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- that explores 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 the struggling person’s friend or partner. And most notably this record shows how one person’s mental health challenges can affect their relationships.
Although as a friend or partner they want to be there for the person they love, it is frustrating to deal with this person’s mental health challenges. This makes it difficult to love them. Your friends or partner is alredy hurting and blaming them for the problems in your relationship would be insensitive. They might already be their own worst enemy. Sometimes when it feels like too much, the friend or partner begins to wonder what they walked into. Swift 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”.
The friend or partner feels betrayed because their partner is not the same person they thought they were or 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 frustrating 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 friend or partner to get their shit together kindly and firmly- a little bit like a mother would. For me, the lyrics are a good example of a communication that enables a friendship 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 seems unbearable knowing you have someone by your side can mean all the difference.
Listen to Renegade here.