The Agelessness of “Fearless”

Tony Madden

I was freshly nine years old when I first heard “Love Story” by Taylor Swift. I was at a family friend’s farm, and I had just climbed onto a horse named Legs for a ride around the property. The banjo riff that would define a generation of young country music listeners echoed from a small stereo in the corner.

“We were both young when I first saw you,” I heard her sing. 

The music of Taylor Swift would define a lot of moments for me in the following years. “Mean” was on repeat when I was 11. “I Knew You Were Trouble” blared from my mom’s SUV speakers when I was 13. I shook it off to “Shake It Off” all through my high school years, and I cried to “cardigan” in my darkest days of the pandemic.

I’ve always admired the ability that music possesses to define the moments in our lives. When I caught wind of Swift’s intention to re-record her back catalog after her departure with Big Machine Records, I knew I was in for a blast from – and back to – the past. First to come of these re-recordings was none other than “Fearless,” an album that so seamlessly defined my childhood and that of so many others. 

“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” is a record of its own accord. Where the vocals of a teenager fresh on the country music scene once resided, the polished trills of a master of inter-genre musical experimentation now flourish. 

The lyrics to deep-cut tracks such as “Fifteen” and “Forever & Always” remain the same, but they pay homage to the record on which Swift built her career. Taylor’s Version nods to the children who danced around their rooms clad in PJ’s before bedtime to these songs all those years ago. 

All I can say is thank you to Taylor Swift. Thank you for giving us the anthems to grow up with, and for growing up with us.