Like most of Swift's songs, this was based on a real experience. As a teenager, she had an argument with her parents over a boy - they thought he was a creep, and Taylor thought it was love. She told 60 Minutes that he was, indeed, a creep, but she thought he was amazing at the time. The pre-chorus of the song came into her head: "You were Romeo, you were throwing pebbles, and my daddy said, 'Stay away from Juliet.'" She grabbed her guitar and worked out the chords on her bedroom floor.
Taylor added that the song was met with indifference from her record company and her parents, but she fought for it, which she says was a fun experience because she had something to prove.
This could be about Swift's relationship with Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, whom she dated for much of 2008. The line "Romeo, take me some place we can be alone" relates to how they were never alone due to their popularity. "I sneak out to the garden" is symbolic of how they had to sneak around to have dates due to the paparazzi.
The song also talks about Swift's father and his objection to Joe, but Taylor ignored her father's advice and continued to date him until their breakup in October.
Anna - Brooklyn, NY
Swift expanded on this song's invocation of the story of Romeo and Juliet in an interview with the Los Angeles Times October 26, 2008. Said Swift: "I was going through a situation like that where I could relate. I used to be in high school where you see [a boyfriend] every day. Then I was in a situation where it wasn't so easy for me, and I wrote this song because I could relate to the whole Romeo and Juliet thing. I was really inspired by that story. Except for the ending. I feel like they had such promise and they were so crazy for each other. And if that had just gone a little bit differently, it could have been the best love story ever told. And it is one of the best love stories ever told, but it's a tragedy. I thought, why can't you... make it a happy ending and put a key change in the song and turn it into a marriage proposal?"
Taylor Swift told The Morning Call the story of this song: "I wrote it about a guy that I was talking to. He wasn't the popular choice, but I believed in it. I thought, 'This love is different, but it's real.' And I knew I needed to put that line in somewhere. I think that this song is really more about a love that's not convenient and not as comfortable as something else, but it's something you have to fight for. I added the ending [a proposal] cause I want that ending. I want someone to say, 'I love you and that's all I really know.' That's the girly girl in me."
Swift told Billboard magazine that the song is about "a love that you've got to hide because for whatever reason it wouldn't go over well. I spun it in the direction of 'Romeo and Juliet'; our parents are fighting. I relate to it more as a love that you cannot really elaborate on - a love that maybe society wouldn't accept [or] maybe your friends wouldn't accept."
The part of "Romeo" in the song's music video was played by Justin Gastin. The country singer and model is also known for being a contestant on Nashville Star and for dating Miley Cyrus.
This was the first country song to top the Mainstream Top 40 chart in that tally's history. The previous highest ranking on that chart for a country song, was the #3 placing of Shania Twain's "You're Still the One" in 1998.
Marketing country and western acts in Europe can be a problem, so an alternative "International Radio Mix" was created for the release of this song across the Atlantic. This country-lite mix retained the banjo plucking from the originally version but added a bassline, drums and an electric guitar solo to make it more palatable to European ears. The tactic worked in the UK, as this song became Swift's first British hit.
On the chart week of June 6, 2009, this climbed to the peak position of the Adult Contemporary chart. This was the fifth song to reach #1 on both the Adult Contemporary and Hot Country lists. The previous four to do so were "What Hurts The Most
," Rascal Flatts, 2006-07, "I Hope You Dance
," Lee Ann Womack, 2001, "Breathe
," Faith Hill, 2000 and "You're Still the One," Shania Twain, 1998.
Swift won video of the year and female video of the year at the 2009 Country Music Television awards for this song's promo. On winning the latter award Swift said, "This is for everybody who still believes in love stories, because I do."
Swift won her second straight song of the year award at the 2009 BMI Country Awards for this song. (Teardrops On My Guitar
earned the prestigious honor in 2008.)
This song won the Video of the Year Award at the 2009 Country Music Association Awards. At the same ceremony, Swift swept up three other awards including Entertainer of the Year, becoming the youngest winner of the association's highest honor, as well as Album of the Year for Fearless and Female Vocalist of the Year.