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If you're inclined to skip the deluxe edition of Taylor Swift's Red because you figure the bonus tracks must have landed on the cutting-room floor for a good reason, you may want to reconsider that assumption. The three extra studio tracks on the Target version's second disc are as red-hot-and-rouge as anything on the principal recording.
"The bonus tracks on that Target edition are songs that I'm really excited about," Swift told Yahoo! Music when we sat down with her in Nashville shortly before the album's release. Here's what she shared with us about the extras:
* "The Moment I Knew" "was a song about my 21st birthday party, which was the worst experience ever," she tells Yahoo! Music. It's certainly the flip side of "22," a celebratory birthday song that appears on the main disc. In this dourest of coming-of-legal-age anthems, she sings of waiting for a significant other to show up at her shindig—and when it's clear he won't be joining the celebrants, that's "the moment (she) knew" it was over.
You don't even have to be that diehard a gossip hound to know exactly which boyfriend it was who didn't show up on the evening of Dec. 13, 2010. But as you can tell from these lyrics, if there was any alcohol being imbibed on her 21st, it wasn't done in the form of toasts.
And it was like slow motion
Standing there in my party dress
In red lipstick
With no one to impress...
What do you say
When tears are streaming down your face
In front of everyone you know?
And what do you do when the one
Who means the most to you
Is the one who didn't show?
It seems odd that Swift didn't include a song this powerful and direct on the main disc. Perhaps she felt that, if she did, it would too easily become the song everyone immediately talked about, the way they did "Dear John" when Speak Now first hit stores two years ago. But "The Moment I Knew" is one of her most bracingly honest confessionals ever—hiding in plain sight, as it were, among the bonus tracks.
* "There's a song I wrote with Dan Wilson called 'Come Back... Be Here,' which I wrote about falling for someone and then they have to go away for work," she tells Yahoo!" They're traveling, you're traveling, and you're thinking about them, but you're wondering how it's gonna work when there's so much distance between you."
In this one, she's in New York, and he—whoever he is—has gone off to London. What's worse is, the fellow in question only reveals that he's about to take flight about 48 hours into their relationship. Talk about infatuation-us interrupts.
You said it in a simple way
4 a.m., the second day
How strange that I don't know you at all
Stumbled through the long goodbye
One last kiss, then catch your flight
Right when I was just about to fall...
This is falling in love in the cruelest way
This is falling for you and you are worlds away
* "And there's a song called 'Girl at Home,' which was about a guy who had a girlfriend," she tells Yahoo!, "and I just felt like it was disgusting that he was flirting with other girls."
Those kinds of details point in... one direction. The good news for listeners is that, after two pretty severely sad songs, this one isn't nearly so downcast, the cheating subject matter notwithstanding. It could be that she's just wild about—or just ticked at—Harry, but the tone here is more triumphant, as the singer quickly realizes that triangles are best left to the percussion department and puts a quick end to the potential turmoil.
And it would be a fine proposition
If I was a stupid girl
But honey, I am no one's exception
This I have previously learned
The "everybody knows that" chorus would have made "Girl at Home" one of the main record's catchiest singsongs, had she bumped it up to the majors from this secondary disc.
* The deluxe edition's bonus CD has three more tracks besides, all alternate versions of tunes that appear on the principal album. A "demo version" of "Red" is the least revelatory, since it's not that far removed from the end track, although it's fun to track the minor arrangement differences. More riveting is an acoustic demo she recorded with Dan Wilson of the "Treacherous," which is one of Red's best and most powerful songs in any rendition. The minimalism actually makes the tune's "slope" toward falling for the right/wrong guy sound all the more dangerously slippery.
But Swift sounds particularly proud of her "alternate version of 'State of Grace,' which is one of my favorite songs on the album." This one wasn't a demo, but a careful afterthought. "When I wanted to do an alternate version of it for the Target bonus tracks, Nathan (Chapman) and I went back into the studio and we did just a completely acoustic version of it. It's really sweet and slowed down and it completely changes the song." She resisted adding an obvious subtitle like "(Altered State)," but a fan just might be put in one, thanks to a transformative remake that strips away the anthemic quality and turns the tune back to its most deeply personal point of origin.
Have you heard the Red bonus tracks? Which is your favorite?