Taylor Swift’s ‘Better Man’ Is Reminiscent of Little Big Town’s Hit, But Different [Listen]
When Little Big Town recorded "Better Man" in 2016, they made clear that Taylor Swift didn't write the song for them. It was a song she had written and felt would be perfect for the quartet, and she was right.
The group's version became a No. 1 hit and won a CMA Award and a Grammy. Karen Fairchild's voice told the story of a love gone wrong over a pop-acoustic track build by Jay Joyce. Her deeper delivery is more mature than Swift's natural singing voice, and the presence of three gifting harmony singers add warmth to a cold, cold sentiment.
Released on Red (Taylor's Version) this week, "Better Man (Taylor's Version)" is brighter, with strings supplanting some of the country instruments heard previously. It's difficult to listen to a song like this and not wonder who inspired it — in fairness, many people asked that question five years ago, too — but the drama doesn't overtake a great lyric and personal vocal performance.
Red was Swift's final country album, released in 2012 on the strength of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "Begin Again." At 16 songs it was already a massive project, filled with tracks that said the same things as "Better Man" in ways a bit more true to who the singer (then age 23) was. She cleverly found it a home elsewhere (and as it turns out, did the same thing with "Babe," a single for Sugarland) and waited.