The Song Taylor Swift May Have Regretted—and How She Rewrote It 13 Years Later

Taylor Swift seems to have effortlessly chronicled past romantic relationships throughout her catalog of songs. Exes Taylor Lautner (“Back to December”), Harry Styles (“I Knew You Were Trouble”), and John Mayer (“Dear John”), along with several Red tracks linked to Jake Gyllenhaal, through the numerous presumed references to Matt Healy, her ex-boyfriend of six years Joe Alwyn, and new love Travis Kelce on The Tortured Poets Department, many of Swift’s former suitors—good and bad—have been immortalized in her lyrics.

“If guys don’t want me to write bad songs about them,” Swift once said, “then they shouldn’t do bad things.”

Rehashing past loves and where it all went wrong—or right—is something Swift has never openly regretted. “You’re going to have people who are going to say, ‘Oh, you know, like, she just writes songs about her ex-boyfriends,'” said Swift in 2014. “And I think frankly that’s a very sexist angle to take. No one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars. They’re all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life, and no one raises the red flag there.”

Videos by American Songwriter

[RELATED: The Meaning Behind Taylor Swift’s “thanK you alMee” and “Cassandra” and Why Fans Believe Both Are Aimed at Kim Kardashian]

Swift added, “I have a really strict personal policy that I never name names. And so anybody saying that a song is about a specific person is purely speculating.”

‘Speak Now’

When Swift released “Better Than Revenge” from her third album Speak Now, she wrote of a woman who “stole” her boyfriend. The song references an actress who is better know for her skills on the mattress, a line which led to some criticism since Swift considers herself a feminist.

Instead of lambasting her ex-boyfriend—at the time, she had broken up with Joe Jonas—Swift attacked the other woman (presumably actress Camilla Belle), who was now dating him in the song.

She’s not a saint and she’s not what you think
She’s an actress, whoa
She’s better known for the things that she does
On the mattress, whoa
Soon she’s gonna find
Stealing other people’s toys on the playground
Won’t make you many friends
She should keep in mind
She should keep in mind
There is nothing I do better than revenge
, ha

In the song, Swift continues to knock the other woman’s lifestyle choices and calls out her lack of sophisication.

She looks at life like it’s a party and she’s on the list
She looks at me like I’m a trend and she’s so over it
I think her ever present frown is a little troubling
And, she thinks I’m psycho
‘Cause I like to rhyme her name with things, but
Sophistication isn’t what you wear, or who you know
Or pushing people down to get you where you wanna go
Oh they didn’t teach you that in prep school
So it’s up to me
But no amount of vintage dresses gives you dignity
(Think about what you did)

Swift later responded to the lyrics and said she was still a teenager when she wrote it, and knows better now.

“I was 18 when I wrote that,” said Swift of “Better Than Revenge” in 2014. “That’s the age you are when you think someone can actually take your boyfriend. Then you grow up and realize no one takes someone from you if they don’t want to leave.”

[RELATED: 8 Songs You Didn’t Know Taylor Swift Wrote For Other Artists]

‘(Taylor’s Version)’ Rewrite

In 2023, 13 years after the original release of and “Better Than Revenge,” Swift recorded the song for Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) and switched up the controversial mattress line in the chorus:

She’s not a saint and she’s not what you think
She’s an actress, woah
He was a moth to the flame
She was holding the matches, woah
Soon, she’s gonna find stealing other people’s toys
On the playground won’t make you many friends
She should keep in mind, she should keep in mind
There is nothing I do better than revenge (Revenge), ha

The lyrical switch led to some mixed feelings from fans, including some who believed the line should have been left as it was originally written, as a snapshot of Swift’s tortuous loves.

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Morgan Wallen Finally Address Being Arrested in Nashville

Morgan Wallen Speaks Out Over Nashville Arrest, Chair Throwing at Eric Church’s Bar