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Speak Now

Promotional Single | Speak Now (2010)

This article is about the song. For the album, see Speak Now (2010).
“Speak Now”, the title track of Taylor’s third studio album, Speak Now (2010). It transports listeners to a daydream of Taylor’s where a girl crashes her ex’s wedding so he won’t be stuck with someone who doesn’t treat him right.

Background and Lyrical Theme

“Speak Now” was written by Taylor alone, as were all the tracks for the album. The song was inspired by the story of one of her friends and her high school boyfriend. That friend is rumored to be Hayley Williams of Paramore, who attended the wedding of her ex-boyfriend and ex-bandmate Josh Farro in April 2010. The couple went their separate ways after high school – with the idea that they would get back together. One day, Taylor’s friend informed her that her high school boyfriend would soon wed. “He had met this girl who’s just this horrible, mean person who made him completely stop talking to all of his friends, cut off his family. She had him so completely isolated,” said Taylor. She asked her friend if she would “speak now.” Perplexed, her friend asked for an explanation, and she answered, “You know, storm the church. ‘Speak now or forever hold your peace.’ I’ll go with you. I’ll play guitar. It’d be great.” Taylor’s friend found this to be humorous, laughing at the idea:

«One of my friends, the guy she had been in love with since childhood was marrying this other girl. And my first inclination was to say, ‘Well, are you gonna speak now?’ And then I started thinking about what I would do if I was still in love with someone who was marrying someone who they shouldn’t be marrying. And so I wrote this song about exactly what my game plan would be.»

Taylor Swift
After speaking with her friend, Taylor became deeply fixated on the idea of how tragic it would be for the person one loved to wed someone else. That night, she experienced a dream where one of her own ex-boyfriends married another girl. To her, this signaled that she had to compose a song about interrupting a wedding. In retrospect, she concluded, “For me, I like to think of it as good versus evil. And this girl is just completely – just the evil one.” In the lyrics of “Speak Now”, she sings about crashing her former love’s wedding in attempt to win him back. The bridge has her responding to the priest’s calling of “Speak now or forever hold your peace” before repeating the opening lines. The last refrain is altered, with Taylor narrating from the groom’s perspective and informing her they will indeed run away together.

Release

Taylor entitled the album after “Speak Now” because it fit the album’s concept, with each song being a different confession to a person. “It’s called Speak Now, and that pertains to the album as a concept and as an entire theme of the record more than I can even tell you,” she said. The song was released as a promotional single on October 5, 2010, as part of “Countdown to Speak Now“, an exclusive campaign launched by the iTunes Store.

Live Performances

The song was performed as part of the regular setlist on the “Speak Now World Tour” (2011-2012). According to Jocelyn Vena of MTV.com, the performance was “a very theatrical moment” in which “Swift acted out crashing a wedding. She eventually stole the groom away, as she sings in the song, and the pair ran through the crowd together.” Taylor also performed the song on September 22, 2018 as the acoustic surprise song at the New Orleans stop on the “reputation Stadium Tour.”

Critical Reception

“Speak Now” received critical acclaim. Simon Vozick-Levinson of Entertainment Weekly deemed it one of Taylor’s best songs yet. He also said, “Her expressive delivery of the lyrics makes up for any shortcomings as a technical vocalist” and that it was “expertly catchy”. He concluded that he was unable to stop playing the song after he heard it. Bill Lamb of About.com said the song was “brilliant”. He continued, “The song is sweet, funny, bratty, and edgy all at the same time. Taylor Swift remains one of our most gifted young lyricists.”

Commercial Performance

“Speak Now” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 8 due to the sales of 217,000 digital downloads. With that week’s appearance on the chart, “Speak Now” became Taylor’s sixth top ten debut and, therefore, set the mark that made her the artist with most top ten debuts in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, surpassing the five top ten entries earned by Mariah Carey from 1995 to 1998. Elsewhere in North America, the track debuted at No. 8 on the Canadian Hot 100. In Australia, “Speak Now” debuted at No. 20.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
I am not the kind of girl
Who should be rudely barging in on a white veil occasion
But you are not the kind of boy
Who should be marrying the wrong girl

[Verse 2]
I sneak in and see your friends
And her snotty little family all dressed in pastel
And she is yelling at a bridesmaid
Somewhere back inside a room
Wearing a gown shaped like a pastry

[Pre-Chorus]
This is surely not what you thought it would be
I lose myself in a daydream
Where I stand and say

[Chorus 1]
Don’t say yes, run away now
I’ll meet you when you’re out of the church at the back door
Don’t wait, or say a single vow
You need to hear me out
And they said, “Speak now”

[Verse 3]
Fond gestures are exchanged
And the organ starts to play a song that sounds like a death march
And I am hiding in the curtains
It seems that I was uninvited by your lovely bride-to-be

[Pre-Chorus]
She floats down the aisle like a pageant queen
But I know you wish it was me
You wish it was me (Don’t you?)

[Chorus 1]
Don’t say yes, run away now
I’ll meet you when you’re out of the church at the back door
Don’t wait, or say a single vow
You need to hear me out
And they said, “Speak now”

[Chorus 2]
Don’t say yes, run away now
I’ll meet you when you’re out of the church at the back door
Don’t wait, or say a single vow
Your time is running out
And they said, “Speak now”

[Interlude]
Ooh, la-da-da-da
Ooh, ooh (Don’t say a single vow)

[Bridge]
I hear the preacher say,
“Speak now or forever hold your peace”
There’s the silence, there’s my last chance
I stand up with shaky hands, all eyes on me
Horrified looks from everyone in the room
But I’m only looking at you

[Repeat Verse 1]
I am not the kind of girl
Who should be rudely barging in on a white veil occasion
But you are not the kind of boy
Who should be marrying the wrong girl (Haha!)

[Chorus 1]
Don’t say yes, run away now
I’ll meet you when you’re out of the church at the back door
Don’t wait, or say a single vow
You need to hear me out
And they said, “Speak now”

[Chorus 3]
And you say, “Let’s run away now
I’ll meet you when I’m out of my tux at the back door
Baby, I didn’t say my vows
So glad you were around when they said, “Speak now””

General Information
AlbumSpeak Now
ReleasedOctober 25, 2010
Recorded2009–2010
GenreCountry Pop
Length4:03
LabelBig Machine Records
SongwriterTaylor Swift
ProducersNathan Chapman
Taylor Swift
SPEAK NOW CHRONOLOGY
Back to DecemberSpeak NowDear John
Single Certification
Hidden Message
You always regret what you don’t say
Song Artwork
Live Performance
Official Audio
Official Live Video