Our ‘Taylor’s Version’ Wish List: What We’d Like to Hear on Taylor Swift’s Future Rerecordings
Since releasing Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Taylor Swift has left fans impatiently speculating on which of her rerecorded albums will come next. Her new take on 1989‘s “Wildest Dreams” was featured in the trailer for the upcoming animated film Spirit Untamed, which seemed like a tip-off that a remake of her 2014 synth-pop pivot might be in the queue. But her Red-style hair at the Brit Awards led Twitter Swifties to assume that her 2012 LP might be next in the rotation.
In the meantime, Swift’s update on Fearless offered a taste of what’s to come from future rerecordings: fresh production updates, old and new guests, and previously unreleased songs from the singer-songwriter’s “vault.” Revamps of the remaining five albums from her old contract with Big Machine could hold more surprises, and longtime fans have already compiled their wish lists. Here, we run down our own dream inclusions.
Her pre-2006 Nashville co-writes
Swift spent her earliest teenage years in Nashville relentlessly co-writing after school with a slew of Music Row songwriters. There’s likely a trove of pre-2006 material that no one has ever heard because the songs never made it past the demo stage. (Though “You All Over Me” appeared on the Fearless update, the track’s 2005 copyright date shows that even that song was written before she released 2006’s Taylor Swift.) Swift’s earliest Nashville demos probably aren’t the greatest treasures in her vault, but they would provide a fascinating glimpse into her earliest songwriting years. —B.S.
The unedited original version of “All Too Well”
“All Too Well” co-writer Liz Rose once estimated that the song’s original version was more than 20 minutes long. Given how much of a fan favorite the power ballad is, a quadruple-length version would be the ultimate treat. As the song has gained immense deep-cut popularity among Swifties, the rerecordings could be a fine opportunity for Swift to show off what was left on the cutting-room floor. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Swift even teased that there was some cursing in the original, meaning that the emotional intensity will likely be quadrupled too. —B.S.
A James Taylor-sung “Begin Again”
Swift has always been the kind of artist who celebrates the influences who originally inspired her. In a classic 2011 live clip from her Speak Now era, she teams up with James Taylor onstage to duet on “Fifteen” and “Fire and Rain.” (So much fire. So much rain. So many sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground!) She also reveals that when she told her mom she was a JT fan, her mom replied, “It’s really funny you say that because you’re kind of named after him!” JT’s a huge Swiftie. And “Begin Again” is the song where she spends a first date arguing with the boy about who owns more James Taylor records. So clearly, the Red remake has a mission: Get Sweet Baby James to sing “Begin Again” with Sweet Baby Tay. They could also do “Fire and Rain” — hell, they could collaborate to remake his entire album: Sweet Baby James (Taylor’s Version). The world might never recover. —R.S.
“Tim McGraw” featuring Tim McGraw
Anyone who remembers a teenage Swift performing this song in front of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill at the 2007 ACM awards would kill to see Swift and McGraw take the song one step further and make it a duet, following up Swift’s hypnotic refrain on McGraw’s 2013 single “Highway Don’t Care.” “I don’t know if I should feel honored, or just old,” McGraw once said of Swift’s debut single that paid tribute to him. “It’s cool to have a song written about you, especially by a teenager. I didn’t think any teenagers even knew who I was.” —J.B.
You ok? NO cause I sent my two kids @Olivia_Rodrigo and @conangray my new version of You Belong With Me and THEY ARE SO CUTE IT PHYSICALLY HURTS ME— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) April 8, 2021
((Album out at midnight!)) pic.twitter.com/yDJusP8TAs
Featured vocals from her “two kids,” Olivia Rodrigo and Conan Gray
Wouldn’t it be beautiful to have two of pop’s most vocal Swifties join her on one of the albums that inspired their own music? Olivia Rodrigo and Conan Gray are loud and proud about the impact Swift’s songwriting has had on their own, and Swift has shown that love right back. She even included the young stars in her Fearless (Taylor’s Version) rollout, sharing a video of the two lip-syncing to her rerecordings on TikTok. Rodrigo, especially, seems like a shoo-in for a Red appearance; could Swift gifting the teen star the ring she wore while recording her fourth album be an Easter egg? —B.S.
At long last: the Swift/Dylan summit
It’s an old story: a brash kid with an acoustic guitar comes out of nowhere to stun the world with a fresh new voice, inspiring a whole generation of songwriters, radically changing their sound at the height of their fame, refusing to follow the rules, always trying the unexpected. Are we talking about Bob Dylan or Taylor Swift? Why not … both? That’s right: These two freewheelin’ legends team up for the first time. Dylan’s gruff low-register snarl would sound right at home on Reputation (Taylor’s Version), right? (In Dylan terms, that album was her John Wesley Harding.) Or imagine how great they’d sound duetting on “Mean” or “Boots of Spanish Leather,” which honestly sounds more like a Swift song than a Dylan song anyway. And nobody loves rain songs like Tay, so how about “Buckets of Rain” or “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall?” “Tangled Up in Red,” anyone? —R.S.
Drake on Reputation
In the time between 1989 and Reputation, Swift and Drake’s worlds kept colliding. They were on each other’s Instagrams and appeared in a pair of Apple commercials working out to each other’s songs. Reputation seemed primed for a Drake feature: The album is full of trap-pop references on songs like “End Game” and “…Ready for It?” Alas, we still haven’t heard a collaboration from two of the world’s biggest and most omnipresent pop forces. The most we got was a Drake shoutout on Lover track “I Forgot That You Existed.” It might be too powerful to have these two team up, but the song “End Game” is calling out for a Drake appearance, possibly one that replaces Future and Ed Sheeran’s equally out-of-place contributions to the otherwise-fun track. —B.S.
A “Shake It Off” sequel with Robyn
Taylor’s 2014 smash “Shake It Off” has a clever shout-out to Robyn, the song’s obvious inspiration, when she sings, “I’m dancing on my own!” So picture this: Robyn beams in from Sweden to join the party. She could sing a few lines of “Dancing on My Own” in the breakdown, over that sick beat. She could also expand on “Call Your Girlfriend,” arguably Robyn’s most Swiftian song. —R.S.
Studio versions of the Speak Now covers
One of the highlights of Swift’s Speak Now tour was the plethora of unique cover songs that she included on each night’s set list — many of which were, ahem, tailor-made for the cities she was performing in. Swift tore through Springsteen and Bon Jovi in New Jersey, paid homage to Pink and TLC in Philadelphia, and even duetted with Justin Bieber on “Baby” in Los Angeles. Three of these covers made it onto the live album Speak Now World Tour Live, and while rerecording that whole LP would be a logistical nightmare, Swift could simply take the opportunity to record studio versions of “Bette Davis Eyes,” “Drops of Jupiter,” and “I Want You Back” as a nod to that tour’s memorable tradition. Like the original covers, the studio versions could exist as unadorned acoustic renditions, and they’d make great bonus tracks for Speak Now (Taylor’s Version). —C.S.
The Lorde intervention
It’s been four years since Lorde blessed fans around the world with her 2017 masterpiece Melodrama. Hey, nobody begrudges Lorde for taking her sweet time to follow her bliss from Antarctica to her long-awaited next album. She’s on a vision quest of her own, and we all respect that. Even if her pal Taylor has dropped five Number One albums since Melodrama came out. But maybe, just maybe, Lorde could get involved in some of the remake sessions, and maybe, just maybe, that would rev her creative engines. Is it time for a Lorde intervention? Maybe Taylor is the only artist who could lure St. Ella of Antarctica back into a studio? Or maybe Taylor could just toss a Lorde album into her queue of remakes: Melodrama (TayLorde’s Version). —R.S.
Taylor-sung versions of “Babe” and “Better Man”
One of the great ironies of Swift’s much-publicized jump from country to pop is that during the first few years of her tenure as a blockbuster pop star, Swift slyly wrote some of the best country hits of her career. In recent years, she has sporadically performed stripped-down versions of two of these, Little Big Town’s “Better Man” and Sugarland’s “Babe”; any look back at her 2010s would be served well by studio versions of such Nashville gems from Swift herself. —J.B.
The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection, Part 2: Revenge of the Christmas Tree Farm
There’s one Swift record that nobody really wants to remember: her quickie six-song Christmas EP from 2008. It had her great version of George Michael’s “Last Christmas,” her great original “Christmases When You Were Mine,” but also some not-so-great moments, including the most dubious “Santa Baby” ever recorded. Even when it’s working, you can hear what a rush job it was. But Taylor could redo it as the classic holiday album she’s always had in her, starting with “Christmas Tree Farm.” Don’t we deserve her version of “Sleigh Ride”? “Deck the Halls”? “Good King Wenceslas”? A Lizzo duet on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”? (This version would definitely include the words “queen of consent.”) She could remake the Jonas Brothers’ “I Need You Christmas,” with Sophie Turner singing along. This could top Phil Spector for the crown of the greatest Christmas album of all time. Oh, come let us adore her. —R.S.
More collaborations with past tourmates and special guests
Swift’s collaborations with Keith Urban on Fearless (Taylor’s Version) have opened the doors up to all sorts of possible team-ups with her past tourmates. It’s a strong bet that Haim, openers for Swift on the 1989 tour and featured guests on Evermore, will make a showing on one of the reimagined albums. But what about Charli XCX or Shawn Mendes? What about other openers or headliners from Swift’s country era, like George Strait or Brett Eldredge? And if you open the speculation up to all the special guests who have joined Swift onstage, the field gets even more crowded: Hayley Williams, Flo Rida, Jimmy Eat World, Usher, James Taylor, Tegan and Sara, Sam Smith, Lorde, Fetty Wap, Ciara, the Chicks, St. Vincent, Miranda Lambert … the list goes on. —C.S.
“Blank Space (Taylor and Nelly’s Version)”
In the expanded edition of 1989, you can hear a voice-note demo of “Blank Space” where Taylor stresses the “aaay aaay” hook, and jokes about how it sounds like an early-2000s Nelly song. Great excuse for a duet, right? Taylor and Nelly go way back. At a 2016 party, he invited her onstage to do “Dilemma,” with Taylor singing the Kelly Rowland part. Before that, when the Red tour hit St. Louis, they did “Hey Porsche.” And best of all, on the 1989 tour, Taylor, Nelly, and Haim all teamed up for the world’s greatest version of “Hot in Herrre,” with Taylor and Haim busting out their dance routines and chanting, “I am getting so hot, I wanna take my clothes off!” Taylor called it “the highlight of our friendship thus far,” though they weren’t into hiding dead bodies together yet. So maybe the new 1989 could include a full-on Nelly “Blank Space” duet, to give the song just a little bit of uh uh and a sprinkle of that uh uh. —R.S.