taylor swift exile bon iver

Taylor Swift – Exile Ft. Bon Iver | Lyrics Meaning & Song Review

“Exile” is the fourth track on Taylor Swift’s 2020 album ‘Folklore.’ This track is also the only collaboration on the album with the American indie folk band Bon Iver. The song features vocals by Justin Vernon, the lead vocalist of Bon Iver. The song talks about the feelings of two ex-lovers running into each other by happenstance.

Taylor Swift announced her 8th studio album ‘Folklore‘ just a few hours ahead of the album release on July 24, 2020. The album had no singles prior to the album release, and Taylor stated the reason for the ‘surprise’ album release as the “uncertainty” surrounding the world right now.

In a Tweet, Justin Vernon said; “Very very honored to be a part of Taylor’s album.” Song writing credits are also shared between Taylor Swift, Justin Vernon and William Bowery.

Listen to “exile” by Taylor Swift

Buy ‘Folklore’ Album on Apple Music and Amazon

“exile” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review

Verse 1

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver kicks off the song. He narrates a scene where he runs into his ex-girlfriend. He is not happy to see her with another man, although he addresses her “honey” out of the love that once was.

Vernon says that it only took “5 minutes” for her to pack her things and move on to another relationship after they broke up.


Justin Vernon performs the chorus in the first occurence.

He talks about this “movie” of their life, and he did not like being an actor in it. He did not like the ending because he was not there in the end. Vernon aslo says that he is not her problem anymore, which takes a sarcastic tone, as it is unlikely that someone will call themselves the “problem.” Hence, it should be the words from the female, calling him the problem in this relationship.

Verse 2

Taylor Swift jumps on the track to make her case.

Taylor also sees the ex-boyfriend staring at her and her new boyfriend. She does not like that he is staring at them, and probably judging them too. She brushes up on the possible reasons for the breakup: “Second, third, and hundredth chances.” Whatever the mistakes were done while they were together, the mistakes seemed to have just continued.

It is not a fun relationship if you have to walk on eggshells all the time…

From Taylor’s perspective of the chorus, she did not like how their script was being written for their relationship. So she would rather scrap the film altogether than star in one that she hates.


Both Taylor Swift and Justin Vernon join vocals on this section of “exile.”

They both sing about how and what lead to their breakup. Walking a thin line while communication failing, and with very little understanding between them, this relationship was built to fail.

Let us hear your thoughts about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics and further meaning breakdown on Genius.

Watch “exile” Studio Sessions with Bon Iver

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