The Last Time (Taylor Swift song)

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"The Last Time"
Taylor Swift - The Last Time (feat. Gary Lightbody) (Official Single Cover).png
Single by Taylor Swift featuring Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol
from the album Red
ReleasedNovember 4, 2013 (2013-11-04)
GenreAlternative rock
LabelBig Machine
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" 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 song, with influences of folk rock.[1] It was added to the playlist of British national radio station BBC Radio 2 on October 19, 2013,[2] and had a limited release to contemporary hit radio in the United Kingdom on November 4, 2013.[3]

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 a power ballad[4] that draws primarily from alternative rock.[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".[4]

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.[1] He further commented that the song "proves she is ready for the adult-pop realm" and lends her artistic credibility.[1] 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."[7]

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."[4] 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.[8]

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song premiered on November 15, 2013, on Vevo and YouTube. The video is three minutes and 48 seconds in length. As of August 2021, the video has garnered over 46 million views on 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.[9] 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.[10]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Tidal.[11]

  • Taylor Swift – vocals, songwriter
  • Gary Lightbody – featured vocals, songwriter
  • Jacknife Lee – producer, songwriter, guitar
  • Matty Green – assistant mixer
  • Chris Owens – assistant recording engineer
  • John Krovoza – cello
  • Peggy Baldwin – cello
  • Richard Dodd – cello
  • 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
  • Brett Banducci – viola
  • Lauren Chipman – viola
  • Rodney Wirtz – viola
  • Amy Wickman – violin
  • Daphne Chen – violin
  • Eric Gorfain – violin
  • Gina Kronstadt – violin
  • Marisa Kuney – violin
  • Neli Nikolaeva – violin
  • Radu Pieptea – violin
  • Wes Precourt – violin

Live performances[edit]

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


Chart (2012–13) Peak
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[12] 14
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[13] 73
Ireland (IRMA)[14] 15
Scotland (OCC)[15] 20
UK Singles (OCC)[16] 25
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[17] 3

The Last Time (Taylor's Version)[edit]

"The Last Time (Taylor's Version)"
Song by Taylor Swift featuring Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol
from the album Red (Taylor's Version)

On August 6, 2021, Swift announced that a re-recorded version of "The Last Time", titled "The Last Time (Taylor's Version)", would be included as the tenth track on her second re-recorded album Red (Taylor's Version), which is set for release on November 19, 2021, through Republic Records.[18]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ "BBC – Radio 2 – Playlist". BBC Radio 2. BBC. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  3. ^ Lane, Daniel (November 4, 2013). "This week's new releases 04-11-2013". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on March 25, 2014. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Lewis, Randy (November 18, 2013). "Watch new Taylor Swift video 'The Last Time' with Gary Lightbody". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 12, 2014.
  6. ^ "Update - Owen Pallett". Archived from the original on January 7, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  7. ^ Sciarretto, Amy. "Taylor Swift, 'Red' - Album Review". PopCrush. Townsquare Media. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  8. ^ Dukes, Billy. "Taylor Swift, 'Red' - Album Review". Taste of Country. Townsquare Media. Archived from the original on November 4, 2017. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  9. ^ "CapitalFM: Taylor Swift Joined By Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody During Sacramento Tour Show". August 28, 2013. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  10. ^ Newman, Melinda (November 18, 2013). "Taylor Swift and Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody in 'The Last Time' video". HitFix. Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
  11. ^ "Try the TIDAL Web Player". Archived from the original on June 24, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  12. ^ " – Taylor Swift feat. Gary Lightbody – The Last Time" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  13. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  14. ^ "Chart Track: Week 45, 2013". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  15. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  16. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  17. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  18. ^ Swift, Taylor [@taylorswift] (August 6, 2021). "I know some of you thought that would be like trying to solve a crossword and realizing there's no right answer played it good & right. Congrats pals, you guessed the correct titles and feature artists on Red (my version). The vault tracks will feature @chrisstapleton, @phoebebridgers, @markfoster and the first song @teddysphotos and I ever wrote together the first time we met in 2012❗️I can't express my gratitude enough to these artists for helping me bring these songs to life. I can't wait til we can dust off our highest hopes and relive these memories together. We'll also be making a bunch of new ones too, since Red (Taylor's Version) includes so many songs you haven't heard yet. Til then, I'll be counting down and picturing it all in my head. In burning red. Red (Taylor's Version) out November 19. Pre-order now". Retrieved August 6, 2021 – via Instagram.