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Should've Said No

Single | Taylor Swift (2006)

“Should’ve Said No” was made a single from Taylor’s debut studio album, Taylor Swift (2006). In it, Taylor is addressing her former boyfriend who cheated on her.

Background and Lyrical Theme

Taylor wrote “Should’ve Said No” when she was 16 years old. According to the song’s secret message in the album lyric booklet, the boy in question’s name is Sam. The first line that came to her was the title, and she wrote the chorus in five minutes. Taylor has also said that many of the lyrics were based on actual words that she used when confronting her then-boyfriend. She said:

«Just being a human being, I’ve realized that before every big problem you create for yourself, before every huge mess you have to clean up, there was a crucial moment where you could’ve just said no. This is a song I wrote about a guy who never should have cheated on me.»

Taylor Swift
She compared the song to her previous single “Picture to Burn“. While “Picture to Burn” has an “angry and I’m-done-with-him attitude”, “Should’ve Said No” is “more of a moral statement. It’s an, ‘I love you, we were awesome and great together, but you messed this up and I would still be with you’ kinda thing. You said yes, and you should’ve said no.”

Last Minute Addition

“Should’ve Said No” was written and recorded on the very last day of studio recording for Taylor Swift. Taylor explained: “I wrote this song by myself, and it literally took me just 20 minutes to write before we recorded it. I was living every line in this song at the time.” Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta said that she called him and said she had just finished the song. He recalled that she asked first if he needed to hear it, but he told her no because she sounded so excited about it, allowing her to put it on the album right away. “That was a very real moment and I just trusted her higher instincts. For all our records I’ve left them open open until literally the last possible day because she’s always writing,” he remarked.

Live Performances

“Should’ve Said No” was the epic finale on Taylor’s first headlining tour, the “Fearless Tour“. The song is also included in the concert film Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, and in the soundtrack to the movie. On the “reputation Stadium Tour” Taylor performed “Should’ve Said No” with a mashup of “Bad Blood“.

Critical Reception

“Should’ve Said No” received critical acclaim along with “Picture to Burn”. Roger Holland of PopMatters said that “Should’ve Said No” is “a truly splendid pop-rock song wrapped up in an almost entirely spurious country arrangement.” Chris Neal of Country Weekly believed “Should’ve Said No” and her previous single “Picture to Burn”, were the most immediately striking songs on Taylor Swift.

Commercial Performance

“Should’ve Said No” became Taylor’s second No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and was a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. An alternate version of the song was released on Taylor’s 2008 extended play Beautiful Eyes.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
It’s strange to think the songs we used to sing
The smiles, the flowers, everything is gone
Yesterday I found out about you
Even now just looking at you: feels wrong

[Pre-chorus 1]
You say that you’d take it all back, given one chance
It was a moment of weakness and you said, “Yes”

[Chorus]
You should’ve said, “No”, you should’ve gone home
You should’ve thought twice ‘fore you let it all go
You should’ve know that word, ’bout what you did with her
Get back to me (Get back to me)
And I should’ve been there, in the back of your mind
I shouldn’t be asking myself, “Why?”
You shouldn’t be begging for forgiveness at my feet
You should’ve said no, baby, and you might still have me

[Verse 2]
You can see that I’ve been crying
Baby you know all the right things to say
But do you honestly expect me to believe
We could ever be the same?

[Pre-chorus 2]
You say that the past is the past, you need one chance
It was a moment of weakness and you said, “Yes”

[Chorus]
You should’ve said, “No”, you should’ve gone home
You should’ve thought twice ‘fore you let it all go
You should’ve know that word, ’bout what you did with her
Get back to me (Get back to me)
And I should’ve been there, in the back of your mind
I shouldn’t be asking myself, “Why?”
You shouldn’t be begging for forgiveness at my feet
You should’ve said no, baby, and you might still have me

[Bridge]
I can’t resist
Before you go tell me this
Was it worth it?
Was she worth this?

No no, no, no

[Chorus]
You should’ve said, “No”, you should’ve gone home
You should’ve thought twice ‘fore you let it all go
You should’ve know that word, ’bout what you did with her
Get back to me (Get back to me)
And I should’ve been there, in the back of your mind
I shouldn’t be asking myself, “Why?”
You shouldn’t be begging for forgiveness at my feet
You should’ve said no, baby, and you might still have me

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General Information
AlbumTaylor Swift
ReleasedOctober 24, 2006
Recorded2006
StudioDarkhorse Recording (Nashville)
GenreCountry Pop
Length4:04
LabelBig Machine Records
SongwriterTaylor Swift
ProducerNathan Chapman
TAYLOR SWIFT CHRONOLOGY
Stay BeautifulShould’ve Said NoMary’s Song (Oh My My My)
Single Certification
Hidden Message
Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam
Single Artwork
Music Video
Live Performance
Official Audio