Taylor Swift Explains The Painful Backstory Of All Too Well's Original Version

When Taylor Swift released the track "All Too Well" in her album "Red," she did not anticipate that it would eventually be a crowd favorite. Though she initially thought that it would only be one of those B tracks that people would listen to occasionally, it instead became as popular as the album's singles — or perhaps even more. Some fans would even claim that it's the best Taylor Swift song ever written.

"I never imagined that would happen because it wasn't a single, and it didn't have a video, all these kinds of ways that I was taught music permeated culture. I didn't see that happening with that song," Swift said in an episode of Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums" podcast. "It just really was amazing to watch and I truly can't believe it now when I play it live and like everybody in the crowd knows every word."

Swift also thought the song might have some off-putting features. "I thought it was too dark, too sad, too intense, just too many things," she shared. Of course, that darkness is something that people actually related to, perhaps more than anything else. 

Taylor Swift was going through a difficult time when she wrote All Too Well

"All Too Well" is first and foremost a breakup song. Taylor Swift wrote it when she was feeling the most vulnerable, which is why it ended up being originally 10 minutes long. The original release was cut down to five minutes and 29 seconds, but in "Red (Taylor's Version)" album, the singer treated fans to the full version. In a November appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," she reflected on how that original 10-minute version came to be. 

"I think I was 21 when I wrote this and I was in band rehearsals for a tour... I just was really upset and sad and everybody could tell," she said. "I started playing guitar... I started ad-libbing what I was going through and what I was feeling. The song kept building and building in intensity and the song went on for about 10 to 15 minutes." She added that the sound guy managed to record all of it and handed a CD to her mom."The 10-minute version of 'All Too Well' is what was originally written for the song before I had to cut it down to a normal length song," Swift continued. "And that's the thing I'm most excited about 'cause it's the original lyrics." 

So there you have it! The track may have stemmed from isolating heartbreak (perhaps about Jake Gyllenhaal), but now it's connecting fans everywhere in its full 10-minute glory.