Like so many of Taylor’s songs, she draws you in with the clever music arrangement. Then that one-liner hits- the one that you didn’t see coming and didn’t know you needed to hear until now. That one lyric encapsulated an emotion you couldn’t articulate until now. Before you know it you’re playing it on repeat. Wondering how this woman put confusing indescribable emotions into words. Now you can reason with your emotions and also find some comfort knowing that you aren’t alone.
Is it insensitive for me to say Get your shit together So I can love you
You fire off missiles cause You hate yourself But do you know you’re demolishing me?
And if I would’ve known How sharp the pieces were You’d crumbled into I might’ve let them lay
Renegade is one of a handful of Taylor’s songs- like Mean, Clean, and The Archer- about mental health. Renegade is about someone struggling with mental health who has trouble loving and being loved in their relationship. What is very interesting is that it is sung from the point of view of their partner. And most notably this record helps people understand that mental health issues can affect relationships.
Although they want to be there for the person they love, it is frustrating because their partner is struggling with their mental health. This makes it difficult to love them. Your partner is hurting and blaming them for the problems in your relationship would be insensitive. They might become their own worst enemy. Sometimes it feels like too much, they begin to wonder what they walked into. She sums up this regret in this brutally honest lyric “And if I would’ve known how many pieces you had crumbled into I might have let them lay”.
You begin to feel betrayed because your partner is not the same person you fell in love with or signed up for. In a sense, they’ve become a turncoat, a traitor, a renegade. You want to love them but they make it difficult to be loved. Another predicament Taylor captures in lyrics like “Is it insensitive for me to say Get your shit together So I can love you” or “Is it really your anxiety that stops you from giving me everything? Or do you just not want to?”.
This song is calling out your partner to get their shit together kindly and firmly- a little bit like a mother would. For me, the lyrics are the epitome of great communication that enables any relationship to thrive. Taylor is straightforward with her asks and clear with her needs. She expresses a great deal of empathy in the lyric “You’ve come a long way; open the blinds, let me see your face You wouldn’t be the first renegade to need somebody” - knowing that the best thing to do is be by their side. When life gets hard knowing you have someone by your side can mean all the difference.
Listen to Renegade here.