The Last Time (Taylor Swift song)

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"The Last Time"
Swift standing in a stream
Single by Taylor Swift featuring Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol
from the album Red
  • November 4, 2013 (2013-11-04) (original)
  • November 12, 2021 (2021-11-12) (Taylor's Version)
LabelBig Machine (original)
Producer(s)Jacknife Lee
Taylor Swift singles chronology
"Everything Has Changed"
"The Last Time"
"Shake It Off"
Music video
"The Last Time" on YouTube
"The Last Time (Taylor's Version)" (lyric video) on YouTube

"The Last Time" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, taken from her fourth studio album, Red (2012). It was released as the seventh and final single from the album. One of two collaborations on Red, the song features Northern Irish singer Gary Lightbody of the band Snow Patrol. The artists co-wrote the song with its producer, Jacknife Lee. "The Last Time" is an alternative rock, pop rock and folk ballad. The song was released to UK contemporary hit radio on November 4, 2013.[1] A re-recorded version, "The Last Time (Taylor's Version)", was included on Swift's re-recorded album Red (Taylor's Version), released on November 12, 2021.

Background and composition[edit]

On the album, "The Last Time" comes after the song "Stay Stay Stay". Swift opted to collaborate with several producers on the album. One of the resulting collaborations was "The Last Time", which was produced by Jacknife Lee, who is best known for working with Snow Patrol and U2.

"The Last Time" is an alternative rock,[2] pop rock[3] and folk[4] power ballad.[5] This is evident in Owen Pallett's string arrangements and conducting on the track.[6] It was written in the key of D major, and has a tempo of 94 BPM.

The song tells the story of a long-standing but crumbling relationship. Lyrically, the song describes the relationship as one with vicious cycles of both heartbreak and forgiveness, for instance: "You find yourself at my door, just like all those times before, you wear your best apology, but I was there to watch you leave" as sung by Swift. Orchestral swells accentuate the chorus and drama to the "instantly hummable refrain".[5]

Swift re-recorded "The Last Time", subtitled "(Taylor's Version)", for her second re-recorded album, Red (Taylor's Version), released on November 12, 2021, through Republic Records.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

The song received critical acclaim. Joseph Atilano of The Philippine Inquirer described "The Last Time" as the most mature track on the album and positively noted that it "represents a darker tone" on Red.[4] He further commented that the song "proves she is ready for the adult-pop realm" and lends her artistic credibility.[4] Amy Sciarretto of PopCrush also praised Swift's maturity on the track, which she felt would fare well on adult contemporary radio. Sciarretto also characterized the song as "darkly romantic" and "sort of epic."[8]

Randall Roberts of The Los Angeles Times responded favorably to the song's balladry, writing that the song "is well-crafted, emotional and features an instantly hummable refrain."[5] Billy Dukes of Taste of Country was more critical of the song, as he felt Lightbody dominates the track and Swift "stretches out in the back seat"; he called "The Last Time" the "only pure skip-ahead moment" on Red.[9]

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song premiered on November 15, 2013, on Vevo and YouTube.

Similarly to her music video for the album's title track "Red", "The Last Time" music video features concert footage from Swift's The Red Tour in Sacramento, California on August 27, 2013. This was the first time Lightbody and Swift performed the single together live.[10] The video starts off with Lightbody being lifted up onto the stage and Swift approaching him from behind. They begin the duet seated, with their backs facing each other. The video is inter-spliced throughout with footage showing fans' hand-made signs and cheering. The video ends with Lightbody and Swift finishing their duet on stage. The video was directed by Terry Richardson.[11]


"The Last Time" (2012)[12]

  • Taylor Swift – lead vocals, songwriter
  • Gary Lightbody – featured vocals, songwriter
  • Jacknife Lee – producer, songwriter, guitar
  • Matty Green – assistant mixer
  • Chris Owens – assistant recording engineer
  • Owen Pallett – conductor
  • Bill Rieflin – drums
  • Matt Bishop – engineer, editor
  • Sam Bell – engineer
  • Marcia Dickstein – harp
  • Hank Williams – mastering engineer
  • Mark Stent – mixer
  • Jamie Muhoberac – piano
  • Jeff Takiguchi – upright bass
  • Simeon Pillich – upright bass
  • John Krovoza, Peggy Baldwin, Richard Dodd – cello
  • Brett Banducci, Lauren Chipman, Rodney Wirtz – viola
  • Amy Wickman, Daphne Chen, Eric Gorfain, Gina Kronstadt, Marisa Kuney, Neli Nikolaeva, Radu Pieptea, Wes Precourt – violin

"The Last Time (Taylor's Version)" (2021)[13]

  • Taylor Swift – lead vocals, songwriter
  • Gary Lightbody – lead vocals, songwriter, guitar
  • Jacknife Lee – producer, songwriter, recording engineer, programming, bass, keyboard, piano, guitar
  • Matt Bishop – recording engineer
  • Christopher Rowe – vocal engineer
  • John Hanes – recording engineer
  • Bryce Bordone – assistant mixer
  • Serban Ghenea – mixer
  • Matt Bishop – editor
  • Davide Rossi – cello, viola, violin, strings arranger
  • Matt Bishop – drums
  • Owen Pallett – strings arranger

Live performances[edit]

On August 27, 2013, Swift and Lightbody performed this song on Swift's The Red Tour in Sacramento, California for the very first time. The pair performed the song once again on the tenth season of British version of The X Factor on November 3, 2013 to support sales as a UK single.



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  3. ^ "Taylor Swift recreates 2012 album Red to foil former record company". Financial Times. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Atilano, Joseph R. (November 13, 2012). "Album Review: "RED" by Taylor Swift". The Philippine Inquirer. Archived from the original on December 24, 2017. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Roberts, Randall. "'The Last Time' connects Taylor Swift with Arcade Fire". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 22, 2013. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  6. ^ "Update - Owen Pallett". Archived from the original on January 7, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  7. ^ Al-Heeti, Abrar (November 11, 2021). "Red (Taylor's Version): Release date, tracklist, why Taylor Swift is rerecording her albums". CNET. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
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