Renegade

Big Red Machine Renegade music video

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Kristin Smith

Album Review

Taylor Swift has paired up with Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon from Big Red Machine for the latter’s latest single, “Renegade.”

This indie-alternative track sounds like a page right out of Swift’s latest album, Evermore. It features Swift singing from the perspective of a lover who wants to connect with her significant other, but finds it difficult as this person is drowning in depression and anxiety.  

Pro-Social Content

Swift voices concern for a significant other, wondering what they may need to feel normal again. She reaches out to this person, in midst of their struggles, wanting to understand and walk with them through their pain: “It’s time, you’ve come a long way/Open the blinds let me see your face/You wouldn’t be the first renegade/To need somebody…/Is it really your anxiety/That stops you from giving me everything/Or do you just not want to?”

Objectionable Content

Yet, helping someone through anxiety and depression is difficult, because knowing how to do so isn’t easy. But that reality takes a profane turn: “Is it insensitive for me to say/Get your s— together?/So I can love you.” We also hear about how trying to help can hurt the helper, too. (“You fire off missiles ‘cause you hate yourself/But do you know you’re demolishing me?”) And it’s frustrating that they can’t seem to rise above their own internal struggles: “Are you really gonna talk about timing in times like these?/And let all your damage damage me?”

Summary Advisory

This lonely, difficult song is made a bit less lonely with Swift’s voice and beautiful harmonies. But it’s mixed with a profanity and struggles that can be hard to hear—but that some may be able to relate to.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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