As far as the inspiration for the song it is reportedly about her ex Jake Gyllenhaal. Taylor has said this song was the hardest to write on this album.
Well I think Taylor accomplished her goal well because the song truly does tell a story. A story of young love (look at lyrics here) and a great relationship. Her memories of her first time going over to his sister's house and forgetting her scarf there, knowing he would take it. And how she felt like she fit in there- felt right at home. She remembers every detail from the weather to the looks on their faces. She remembers everything good and wonderful about that relationship. And then in this pre-chorus there is one line that really stood out to me in its confusion and its beauty. "I might be okay, but I'm not fine at all." It could mean a lot of different things. It could mean that she seems okay on the outside but she really isn't doing well or that she is doing better now but she still isn't great because she still misses him. I think you can sort of interpret that in your own way. And then there's the typical part of the relationship where you look at old school photos and what not that she remembers and there's one line I find particularly find saddening and confusing. "You taught me about your past, thinking your future was me". And it seems to me that this person broke up with her, and it's confusing for her because she too believed she would be his future. So why would he leave? Well I think she is confused by that, too. I think her point in this song even was that she still remembered every detail of their happy relationship and that what makes those pleasant memories painful was that she didn't understand why it ended. And it has a sense of longing to it, but not for him to come back. She knows it's over and she knows that even if they did get back together that they would never be the same, but it doesn't stop the memories from coming back. And then she transitions into this stage of a little bit of anger where you see she blames herself saying maybe she "asked for too much". But then she basically says "Well, you know what? Maybe it's your fault. You destroyed this amazing thing we had." And I think she even wants to make him feel a little guilty by telling him "You remember it all" so she's saying "I know you remember all of it so why would you do that?"All Too Well” [was difficult to write emotionally] because it took me a really long time to filter through everything I wanted to put in the song without it being a 10 minute song, which you can’t put on an album. I wanted a story that could work in the form of a song and I called my co-writer Liz Rose and said, ‘Come over, we’ve gotta filter this down,’ and it took me a really long time to get it."
Well, girls, here's the problem. Like the lines in the photo above, if he is that cruel to you, to give you no reasons why he is leaving, then he wasn't that great of a guy to begin with. If he would do something like that to you, then you deserve better. And there's another line in there that says "I forget about you long enough to forget why I needed to". That indicates that there was some reason why you needed to forget him and that could be that there were times he didn't treat you well. I mean, every couple will have times when they don't treat each other well but if that happens a lot, he isn't that great. That may not be what you want to hear but sometimes it's what you need to hear. There is someone else who won't ever leave you and he is out there. So even though these memories come back now, they won't forever. They'll fade with time- you just have to let time do its job. You have to step back though. Even if it seems that time is moving at a snails pace while trying to help with those painful memories, you have to let it. And eventually you won't see those memories as painful anymore. So try to just let time heal you because it will. You just have to be willing to let it and to let go of those memories.
-Autumn the Music Girl