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Begin Again

Single | RED (2012) | RED (Taylor's Version) [2021]

“Begin Again” is the album closer on the standard edition of Taylor’s fourth studio album, RED (2012). It is a country ballad, with the lyrical content finding Taylor falling in love again after a failed relationship. The re-recording of the song, “Begin Again (Taylor’s Version)”, was released on November 12, 2021 on the album RED (Taylor’s Version).

Background and Composition

In “Begin Again”, Taylor expresses her hope for a budding relationship while reflecting on previous romantic mistakes. It ends the album on an optimistic note, serving as a departure from the themes of heartbreak on songs like “All Too Well” and “The Last Time.” Taylor told Good Morning America in 2012:

«It’s a song about when you’ve gotten through a really bad relationship and you finally dust yourself off and go on that first date after a horrible break up. And the vulnerability that goes along with all of that. Even after a relationship explodes into a million pieces, and burns down, and you’re standing in a pile of the ash of what it once was, thinking, ‘Why did I have to meet this person? Why did this have to happen?’ But then, when you make eye contact with someone across the room and it clicks and, bam, you’re there. In love again.»

Taylor Swift
Taylor previewed “Begin Again” on Good Morning America on September 24, 2012, and released the song digitally on iTunes the next day, September 25. It initially served as a promotional single, the first of four tracks to be released during the four weeks preceding the release of RED. It was later announced that the song would be the second single from the album.

Music Video

The song’s accompanying music video was shot in Paris, France, and was directed by Philip Andelman, who also directed the music video for Taylor’s song “Safe & Sound“. Taylor released the music video for the song on October 23rd, 2012, the day after the release of RED. In the video, Taylor meets a new man in a Parisian café and the two roam the city together.

Live Performances

Taylor first performed “Begin Again” during her promotional run for the RED album, including her concert for VH1 Storytellers on October 15, 2012, and the CMA Awards that following November. She also added “Begin Again” to the regular setlist of “The RED Tour” (2013-2014). She didn’t perform the song again until her “reputation Stadium Tour” show in Minneapolis on August 31, 2018.

Critical Reception

“Begin Again” received universal acclaim from music critics, many of whom praised Taylor’s songwriting. Writing for Taste of Country, Billy Dukes gave the song a four star rating out of five, describing it as “a cleansing breath that hopefully foreshadows the true tone of her album”. Grady Smith of Entertainment Weekly wrote the song is “a well-crafted love story” and noted Taylor’s talent “at taking a single moment in time and letting it unfold like a pop-up storybook.” Jessica Sager of Popcrush gave the song 4 out of 5 stars, saying that “Swift paints a vivid picture of a first date following a rough breakup in ‘Begin Again’ — and she sounds like a young woman…She’s not settling, whether in her love life or her studio sessions. And for that, Taylor Swift, we salute you.”

Commercial Performance

In the week ending September 30, 2012, just a few hours after an early release, “Begin Again” shot to No. 1 on iTunes. It was the first single to dethrone “Gangnam Style” and also surpassed Rihanna’s “Diamonds”. The song debuted at No. 1 on Billboard Hot Digital Songs selling 299,000 digital copies in the week ending September 30, 2012, which became Taylor’s fifth No. 1 on that chart. As a result, “Begin Again” debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated October 4, 2012. The song charted for a total of twenty weeks. “Begin Again” has been certified Platinum by RIAA.

Accolades

“Begin Again” received several award nominations, including for three American Country Awards and a Grammy for “Best Country Song”. It won two BMI Awards: “Publisher of the Year” and “Country Awards Top 50 Songs”.

Taylor's Version

A re-recorded version of “Begin Again”, titled “Begin Again (Taylor’s Version)”, was released as part of Taylor’s re-recording album RED (Taylor’s Version), on November 12, 2021, through Republic Records.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
Took a deep breath in the mirror
He didn’t like it when I wore high heels
But I do
Turn the lock and put my headphones on
He always said he didn’t get this song
But I do, I do

[Verse 2]
Walked in expecting you’d be late
But you got here early and you stand and wave
I walk to you
You pull my chair out and help me in
And you don’t know how nice that is
But I do

[Chorus]
And you throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny ’cause he never did
I’ve been spending the last eight months
Thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a café, I watched it begin again

[Verse 3]
You said you never met one girl
Who had as many James Taylor records as you
But I do
We tell stories and you don’t know why
I’m coming off a little shy
But I do

[Chorus]
But you throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny ’cause he never did
I’ve been spending the last eight months
Thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a café, I watched it begin again

[Bridge]
And we walked down the block to my car and I almost brought him up
But you start to talk about the movies that your family watches
Every single Christmas and I want to talk about that
And for the first time what’s past is past

[Chorus]
‘Cause you throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny ’cause he never did
I’ve been spending the last eight months
Thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a café, I watched it begin again

[Outro]
But on a Wednesday in a café
I watched it begin again

General Information
AlbumsRED
RED (Taylor’s Version)
ReleasedOctober 1, 2012
Re-ReleasedNovember 12, 2021
StudioBlackbird (Nashville)
GenreCountry
Length3:58
LabelsBig Machine Records
Republic Records
SongwriterTaylor Swift
ProducersNathan Chapman (original)
Dan Huff (original)
Christopher Rowe
Taylor Swift
RED CHRONOLOGY
StarlightBegin AgainThe Moment I Knew
Single Certification
Hidden Message
I wear heels now
Single Artwork
Music Video
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Taylor's Version
Original Audio
Making of the Video