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The rerecorded version of Taylor Swift’s “Red” is finally out — and that means it’s time for some Serious Swiftie Sleuthing™.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” — the artist’s fifth album of the pandemic — was released at midnight Friday. It includes seven never-before-heard tracks that the 11-time Grammy winner wrote for — but didn’t include on — the 2012 album, which fans have long-speculated to be about Swift’s short-lived romance with actor Jake Gyllenhaal.

In addition to the original 20 tracks and the seven brand new songs, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” also includes three other rerecorded tunes “From the Vault”: the 2012 charity single, “Ronan,” “Better Man,” originally recorded by Little Big Town, and “Babe,” originally recorded by Sugarland.


The 31-year-old is famous for leaving cryptic hints for fans to dissect, a tendency she said had gotten “out of control” while on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” Thursday night.

“But, if you want to go down the rabbit hole with us, come along, the water’s great,” she added.

So we decided to go down the rabbit hole, combing through the seven “From the Vault” tracks, and speculating what — and, ahem, whom — they might be about.


Favorite lyric: “Lord what will become of me/ Once I’ve lost my novelty?”

This ballad, a collaboration with indie singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, appears to be Swift’s confrontation with what she fears is her own dimming star power, similar to the track “The Lucky One.” Having achieved unprecedented fame at such a young age, she wonders, “How can a person know everything at 18/ and nothing at 22?” The song is a hangover from the carefree joy in the boppy “22.”

She also worries that the charm of her flaws have an expiration date (“Will you still want me when I’m nothing new?”). Though most of the album is about a breakup, it seems that the “you,” in this case, is the audience who Swift fears will someday cast her out of its favor.



Favorite lyric: “Time moves faster, replaying your laughter/ Disaster.”

This techno pop song is a reminiscence on Swift’s early infatuation — and the first signs that her budding relationship might not be the healthiest. She is completely at his mercy, whether she’s around him or not (”I became hypnotized by freckles and bright eyes, tongue-tied,” she sings). She feels powerless in the relationship, which she admits is on his terms (”Message in a bottle is all I can do/ Standin’ here, hopin’ it gets to you.”)

She also asks her lover, “How is it in London?” a link to the track “Come Back Be Here” (”I guess you’re in London today/ And I don’t wanna need you this way.”) And, yes, in case you were wondering, Gyllenhaal has been known to spend time in London.


Favorite lyric: “But now that we’re done and it’s over/ I bet you couldn’t believe/ When you realized I’m harder to forget than I was to leave.”

This may be the most twangy tune on the whole album, especially with the added vocals of bluegrass singer Chris Stapleton. There is a pointed anger in this song — Swift accuses her ex-paramour of growing up in a Beverly Hills “silver spoon gated community” (yes, Gyllenhaal grew up in Los Angeles), and “scared not to be hip, scared to get old.”


Her sarcastic jab at his “cool indie music concerts” has an incisiveness also seen on “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (”You’ll hide away and find your peace of mind/ With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine.”) It’s a glimpse into the couple’s rifts, which seem to double as some of Swift’s strongest insecurities, like his dismissal of her sense of humor (”You laughed at my dreams, rolled your eyes at my jokes”). But as a consolation, like on “All Too Well” (”You lost the one real thing you’ve ever known”), she is confident that he will someday also regret their split.


Favorite lyric: “Too young to know it gets better/ I’ll be summer sun for you forever.”

This sax-heavy song shows Swift discovering her lover’s internal turmoil (”All this time I didn’t know/ You were breaking down”). It’s a poignant look at what it is like to love somebody who is suffering, with Swift longing to “take that bomb in your head and disarm it.” Much like an observation, Swift makes in “Red” (”Fighting with him was like trying to solve a crossword and realizing there’s no right answer”), she reveals her attempts to “pull at every thread trying to solve the puzzles in his head.”


And yet, his sleepless nights and his being “wasted” at 5 a.m. don’t stop her from promising to stay with him, believing that she will be “forever winter” if he leaves her.


Favorite lyric: “No one to be, no one to tell.”

This acoustics-laden song, a duet with longtime collaborator Ed Sheeran, shows Swift asking her partner to escape town with her (”We can go where our eyes can take us/ Go where no one else is”).

It flips the script from her grief-stricken song “Sad Beautiful Tragic” (”Your face in a locket”) to “And the note from the locket/ You keep it in your pocket/ Since I gave it to you,” suggesting he may be memorializing the relationship as it’s happening, while she is still holding out hope for its success if he can fully commit. This faith in the strength of their connection (”Pale blue sky reflected in your eyes”) also links itself to the hopeful track “State of Grace” (”Four blue eyes”). You probably could have guessed this, but Gyllenhaal does, in fact, have blue eyes.


Favorite lyric: “Not trying to fall in love/ But we did like children running.”

This bouncy pop tune encapsulates Swift’s wish to “go back in time” and return to the magic of the beginning of her relationship. She is haunted by flashes of images: “The night in the hotel,” “the car when we both fell,” and “the note on the Polaroid picture.”


She longs to reclaim the innocence of their first night together, with the same agonizing memories (”Danced in the kitchen, chased me down through the hallway”) as ruminated on in “All Too Well” (”We’re dancing ‘round the kitchen in the refrigerator light”). But even as she dwells on the past, Swift knows the love affair has no place in the present (“Back then we didn’t know we were built to fall apart/ We broke the status quo, then we broke each other’s hearts.”)


Favorite lyric: “You kept me like a secret/ But I kept you like an oath.”

A fan favorite from the original album, Swift allows the 10-minute version of this soulful ballad (with some pop flair from producer Jack Antonoff) to become a raw work of stream of consciousness.

She references the age difference between her and her ex (”You said if we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine/ and that made me want to die” and “I’ll get older but your lovers stay my age”) (Gyllenhaal is nine years older than Swift). She expounds upon the on-and-off again nature of the relationship referenced in “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” but openly mourns it (”You never called it what it was/ Till we were dead and gone and buried.”)

Perhaps the most gut-wrenching line in the song is when she recalls how, after she was devastated her partner didn’t come to her birthday party (described in “The Moment I Knew,” as when she decided to end things), her dad reminds her that “It’s supposed to be fun, turning 21.” The song centers on the pain of remembering, but the 10-minute version removes the rose-colored glasses from this recollection. She balances the memories of joy with the memories of betrayal.

Dana Gerber can be reached at dana.gerber@globe.com