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Taylor Swift: Speak Now

Concert & Documentary Special | November 25, 2010

Taylor Swift: Speak Now follows Taylor around on some incredible festivities during the release week of her third studio album, Speak Now (2010). It features one-of-a-kind performances everywhere from Central Park to downtown Hollywood. The TV special aired over the 2010 Thanksgiving weekend on NBC.
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NBC offered Taylor the opportunity to film a special, which would air on Thanksgiving night, one of the biggest television nights of the year. She gladly accepted but wanted to put her own spin to the concept:

«Instead of it being a typical live concert special I really wanted to focus it around the creation, promotion and life of an album. An album that I worked really hard on and am so proud of! I wanted to show parts of the creation of the songs, down to the very little hints of inspiration, and then taking it to the studio. And taking it all the way, when it's street week and time to put that album out into the world. It was a pretty intense glimpse into a release week. I had cameras following me non-stop, which was definitely interesting.»

The show includes behind-the-scenes footage of Taylor recording Speak Now and her recent publicity tour in New York City and Los Angeles. Of course, besides watching her in action, fans also hear her drop more hints about the heartfelt — and sometimes heartbreaking — inspirations behind some of her songs. Taylor said: “You write about things nobody knows you went through. My main focus when I’m writing a song is the person I’m writing it about, what they’re going to think of it and them knowing what I feel about them. A lot of times, they don’t know exactly what I felt. Somehow I feel more comfortable saying it all to them in a song … that many more people are going to hear than if I just sent a text message! [laughs] But that’s just how I feel more comfortable expressing myself.”

Wonderstruck in New York City

Taylor spent the first half of release week in New York City, visiting different talk shows and playing small pop-up concerts. One highlight was an intimate performance for a few hundred lucky fans on a rooftop by night. Taylor and her band were surrounded by the glittery skyline and the iconic Empire State Building. In a “Behind the Scenes” video for the NBC special, she said:

«The cool thing about New York City and why it's the place to be when you're releasing an album is because it has all these different ways that you can tell people about your music. You have Letterman, Good Morning America, the Today Show. There all these places where you can go and make people aware of the fact that you have new music coming out.»

Another performance is arguably one of the most well-known of Taylor’s entire career. She visited Central Park to sing “Back to December” on a piano live for the first time, accompanied by a string orchestra. The main goal was to capture the beautiful autumn scenery in the park while Taylor performed to a couple of thousand people:

«With the NBC special I wanted to visually represent sort of a glimpse of what I saw in my head when I wrote the song. I picked Central Park as a location to perform because I have a thing for it, especially in fall. So the fact that we got to have a piano, and strings, and all these fans, and the beautiful bridge. It was a good day.»

On the walk back through the park hundreds of fans and dozens of photographers were following her: “It was just very chaotic. With all the flurry of excitement going on with the record coming out, it was kind of a perfect thing.” To top the day off, she went to Starbucks at midnight to buy a copy of Speak Now, the minute it was officially released.

Haunted in Los Angeles

After New York City, Taylor flew to Los Angeles to host another couple of special performances, now that the album was officially out. One of them was a dramatic performance of “Haunted” in the Psycho house on the Universal Studios lot. Before they taped it, Taylor and her band were chased down the street by a bunch of guys with chainsaws. It worked to put them in the right mood:

«The look of the set of 'Haunted' was creepy and awesome. It was really dim but with colorful lights flying all around. It was great, we were all really trying to get into what the song means. It's about being really strung out on a relationship, and wishing you had it back, and being tormented by it. I think that really showed in that performance.»

The final surprise of release week was a surprise performance on Hollywood Boulevard. Taylor gave her fans an hour heads-up on Twitter before she and her band showed up in a double-decker bus to perform “Long Live“.

«I wanted to see what would happen if I tweeted that we would be somewhere and then show up and see...who else showed up. And so I did. Sure enough, we get on this giant bus that has my giant face on it. And we're standing on top of this bus and we're driving down Hollywood and Highland. And all of a sudden we see them.»

In addition to 8,000 fans there were also helicopters flying around. There was a good vibe in the air. “I wanted to sing ‘Long Live’ with a lot of fans that would show up just with a simple tweet. I initially wrote this song backstage in the changing room. Every single time I’d get ready for the encore of the ‘Fearless Tour‘ I had this melody in my head and it kept coming back to me every single night on this tour. So I initially wrote it about my band and the fans I see in the audience singing the songs. And how that makes me feel, like we’re a team.” The entire experience was unforgettable for Taylor:

«The feeling of, 'I'm gonna be in New York today, LA tomorrow. Then we're gonna be all over the world, just jet-setting around.' It was such an insane, fast-paced week of my life. And I'm so glad that we captured it on film! Watching it after all of this has happened, and after the fans have done so much for me, after the fans went out and bought over a million copies of that record in the first week. Having all that in my mind, and knowing all that, watching how it all began with this record was so emotional for me. I couldn't help but be so thankful, and so appreciative, and grateful that I get to do this.»

Watch "Taylor Swift: Speak Now"

General Information
Associated AlbumSpeak Now
ReleasedNovember 25, 2010
Runtime60 minutes
Production CompanyTodd Cassetty
Welding Service
Ryan Polito
Behind the Scenes
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