Taylor Swift has made a pretty incredible career out of bad relationships. Her habits of using her bad breakups as material for her bestselling albums is something everyone laughs about…well, everyone but her exes.
Seriously, who hasn’t Swift dated at this point? She’s gone pop with that kid from One Direction, had a WASP-y romance with American royalty Conor Kennedy, and of course she dated one of the cutest Jews around, Jake Gyllenhaal.
In fact, Gyllenhaal is thought to be the inspiration for Swift’s fourth studio album, 2012’s “Red,” which featured songs like “I Knew You Were Trouble When You Walked In” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
In a new interview with New York Magazine, Swift reveals that she’s gotten feedback about her music from some of her exes, including the man who inspired “Red,” aka possibly/probably Jake Gyllenhaal:
You could call Swift a generational bard: She merges the pleasures of old-fashioned songcraft with millennial social-media oversharing. There’s no doubting the artfulness of Swift’s best status updates. Red’s centerpiece is “All Too Well,” co-written with songwriter Liz Rose, a frequent collaborator. If the Internet is to be believed, “All Too Well” is about Jake Gyllenhaal, whose romance with Swift convulsed the tabloids in late 2010. It’s a ballad that rises, like a slow-cresting wave, over a bass line similar to the one in U2’s “With or Without You.”
There are the usual recriminations, which arrive in tight, crackling couplets: “You call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest.” But “All Too Well” is also a montage of fond memories, vividly drawn: The song catches a couple “singing in the car, getting lost upstate” and dancing around the kitchen “in the refrigerator light.” Here is Swift, watching her boyfriend react as she pages through childhood photographs at his mother’s house: “Photo album on the counter, your cheeks were turning red / You used to be a little kid with glasses in a twin-size bed.” It takes a special songwriter to craft a sneering kiss-off that’s also tender valediction.
“I heard from the guy that most of Red is about,” Swift said. “He was like, ‘I just listened to the album, and that was a really bittersweet experience for me. It was like going through a photo album.’ That was nice. Nicer than, like, the ranting, crazy emails I got from this one dude. It’s a lot more mature way of looking at a love that was wonderful until it was terrible, and both people got hurt from it—but one of those people happened to be a songwriter.” She rolled her eyes. “So what are you going to do? Did you not Wikipedia me before you called me up?”
If Jake Gyllenhaal was actually the inspiration for “All Too Well,” the fact that he handled it with such grace just makes him even sexier. The burning question that still needs to be answered is: who is the ex that sent the “ranting, crazy emails”? Our money is on One Direction.
J-Connection: Jake Gyllenhaal is Jewish.