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Inside Taylor Swift’s Friendship With The National’s Aaron Dessner: A Complete Timeline

Taylor Swift and Aaron Dessner’s Complete Friendship Timeline
Octavio Jones/TAS23/Getty Images for for TAS Rights Management

If musical soulmates exist, Taylor Swift and Aaron Dessner would be strong contenders for the title.

The pair have collaborated on multiple albums together, including Swift’s hotly anticipated 11th record, The Tortured Poets Department. Dessner, a founding member of the rock band The National, has lent his producing and writing skills to many of Swift’s tracks, including beloved tunes like “Willow” and “Cardigan.”

Outside of the studio, the duo frequently share high praise for one another, with Dessner telling the “Broken Record” podcast in April 2023 that they’ve had “amazing moments” during their songwriting sessions. “We’ve become really close friends and she couldn’t be more lovely and fun,” he said. “Legitimately, she’s just a really lovely, hyper-intelligent, down-to-earth person.”

Keep scrolling for the complete timeline of Swift and Dessner’s friendship:

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March 2014

Dessner first crossed paths with Swift on the set of Saturday Night Live. The National was featured as a musical guest on the sketch comedy show when Lena Dunham, a close pal of Swift’s, hosted the show. Five years later, the pair reunited when Swift attended a National concert in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

“She talked a lot with my brother [Bryce] and me,” he recounted in an interview with Pitchfork. “That’s when we realized how much of a fan she was, and how lovely and down-to-earth.”

April 2019

Swift reached out to Dessner via text and suggested the pair collaborate on her album Folklore. “I got a text and it said, ‘Hey, it’s Taylor. Would you ever be up for writing songs with me?’ I said, ‘Wow. Of course,’” he told Pitchfork.

July 2020

Folklore featured 11 songs cowritten by Dessner, including “Seven” and “Hoax.” Dessner later opened up about the experience of recording the album amid the COVID pandemic, explaining how the songs came together during such a complicated time.

“I thought it would take a while for song ideas to come and I had no expectations as far as what we could accomplish remotely. But a few hours after sharing music, my phone lit up with a voice memo from Taylor of a fully written version of a song — the momentum never really stopped,” he wrote via Instagram after the album’s surprise release, adding that he had “rarely” been so inspired by someone.

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November 2020

Taylor Swift and Aaron Dessner’s Complete Friendship Timeline
TAS Rights Management 2021 via Getty Images

Swift, alongside Dessner and frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff, starred in the Disney+ documentary Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions. Shot at Dessner’s Long Pond Studio in Hudson, New York, the film featured conversations with the artists about bringing Folklore to life, along with live performances.

While the trio were filming the documentary, they started plotting their second collaboration: Evermore.

December 2020

Evermore, a sister album to Folklore, also featured multiple songs cowritten by Dessner, including “‘Ivy” and “Willow.” That same month, Dessner told Billboard that he imagines he and Swift will “make music together in some ways forever.”

July 2021

Taylor Swift and Aaron Dessner’s Complete Friendship Timeline
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Swift took to Instagram to share the Big Red Machine song “Renegade,” which she cowrote with Dessner. “When Aaron came into my life, I was ushered into his world of free-flowing creativity where you don’t overthink, you just make music,” she captioned her post. “His generosity of spirit and humility bleeds into every part of his life.”

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October 2022

Although Dessner didn’t share any writing credits on the standard edition of Swift’s 2022 album, Midnights, fans were delighted to discover that he took part in the deluxe version of the album, cowriting and producing “The Great War,” “High Infidelity” and “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve.”

After the bonus tracks dropped, Dessner tweeted, “Congrats @taylorswift13 @jackantonoff and all who contributed to the brilliant main album and [applause] to the chaotic 3am deluxe shift also…..incredibly honored as always to help make songs with you.”

June 2023

Taylor Swift and Aaron Dessner’s Complete Friendship Timeline
TAS2023 via Getty Images

Swift brought Dessner on stage for the first-ever live performance of “Seven” during The Eras Tour in Pittsburgh. “A lot of you know who this man is right here,” she told the crowd. “This is someone I’d categorize as a soulmate collaborator. He’s an incredible musician, instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, and without him this whole tour wouldn’t have happened.”

April 2024

Dessner worked on 17 songs with Swift for her album The Tortured Poets Department, including “So Long, London,” “Clara Bow,” “But Daddy I Love Him,” “loml,” “Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus” and “How Did It End?”

“We started working on these songs over two years ago and it feels like they have kept us company and evolved in beautiful and unexpected ways through so much life lived during this process,” Dessner wrote via Instagram after the album’s release. “It’s hard to believe Taylor and I have now recorded over 60 songs together (17 across this anthology!!) in the 4 years since we began working together on Folklore in 2020. I am forever grateful to Taylor for sharing her insane talents with and trusting me with her music. I believe these songs are some of the most lyrically acute, intricate, vulnerable and cathartic Taylor has ever written and I am continually astonished by her skills as a songwriter and performer.”

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