Taylor Swift's Red album taught me everything I know about love and heartbreak

Saturday 13 November 2021

I was fourteen when I heard the first song from the album Red. It was the summer of 2012 and I was turning fifteen. I can remember going shopping on my birthday with my mum, we were in Bournemouth in an apparel store when the song I'd been singing repeatedly for over a month came on, on my birthday – We Are Never Getting Back Together. 

Red came out when I was fifteen. My mum got me the deluxe CD for Christmas and the obsession with the ultimate autumnal heartbreak album begun. Taylor was already a massive part of my life, with Love Story being my favourite song up until the moment I heard this masterpiece of an album. 

I can remember loading the album onto my iPod touch and listening to it over and over, and over and over again. I couldn't and wouldn't stop. Every song, every lyric, every single second of Red was intoxicating – and I was full emotion more than I had ever been before. 

At fifteen I hadn't had my first kiss, I'd never had a boyfriend, and I'd never been in love. I knew I was a bit of a hopeless romantic already because my crushes were always strong and heavy, and I wrote songs and poems about the boys that I thought had my heart. Listening to Red taught me about love and heartbreak, and everything minuscule thing in between. Each song resonated for a reason I can't fathom, yet it stayed with me for years and years.

Every single lyric made me feel something I'd never felt before – a sadness, a yearning to understand heartbreak, a longing to be loved, a need to feel a love that was burning red. I'd never known love or heartbreak, but the songs that Taylor was singing in my ear were making me feel every emotion I'd never known. I knew a wealth of knowledge about something I knew nothing about, all through the power of Taylor's songwriting. It's true that Taylor and her album Red taught me everything I know about love and heartbreak, and it's also the reason I'm a hopeless romantic at heart too.

If you've listened to any of the tracks from Red, you'll know how rich, descriptive and full of emotive illustrations they are. Red made me notice the beautiful details in the world a bit more – the autumn leaves falling, the coldness as you walk through the door, the small details about the person you're falling for, the wind in your hair while you're crossing the road, your pace as you're walking through the traffic lights, and the way the Christmas lights glisten.

Each time I listened to Sad Beautiful Tragic, Begin Again or All Too Well, I imagined what it would be like to fall in love and to then experience the ultimate heartbreak. I wanted it. I still do. Although I haven't experienced it first hand, every song on the album Red means something to me, even though I can't directly relate to the love and heartbreak that many people can. But each song on the album reminds me of times in my life when I had deep crushes that were heartbreakingly painful, but heartachingly poetic all at once. Beautiful and full of pain – my crushes were never shallow, instead they lasted and lasted, causing pain and chaos constantly – but thanks to Red, I experienced love and heartbreak without actually experiencing it properly. Over the years, I have channeled the pain of unrequited love, my back catalogue of failed crushes, and the boys I wanted to confess my love to into All Too Well. 

At twenty-four, nine years on, I'm still exactly the same girl – I still haven't had my first kiss, or a boyfriend, and other than unrequited love, I've never been in love or been loved. But Red (Taylor's Version) and the entire Red era resonates more than ever. 

With Red (Taylor's Version) and the All Too Well 10 minute version AND short film being released on November 12, I've been thrown into an emotional state of wanting heartbreak once again. I'm making scenarios up in mind, wishing my crushes from six years ago would confess their love to me, wondering what it would be like to know a love so deeply that you don't believe the other person is real, wondering if you just made them up. I want to fall in love more than ever thanks to Taylor, and I want to experience a love that's burning red – but I'm not sure this will ever happen. 

Maybe one day I'll get to experience a love that's burning red, or maybe I'll only ever experience a love that's golden – either way, experiencing love for real would be a truly magical thing and I hope one day I get that. And if I do, and if heartbreak follows, I'll be able to live out Red (Mollie's Version) in full force and theatrics. But if a golden love comes my way, or maybe if I never find love – at least I've got past crushes, almosts and a few exaggerated scenarios in my mind while I sing along to All Too Well. 

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