“Renegade” by Big Red Machine (ft. Taylor Swift)
For starters, despite being the featured artist on “Renegade”, Taylor Swift does serve as its lead vocalist, with Justin Vernon participating in that regard in more of a backup capacity. And perhaps you don’t need us to tell you that few artists can get as deep on the pop-love song tip as Tay Tay.
As such, what we’re actually dealing with here is a person she deems to be a “renegade”, though not in the outlaw sense of the word. Rather that designation acts as an allegory/metaphor, pointing to the notion of this individual being aversive to being in love. So it’s like he’s a ‘renegade to love’, so to speak.
But that isn’t necessarily the deep part. After all, love songs in which the addressee or even vocalist him or herself is not keen to giving their heart to another are quite common. Rather it is some of the more subtle hints dropped throughout which make the narrative more true-to-life.
For instance, this “renegade” is not someone who, as perhaps implied above, the vocalist is now trying to convince to get into a relationship with her. Rather as the song reads, based on the chorus for instance, they have been together for some time, and we may even say are in love. Or at least the vocalist seems to be in love with the addressee. But now here he is, breaking down if you will.
Or viewed alternatively, dude has always had “baggage”. Yet instead of these less-than-favorable emotions lessening over time, considering now that he’s found true love and all, they are in fact exacerbated. They have actually been worsened to the point where he is actually avoiding Taylor.
So Swift’s reaction is like, excuse her French, “get your sh-t together”. In other words, now is not the time for him to behave like an emotional weakling after already participating in a relationship that has gotten too far.
And apparently, at the base of said “baggage” is him possessing some type of “anxiety” and/or self-esteem issues. Indeed as Taylor beholds the broken man he has “crumbled into”, she acknowledges that if she knew he was this weak from the jump then she too probably wouldn’t have gotten into a relationship with him. But now it’s too late to change the present.
So conclusively and most simply put, it would appear that at the heart of the vocalist’s gripe is her falling in love with someone who, from an emotional/psychological standpoint, proved to be not up to the task.
And no, this is not in the puppy love sense of the word. Rather the two of them have already been romantically engaged, apparently for a duration of time, so now it’s like she can’t just pull away like that. And instead, she is faced with the harrowing and perhaps futile task of reassembling a suddenly broken man.
Release of “Renegade”
On 2 July 2021 Jagjaguwar, alongside an associated label called 37D03D, issued this as a single. It is the third single from Big Red Machine’s second album, “How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?” The pair’s first full-length was their self-titled debut album, which came out in 2018.
Who are Big Red Machine?
And whereas the moniker Big Red Machine may conjure up images of an entire band, this musical project only consists of two individuals at its chore. And those are Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame, alongside Aaron Dessner of The National fame.
FYI: Big Red Machine is not to be confused with Big Machine, i.e. the label Swift was signed to earlier in her career.
In more recent times Big Red Machine’s Aaron may be more recognizable to some readers as a producer. That’s because he served as the primary producer behind both of Taylor Swift’s 2020 albums (Folklore and Evermore).
He also performed the same role on Taylor’s 2021 project Fearless (Taylor’s Version). And by the way, all three of those albums topped the UK Albums Chart and Billboard 200. And to note, Dessner also produced “Renegade”.
Has Justin Vernon also worked with Swift before?
Yes. Justin also has a collaboration history with Taylor Swift. For instance, she featured him (under the Bon Iver moniker) on the Folklore track “Exile” (2021). Bon Iver also made an appearance on the song itself which is entitled “Evermore” (2021). In fact Vernon participated as a background vocalist or instrumentalist on a number of tracks from the Evermore album.
Also to note, Tay Tay is featured on another song from “How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last” which is entitled “Birch” and apparently won’t come out until the album itself does in late August, 2021.
More Facts about “Renegade”
The writers of “Renegade” are Taylor Swift and Aaron Dessner. It is a tune they put together after the completion of “Evermore” and agreed it sounded more like a Big Red Machine track.
And Aaron’s brother and The National bandmate Bryce Dessner also participated on the tune in an instrumental capacity.
The first time Big Red Machine teased this track, as well as apparently the album it is featured on, was on the date of 29 June 2021.
This song was recorded in three different locations, including one Swift herself erected in her home in Los Angeles called Kitty Committee Studio.