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Taylor previewed this upbeat track on the October 1, 2012 episode of ABC's Good Morning America
. The song finds the Country-Pop star playing with the idea of colors in relation to her emotions about a former beau, as she sings: "Losing him is blue, like I'd never known. Missing him was dark grey, all alone. Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met. But loving him was red." Before playing the track, Swift explained its meaning: "I wrote this song about the fact that some things are just hard to forget," she said, "because the emotions involved with them were so intense and, to me, intense emotion is red."
This seems like a good time to point out that Taylor's ex, John Mayer (likely the subject of her song "Dear John
"), has synaesthesia, which means he sees music as colors.
And one more thing on the topic: Fiona Apple did something similar - relating intense feelings to the color red - on her 2005 song "Red Red Red
Taylor first announced the title of the album during a web-chat on August 13, 2012. The Country star explained that she decided to name the LP after this song, as its lyrics encompass the entire theme of the project. "Thinking about what that means to me and all the different emotions that are written about on this album - they're all pretty much about the tumultuous, crazy, insane, intense, semi-toxic relationships that I've experienced in the last two years," she noted. "All those emotions - spanning from intense love, intense frustration, jealousy, confusion - in my mind, all those emotions are red. There's nothing in between; there is nothing beige about any of those feelings."
Writing this song was a turning point for Taylor, when she decided to work with different songwriters rather than Nathan Chapman, whom she wrote with on her first three albums. "I turned in 20 songs and I had this immediate sinking feeling, this can't be done, this can't be it," she explained to Billboard magazine. "I think the reason I said that was because I made the record exactly the same way I made the last three. I knew I hadn't jumped out of my comfort zone, which at the time was writing alone and working with Nathan. 'Red' the song was a real turning point for Red the album. When I wrote that song my mind started wandering to all the places we could go. If I were to think outside the box enough, go in with different people, I could learn from and have what they do rub off on me as well as have what I do rub off on them."
Red sold 1.208 million copies in its debut week, which was more than any album since 2002, when Eminem sold 1.322 million copies of The Eminem Show in its first seven days.
This meant that Taylor became the first woman ever to have two million-selling weeks since SoundScan started keeping track of album sales in 1991. (2010's Speak Now, sold 1.047 million copies in its first week).
The Red album topped the sales charts in 42 countries.
The Red album was based around one particular romance which ended badly, so Swift was surprised to receive a phone call from the ex in question after he heard the tracks. She told New York Magazine, "(I) heard from the guy that most of Red is about. He was like, 'I just listened to the album, and that was a really bittersweet experience for me. It was like going through a photo album.' That was nice. Nicer than, like, the ranting, crazy emails I got from this one dude. It's a lot more mature way of looking at a love that was wonderful until it was terrible, and both people got hurt from it - but one of those people happened to be a songwriter. So what are you going to do? Did you not Wikipedia me before you called me up (for a date)?"
Swift performed this song at the Grammy Awards in 2014, where she was nominated for Best Country Album, Best Country Song ("Begin Again") and Album Of The Year. She didn't claim any awards, but got a rousing ovation for her performance.
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