gave the song to Little Big Town to record as their own, and their rendition wound up soaring to #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, winning CMA Song of the Year and winning a Grammy for Best Country/Duo Performance.

Lyric Pullouts–

“I wish it wasn’t 4 a.m., standing in the mirror 

Saying to myself, ‘You know you had to do it’ 

I know the bravest thing I ever did was run” (Pre-Chorus)

Taylor reflects on the decision she had just made, the decision to end her relationship with someone whom she loved so dearly. She knew that it was what had to be done, but it was not something that she wanted to do, nor was it easy for her to go through with it. Leaving a toxic and emotionally abusive relationship is extremely difficult and draining for someone to do, because no matter how bad it is, there is still so much love and trust attached to that person that it seems surreal that they could have even done a thing like that.

2. Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]

Synopsis– This track is about a plethora of things. Taylor states explicitly that when she wrote it, she was reflecting on growing up and the fear of getting older. It conveys messages of the difficulty and uncomfortableness that come to young women in the industry from grown men as they age and as soon as they begin to change in any way whatsoever. Taylor expresses how hard it is to keep getting older, how scary changing is, and how she is starting to believe that no one is going to want her around any longer because of this. Phoebe Bridgers was the first female artist that Taylor featured on one of her songs that has gotten a full verse instead of just backing vocals. I think it was one of the best choices she could’ve made as I feel like Phoebe’s voice fits so well on the track and the two of their voices mesh extremely well together.

Lyric Pullouts–

“How can a person know everything at eighteen 

But nothing at twenty-two? 

And will you still want me 

When I’m nothing new?” (Chorus)

Taylor expresses that the younger you are, the more you feel you know, and while you age, it becomes evident that you really have no idea about anything at all. She is going to continue to be a young woman in the industry and while her music may, she is not going to change. She feels as though if she stays the same, or remains “nothing new,” the industry and her fans will no longer like her or want her around, even though she is just doing what she loves. We are all just humans discovering things day by day and it’s such a shame that people with more knowledge will hold that against you as if they weren’t in the same position once in their lives.

“I know someday I’m gonna meet her, it’s a fever dream 

The kind of radiance you only have at seventeen” (Bridge)

In these lines, Taylor is exploring what it feels like to be an artist in the music industry who is continuing to get older and watching new and upcoming young artists seemingly taking her place. It’s obvious that Taylor isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and that she is still astronomically popular, as she’s aging, she’s getting cast out more and more while the next best things are getting all of the attraction. She knows that this new replacement is going to be someone that she encounters inevitably at some point, and she’ll just have to act like everything’s fine and dandy.

Taylor’s Commentary– In an interview from 2019, Taylor spoke on how many people, especially men, viewed her in the industry. She said “Men in the industry saw me as a kid. I was a lanky, scrawny, overexcited, young girl who reminded them more of their little niece or their daughter than a successful woman in business or a colleague.  The second I became a woman, in people’s perception, was when I started seeing [the sexism in the music industry].” (via Vogue)

3. Babe (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]

Synopsis– This is the second vault track featured on this album that Taylor had written and given to another artist prior to this album’s release. In “Babe”‘s case, Taylor gave the song to the band Sugarland, who recorded and released their version in 2018. Taylor has said that this was a song she had absolutely loved and adored when originally writing Red, but felt as though it didn’t really fit on the album. She gave it to Sugarland so that it’d still exist somewhere else because of how much she loved it. This song follows a breakup that stems from Taylor’s partner cheating on her and admitting so to her face.

Lyric Pullouts–

“Since you admitted it, I keep picturing 

Her lips on your neck, I can’t unsee it 

I hate that because of you, I can’t love you, babe” (Bridge)

It is one thing to get cheated on, but to have your significant other tell you about their infidelity is an even worse type of pain. Now that she is burdened with this news, all Taylor can think about is this act that her partner committed. She loves him so much and never would have even thought of ending things between them, but because of what he did, there is no way that she can continue to love him or continue their relationship. The image of this unfaithfulness continues to replay itself in Taylor’s mind and all it does is cause her more and more pain.

Taylor’s Commentary– When Sugarland released their version of “Babe,” Taylor commented, “It’s a song that I wrote with Pat Monahan [from the band, Train] when I was making the Red album. I’m so happy that it gets its own life, I’m so happy that Sugarland wanted to record it, and has done such a good job with it, and I’m so stoked to be able to sing on it, too.” (via Instagram)

4. Message In A Bottle (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault] 

Synopsis– Taylor is admitting, for the first time, her increasing admiration towards a new partner. It’s a fascination that seems scary and frightening, but extremely exciting as well, and she hopes for it to be a love that is true. The track connects thematically to a few of Taylor’s other songs, most specifically “Come Back… Be Here,” which is an original track on Red. Taylor is trying to contact this newfound lover but has to do so in original and unique forms in order to gain their attention.

Lyric Pullouts–

“But now, you’re so far away and I’m down 

Feeling like a face in a crowd” (Pre-Chorus)

By saying that she feels “like a face in a crowd,” Taylor is expressing that she feels common and ordinary, especially in comparison to the person that she is singing to. She feels as though there is nothing particularly special about her and that she is forgettable. She is insinuating that her partner is constantly super busy and on the go and so, she is scared that they’re going to forget about her because of all that they have going on. She is going to extraordinary lengths (her message in a bottle) to ensure that she won’t be forgotten by all of the people that her partner comes across in their day-to-day lives.

“A message in a bottle is all I can do 

Standing here, hoping it gets to you” (Chorus)

A “message in a bottle” is what castaways used as a means of communication in search of rescue. Taylor uses the metaphor of this “message in a bottle” to express to the person she’s trying to get to, who seems to be very far from her and maybe too busy to acknowledge anything usual, that she’s ready to commit to their relationship, but she has to do something big to express that to them. The song in and of itself also seems to serve as the literal “message in a bottle” to let her partner know how she feels. She’s throwing her thoughts and feelings out there, but she has no clue if it’ll ever even reach the person.

5. I Bet You Think About Me (feat. Chris Stapleton) (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]

Synopsis– This song was written about Taylor’s ex who had been unable to move on from their relationship, it follows her confronting him about it because she was able to get past it. Within the track, Taylor expresses multiple reasons why things between them didn’t work out, including different upbringings and social scenes, as well as their vastly opposite backgrounds. Taylor sings this in a very sarcastic tone while blaming her ex for breaking up with her only due to superficial reasons. In the music video that she directed for the song, it depicts her ex on his wedding day still thinking about Taylor (if unable to guess by the title). In the video, Taylor is dressed in a huge glamorous red dress and the more that her ex thinks about her on what is supposed to be a beautiful day for him and his fiancée, his suit also turns red.

Lyric Pullouts–

“You grew up in a silver-spoon gated community 

Glamorous, shiny, bright Beverly Hills 

I was raised on a farm, no it wasn’t a mansion 

Just living room dancing and kitchen table bills” (Verse 3)

Taylor reflects on the difference in upbringing between her and her ex. They were raised differently and come from different backgrounds, which inevitably led to the countless differences in their relationship. While Taylor did grow up well off, it was nothing like her ex, Jake Gyllenhaal, who was born into nepotism and got practically whatever he wanted from his family. Although they’re in quite similar industries and crowds now, their opposite life experiences growing up contributed, on top of a plethora of other factors, to their unavoidable breakup.

“I bet you think about me, when you say 

‘Oh my god, she’s insane, she wrote a song about me’ 

I bet you think about me” (Outro)

If anyone knows anything about Taylor, it’s that before she is a singer, she’s a songwriter. No matter the situation, you can expect there to be a song written about it. She expresses herself and her emotions through her writing. Her ex saying that she’s insane for writing a song about her almost completely erases her identity. She’s not insane for writing a song about her, he’s insane for treating her the way that she did. This line also seems to encompass the fact that he’s using the songs that she writes about him to gain attention by dissing her and them.

Taylor’s Commentary– Taylor actively defends herself from the sexism she faces from men in the industry. She says “You’re going to have people who are going to say, ‘Oh, she just writes songs about her ex-boyfriends,’ and I think, frankly, that’s a very sexist angle to take. No one says [that they are a “serial dater”] about Ed Sheeran. No one says it about Bruno Mars. They’re all writing about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life, and no one raises a red flag there.” Yes, Taylor writes songs about her exes and her boyfriends, but that is not at all the only thing she writes about. Regardless, even if it was, these types of songs make up over half of the music industry, so why is it such a problem when she does? (via Australian Radio)

6. Forever Winter (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault] 

Synopsis– This song encapsulates the feelings that Taylor has towards a friend of hers who is struggling with mental illness and substance abuse issues, and also who Taylor believes could turn to destructive actions. She pleads heavily for this person to let her in and allow her to be a source of light in their life, but all to no avail. There are many rumors speculating who the song could be about, the most likely one being that it is about an old high school friend of hers who was struggling with these problems. This friend, Jeff Lang, unfortunately, passed away just 2 weeks after Taylor released Speak Now, her third studio album (the predecessor to the original Red), and the day following his funeral, Taylor attended the BMI awards and dedicated the award that she won to him.

Lyric Pullouts–

“He seems fine, most of the time, forcing smiles and never minds 

His laugh is a symphony, when the lights go out, it’s hard to breathe 

I pull at every thread trying to solve the puzzles in his head 

Live my life scared to death he’ll decide to leave instead” (Verse 2)

Taylor spends an immense amount of time trying to figure out what she can do to make her friend feel better. She’s facing so much anxiety regarding what could possibly happen to her friend and she wants to do everything she can to help them in any way possible. To her, everything about her friend is beautiful, from their smiles to their laughter, and she can’t quite figure out what is going on in his head and why. A lot of the time, people who are struggling with these issues don’t appear to be. They put on a facade to the public so that people think they’re okay because they don’t want to seem like a burden to their loved ones, this exact situation is what makes Taylor question what is going on because everything seems fine on the surface.

“I’d fall to pieces on the ground 

If you weren’t around 

Too young to know it gets better 

I’ll be summer sun for you forever 

Forever winter if you go” (Chorus)

No matter what, Taylor will always hold a deep love for this person and wants to reassure them that she’ll always be there for them. She is trying to express, through these few lines and the entire song, that she wants to be a bright and positive force in this person’s life, someone that they can go to when they need someone else. She wants them to know that she’d be distraught without them, unaware of what to do, and in constant pain. She uses the term “summer sun” to describe herself as something warm and welcoming for this person while juxtaposing “forever winter” to explain that it will be dark and cold for her if this person is gone. She feels as though the two of them are too young and haven’t lived enough life to find out that it goes on and gets better and that one just has to stick around to achieve that.

7. Run (feat. Ed Sheeran) (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault] 

Synopsis– This track marks Taylor’s 3rd collaboration with Ed Sheeran, and her second on Red (Taylor’s Version) alone. Sheeran has commented, saying that this track was the favorite of him and Taylor over their other Red collaboration, “Everything Has Changed,” and the only reason that it wasn’t put on the original album was because the latter just had a bit more and better production. This song follows the innocence of young love and how kind it can be.

Lyric Pullouts–

“Darling, let’s run 

Run from it all 

We can go where our eyes can take us 

Go where no one else is, run” (Chorus)

This entire song is very simple, featuring short (for Taylor) lines, such as these. The simplicity within the lines and lyricism itself just goes to further accompany the simplicity in the story that’s being told and the love that it is being told about. The two just want to be together, spend all the time they can together, away from everyone else, just the two of them solely; and there’s nothing wrong with that outlook. These lines also help to express Taylor’s distaste for the media. She knows that all they do is follow her every footstep and she wouldn’t be too upset if she and her partner were able to keep their love just to themselves.

8. The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault] 

Synopsis– This song, which is one of the very rare and occasional tracks to open with its chorus instead of a verse, depicts the carefreeness and naïvety of falling in love with someone. Taylor recaps the events that made her fall in love with this person in the first place, despite their unfortunate breakup. It’s unclear whether the person she’s singing about is someone that she was dating or just a fling, but either way, Taylor clearly enjoyed the time spent with them and wishes she could return to it.

Lyric Pullouts–

“Not trying to fall in love 

But we did like children running 

Back then, we didn’t know 

We were built to fall apart” (Verse 2)

The simile of “like children running” shows that their relationship was very sweet, innocent, and simple. They weren’t planning on any of what happened between them, but what did was something very easygoing. These lines show the childlike eagerness that the two had to rush into this relationship, which led to their inevitable “falling apart.” Looking back on their time together, Taylor realizes that it was obvious they were never going to stay together, but it’s okay because the time they had was perfect for what it was.

9. All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault] 

Synopsis– On Taylor’s original recording of Red, this song clocks in at 5 minutes and 28 seconds, just as it does on the standard version of the song on Red (Taylor’s Version). But back when the album first dropped, she had revealed that she had written the song to be 10 minutes long prior to cutting it down for the album. For almost 10 years, after she mentioned in an interview that the song started off being 10 minutes long, fans begged for this 10 minute version and speculated the differences that there could be compared to the 5 minute version. When she announced the vault tracklist for Red (Taylor’s Version), fans were overjoyed to learn that the 10 minute version would be included and that it’d close off the album.

Lyric Pullouts–

“And there we are again when nobody had to know 

You kept me like a secret but I kept you like an oath” (Chorus 2)

By keeping him as an oath, Taylor is keeping her lover as a sacred promise, something that she loved so deeply and wanted to remain close to her heart. On the other hand, her partner wants to keep her a secret. He doesn’t want their love to be shown, or maybe not even known, he wants for their relationship to be hidden. As far as we know, their relationship was known to the public, but maybe much less than Taylor wanted it to be, and maybe even against Gyllenhaal’s wishes. Either way, it is evident that their relationship never would have worked out because of this and many additional factors.

“And I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes 

‘I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age.'” (Verse 6)

The two had a significant age gap during their time together, Taylor from ages 20 to 21, and Gyllenhaal from ages 29 to 30. The 9 year difference between them was a huge gap, especially for someone just coming out of her teenage years, but is also nothing compared to the age gaps between Gyllenhaal and his more recent partners. Up until dating Taylor, there were no significant age differences between Gyllenhaal and the women he had dated, but with and after Taylor, they became much bigger and more evident. His most recent girlfriend, Jeanne Cadieu, was just 25 when the two started dating, while Gyllenhaal was 40–a 15 year age gap. The first line of the two is an amusing juxtaposition as Taylor has previously mentioned that Gyllenhaal didn’t find her jokes funny because they were apparently “too immature” for him, maybe because she was still practically a child!

Taylor’s Commentary– During an interview for the release of Red (Taylor’s Version), Taylor explains how the song came to be this 10 minute version. She says “…I was really upset and sad, and everybody could tell–it was like really not fun to be around me that day. And so I started playing guitar and just kind of playing the same four chords over and over again, and the band sort of joined in, and I started ab-lidding what I was going through and what I was feeling, and it went on. The song kept building and building and building in intensity, and the song just went on for about, you know, 10 to 15 minutes of us doing this.” (via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)



In my opinion, these are the best vault tracks that Taylor has released from her 4 (Taylor’s Version) albums. She goes between multiple different genres, including generic pop hits, country ballads, and acoustic, folky tracks. No matter which way you string it, these songs are all beautiful in their own way and completely add to Red. Without these tracks, Red (Taylor’s Version) would not be what it is. Not only do they spotlight Taylor’s lyricism, storytelling, and songwriting ability, but they magnify the album as a whole and add to Taylor’s seemingly never-ending discography. As much as I can’t wait for Taylor to own all of her music again, I don’t want the release of vault tracks to end because they are so fulfilling for us fans. And finally–


1. Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)

2. Forever Winter

3. I Bet You Think About Me (feat. Chris Stapleton)

4. Babe

5. Better Man

6. All Too Well (10 Minute Version)

7. Run (feat. Ed Sheeran) 

8. The Very First Night

9. Message In A Bottle





Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Ewing's Voice Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *