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Aaron Dessner says Taylor Swift wrote ‘Willow’ in “less than 10 minutes”

Aaron Dessner has said that Taylor Swift wrote ‘Willow’ in “less than 10 minutes” in a new interview.

Speaking to PEOPLE in light of Taylor Swift’s cover feature on the magazine, Dessner reflected on his experience producing a pair of her albums, namely 2020’s ‘Folklore’ and 2021’s ‘Evermore’, and expressed admiration for her unwavering work ethic.

“I think Taylor is one of the greatest songwriters of all time,” he said. “I love the sense of belonging that this creates in Taylor’s music, where joy, overcoming adversity, shattering patriarchal structures and celebrating diversity are so prevalent as themes.”

When asked about a memory from his collaborations that demonstrates Swift’s excellence, he spoke about how quickly she wrote ‘Evermore’ opener ‘Willow’. “When I sent Taylor the music for our song “Willow” — I think she wrote the entire song from start to finish in less than 10 minutes and sent it back to me,” he stated. “It was like an earthquake. Then Taylor said, ‘I guess we are making another album.’”

Taylor Swift performs live with The National’s Aaron Dessner on the ‘Eras Tour’. CREDIT: Getty

Elsewhere in the interview, Dessner highlights first taking note of Swift’s work when she released ‘1989’ in 2014, calling it a “perfect pop record”. Additionally, he spoke in greater depth about working with Swift on ‘Folklore’, stating that she never “made [him] feel any of the shadow of her previous work or success”: “It felt like we were on our own private artistic life raft, just making songs to soothe our souls and get through such an uncertain and difficult time.”

The National guitarist also touched briefly on his experiences joining her as a guest on a few dates of her ‘Eras’ tour, calling the acoustically-driven, ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’-inspired segments of the show a “special moment”. “It’s hard to describe how exhilarating it was to play ‘Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve’ in the pouring rain acoustically in Nashville,” he said.

Aaron Dessner has had a busy few years since 2020 as a member of The National and producer for other artists. In 2023, The National released two full-length albums: ‘The First Two Pages Of Frankenstein’ in April, and its surprise follow-up, ‘Laugh Track’ in September. The band have been touring North America and Europe in support of these albums since May, and are scheduled to tour Australia, New Zealand and more of Europe in 2024.

Aside from work with The National and Taylor Swift, Dessner has continued working with pop artists, producing Gracie Abrams’ debut full-length, ‘Good Riddance’ and Ed Sheeran’s latest album, ‘-’. Commenting on his collaboration with Sheeran, Dessner said: “It couldn’t have been more natural, fun and rewarding to feel him jumping off the cliff with me. Over time, I’ve tired of the ‘what’s cool?’ debate.”

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