Don't Speak

Album: Tragic Kingdom (1995)
Charted: 1 1
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Songfacts®:

  • This song is about the relationship lead singer Gwen Stefani had with bassist Tony Kanal for seven years. She's saying that what they had was real, and it's a pity it couldn't last - don't bother explaining because it hurts. It didn't work out between Stefani and Kanal, but she didn't give up on musicians. She married Bush lead singer Gavin Rossdale in 2002; when they split in 2015, she took up with country star Blake Shelton, her co-star on the singing competition The Voice. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Dinga - Townsville, Australia
  • Gwen Stefani wrote this song with her brother, Eric Stefani, before he left the band - originally it was a love song. After Tony Kanal dumped Gwen, it became a song about heartbreak.

    Eric Stefani founded the group but left in 1994 just before they hit it big. He's not exactly wracked with regret: he left to take a job with The Simpsons as an animator.
  • Stefani and Kanal broke up during the making of the Tragic Kingdom album, which took about two years to record (1993-1995). Gwen was with the band when they started in 1986; Kanal joined in 1987, and they started dating soon after.
  • 1996 was a huge year for No Doubt, which got signed to Interscope in 1991 and released their debut album a year later. The single from that album, "Trapped In A Box," got a music video and earned some airplay on KROQ in Los Angeles, but against the tide of grunge, their ska-tinged sound couldn't find a broad audience. The Tragic Kingdom album was released in October 1995, and in the spring of 1996 started gaining traction thanks to the lead single, "Just A Girl." That summer, they toured with Bush (where Gwen met Gavin) and got a flurry of press attention. In a bid to boost album sales, Interscope stopped releasing singles but pushed "Spiderwebs" to radio in the fall, followed by "Don't Speak," which earned an absurd amount of airplay as it was embraced by radio stations across a range of formats. It went to #1 on Billboard's Airplay chart dated December 7, 1996, and spent 16 weeks at the top. Billboard's rules at the time precluded any song not released as a single from the Hot 100, but on the albums chart that date, Tragic Kingdom went to #1 and stayed there for nine weeks. It went on to sell over 10 million copies in America, earning a rare Diamond certification.

    No Doubt stayed on the road throughout 1997 and didn't release their next album, Return Of Saturn, until 2000.
  • This song got a boost when No Doubt played it on Saturday Night Live December 7, 1996.
  • A few other songs on the album also deal with Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal's breakup, notably "Happy Now?" where Gwen lets him have it. While Stefani processed it by writing songs about it, Kanal internalized it - it wasn't until he heard the songs on the radio that it really sunk in. Despite their split, they continued to work quite well together and were able to maintain a friendship.
  • Thanks to this song, No Doubt was nominated for Grammy Awards (Best Rock Album and Best New Artist) and an American Music Award (Favorite New Artist Pop/Rock), but didn't win. Their first trip to the podium came at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, where "Don't Speak" won for Best Group Video. It was the first of several No Doubt videos directed by Sophie Muller.
  • The video is a commentary on the attention the media lavished on Stefani while ignoring her bandmates. The boys all give Gwen dirty looks and seem to be kind of upset all through the video. Kanal commented: "We didn't want it to be about a normal breakup. So we thought: 'What would be the saddest thing that could happen? The band splitting up?' So that's what the video's about."
  • Although never released as a single in the US, "Don't Speak" went straight to #1 in the UK on February 22, 1997 and stayed there for three weeks. It was their biggest UK hit; when the song took off, "Just A Girl," which was released earlier and stalled at #38, was re-released, this time going to #3. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Adam - Dewsbury, England
  • A cartoon version of No Doubt performed this on the animated TV show King Of The Hill in 2001. In the show, they play a prom after Bobby Hill wins a contest.
  • The first few seconds of this song sound very similar to "Dream On" by Aerosmith. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    John - Mountain Lakes, NJ
  • Tom Dumont's Spanish guitar solo was spliced together from six different studio takes. "I was thinking about how any true classical players would've hated the way I did it," he said. "I played it with a pick - a huge no-no."

Comments: 34

  • Armin from Dallas/fort WorthGwen and her band really hit a home run on this one. The song is a universal truth, a common denominator of humanity. Her voice is so fragile and empathetic that the feelings sound so raw in her singing. This is one of those songs that despite all the crazy amount of airplay it got, it never got old. Even today it never fails to stop me in my tracks.
  • Brenda M from New Jersey I love Gwen love her voice she’s amazing still is absolutely adore this favorite song of mine.
  • Horatio from Usa I loved this song as a kid and still do my first two crushes were Dolores O'Riordan and gwen Stefani. I mean they were just it for me when I was young
  • Goose from Sydney AustraliaI love and hate this song. I broke up with a long time girlfriend once and I broke her heart as she had marriage and the whole future planned out. This song reminds me of her reaction and I see the whole break up from her side. whenever I hear this song I am overcome with guilt for being the one who caused a lot of pain to someone I once loved and still have fond memories of.
  • Jean from Gatineau, QuebecThis song is so good it gets you from the inside and brings emotions until the end...
  • Gracie from Chicago, IlI love this song it is the best!
  • Jenessa from Granbury, TxThe song is about a girl who was betrayed by someone she loved and is reminiscing on the good times as Maxiell commented.
    It can also be applied to a friendship, doesn't have to be about a romantic relationship. It reminds me of when I lost my best friend especially when I hear the lyric "You and me, we used to be together, every day together, always, I really feel that I'm losing my best friend."
  • Dan from IdahoI think the beginning notes sound more like the intro to "Breakfast in America" by Supertramp than "Dream On" by Aerosmith. The intro is even in the same key as Supertramp's song.
  • Audrey from Lawrance, MaI love No Doubt and I love this song.
  • Stephanie from Los Angeles, Cathis song remind me of my past relationship i fell in love with my best friend he understood me he made me laugh he made me smile and after our brake up nothing was the same we couldn't just hang out like we use to everything was awkward and it made me sad to htink how it messed our friendship
  • Maxiell from Pompano Beach, FlThis song brings back so many memories. This is a song about her and her on again off again relationship with Tony Kanal. She was just reminicing on her relationship and how painful it was. She also appears to be strong, but devastated by what happened between the two. This song was also about No Doubt becoming a group and how she was becoming a sex symbol rather than an actual rock band. I think it also had to do with her look, and how it impacted people's perceptions at the time. Overall, this song was truly a hit, and a remarkable album. Number 1 on the billboards, and will always continue to prosper and live on. May No Doubt live foreveor.
  • Kiarra from St. Charles, MoChrisette Michele did her rendition of this song at the 2009 at the Pepsi Music Studios.
  • Kane from Wytheville, Vadid u know gwen stenafani's brother works on the simpsons NO DOUBT!
  • Louise from Newcastle, United KingdomThis song makes me weep. Gwen puts some real emotion behind it.
  • Paul from Bucharest, RomaniaThis band was fantastic in the 90's.. not as good as Oasis but still.. anyway Gwen lost a lot of fans (including me) after the band split and she became a rapper.. or whatever she became.. really if the band reunited and she would start singing rock again a lot of the older fanbase might return. PLEASE REUNITE NO DOUBT!!!
  • Bertrand from Paris, FranceThis song is somewhat of an anomaly in style from much of the rest of No Doubt's work, but it served to make the band's lead vocalist Gwen Stefani a recognizable star. The song's pop hook kept it on the pop chart for most of the year.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhWhile the song was written about a split between a man & woman, it can actually take on a different meaning. This song was popular during the last months of my mother's life. She'd had open-heart surgery in 1995 & after one good year, she started a slow progression towards the end of her life. A part of me could not, would not, accept this. And altho both she & I were aware of this possibility, (I was 30-something & she was in her 70s), neither of us could even go there in conversation. Too painful. Perhaps it did not have to be spoken as was such the closeness in our relationship, we knew without words what each was feeling. What still surprises me most is that this song played on the car radio daily every single time I drove to visit my mom but because I was dealing with so much emotional stress, at the time, I never connected the words to what I was experiencing. Then a few days after she died, in April of 1997, I heard the song & just started to weep heavily because it expressed everything I had felt during my mom's last days on earth. Even now, reading the words, I still hear this as a song from a child to a parent who is dying. Hey, awesome song, awesome video.
  • Joy from Melbourne, AustraliaI LOVE GWEN!!!
  • Danielle from Palm Coast, Flwhen i first herd this song i thought it was about gossip and i could relate to it thinking of hanging out with someone how talks behind your back but you don t want to know what their saying words hert! i was in middle school when everyone was insecure with their bodies and roomers were always spreading. and when gossip was the only conversation most middle schoolers could carry. hearing that song really helped knowing other people went through it to but i mis interrupted it don t speak i thought was saying don t tell me what their saying behind my back. but it really about a brake up!!! im glad i misunderstood it it is what got me through middel school.
  • Nicole from Kenosha, WiI love this song, I listen to it because I just went through a break up and it makes me feel better to know think others can relate to how I feel.
  • Sean from Lake Charles, LaThis song rocks! I love Gwen.
  • Claire from Oak Ridge, TnA very lovely, heartfelt song. Appease the gods of music, Tom, Tony, Adrian, and Gwen. Reunite, that we may hear good music again!
  • Jessie from Brisbane, Australiai heard that gwen wrote this song when her n her boyfriend who was a memeber of the band broke up after a long term relationship... how awkward would it have been for gwen to spend som much time with him after he brok her heart???
  • Grace from Fairfax Station, VaNo Doubt is one of my favorite bands. I love this song because the beginning is so beautiful and you can sing a lot with it.
  • Mark from Miami, FlI agree...No Doubt sounded a lot like garbage after Tragic Kingdom....but then again garbage is a good band....so maybe they just sucked...
  • Shawn from Boise, IdNo Doubt used to rock!! I think they'd still be putting up numbers if they kept the feel they had in the late 90's...Gwen...pull it together. You aren't a rap artist!!
  • Chris from Victoria, TxI heard the band almost broke up before filming the video. This is No Doubt's best song and best album, they suck otherwise.
  • Jude from Los Angeles, CaYeah I know the lyrics to this song and it's awesome I would love to sing it as a cover song for my band someday I really love the lyrics and how she sang it with her heart I could act it out singing it as well.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThe other members of No Doubt had a long-term vendetta against Gwen Stefani when this came out, as she was the only member of the band who ever got attention. The entire band had their photo taken for the front cover of a music magazine in 1997 - or so they thought... However, only Gwen's face appeared, and the caption below referred to her as "the one-woman-band, Gwen Stefani, who performs under the alias of NO DOUBT!"
  • Chad from Orlando, FlI thought this was a single, they made a video for it
  • Lisa from Cranberry Hill, CtThis is one of their best songs- their earlier period is their best. Lately, it seems they may be selling out... @.@
  • Virna from Santo Domingo, OtherThis song is the best!!!!! One of my favs from No Doubt!
  • Pavitra from Cape Town, South AfricaNo Doubt rocks! - no doubt!!!
  • Brooke from Sedona, AzGwen is now married to Gavin from Bush. YEA GWEN! :)
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