This is the title track from American Country-Pop singer-songwriter Taylor Swift's third studio album. The song finds the Love Story
hitmaker crashing a wedding where she believes her former lover is on the verge of marrying the wrong girl. She implores to him, "Don't say yes, run away now/I'll meet you when you're out, of the church at the back door."
While it sounds like Swift had been watching The Graduate when she wrote this, Taylor told E! News that she was inspired to pen this tune after hearing her friend's experience with a childhood sweetheart. "The song was actually inspired by one of my friends. She was telling me a story about her childhood sweetheart-crush guy," the hitmaker explained. "They were together in high school and then went their separate ways. I understood it as they were going to get back together.
She comes in and tells me that he's getting married. He had met this other girl who was a horrible person. She made him stop talking to his friends, cut off his family ties, and made him so isolated. And randomly, I was like, 'Oh, are you going to speak now?'"
The song debuted at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 dated October 23, 2010, Taylor's sixth single to land in the chart's top tier. This meant Taylor broke the record for the most Top 10 debuts in the history of the chart as her total surpassed the five Top 10 entries earned by Mariah Carey between 1995 and 1998.
Taylor explained to Chris Willman of Yahoo! Music why she chose to title the album after this song: "When titling an album," she explained, "for me the first step is I go down the titles of the songs I have so far, and see any of those titles could be the recurring theme throughout the entire record. At this point I had probably 70% of the songs that ended up being on the album. And I just kept going back to 'Speak Now,' because I think it's such a metaphor, that moment where it's almost too late, and you've got to either say what it is you are feeling or deal with the consequences forever. And I feel like that's such a metaphor for so many things that we go through in life, where you can either say what you mean or you can be quiet about it forever. And this album seemed like the opportunity for me to speak now or forever hold my peace."
After Taylor's conversation with her friend about the childhood sweetheart getting married to a mean girl, the singer had a dream about one of her ex-boyfriends getting married. It all seemed to knit together and Swift decided she needed to write this song about interrupting a wedding. She said on her website: "For me, I like to think of it as good versus evil, and this girl is so completely painted as the evil one."
The Speak Now album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with 1,047,000 copies sold. Here's a list of some of the feats it achieved according to Billboardmagazine:
This was the largest sales week for an album since 50 Cent's The Massacre notched 1,141,000 in its first sales week during March 2005.
It was the first million-plus launch since Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III bowed at #1 with 1,006,000 in June 2008.
Speak Now achieved the second-largest sales week of any country album and the largest for any female country act since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking music sales in 1991. Only Garth Brooks' 1998 LP, Double Life, moved more when it launched with 1,085,000.
Swift's long player accomplished the best week for any album by a female since 2000, when Britney Spears' Oops! I Did It Again entered the chart at #1 with 1,319,000.
Speak Now accounted in its debut week for one out of every six albums sold in the United States and sold more copies than numbers 2 to 62 combined on the chart.
Thanks to downloads sales, Swift debuted 10 tracks from the album onto the Hot 100 in its first week of release. As the other four Speak Now songs had already charted this meant every track from the 14-song standard edition appeared on the Hot 100.
Speak Now's sales represented 18% of all albums sold in its debut week, the highest first-week market share since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking US music sales in 1991.
A rather more dubious record set by Speak Now was that the album's sixth non-consecutive week at the top of the Billboard 200 in the week ending January 22, 2011 was achieved with sales of just 52,000 copies. This earned it the distinction of notching the lowest-ever sales frame for a #1 long player since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991. This was one record Taylor was probably relieved didn't last long as the following week Cake's Showroom of Compassion debuted atop the Billboard 200 with sales of just 44,000.
The Speak Now album was written entirely by Swift. It was her response to critics of her music claiming she didn't write her own songs.