'Speak Now': How Taylor Swift Explained Album's Title and Her Songwriting Process in 2010 (Flashback)

Learn how the songstress described her third studio album 13 years before the recent release of 'Speak Now (Taylor's Version).'

Taylor Swift has released Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), the GRAMMY winner’s third re-recorded album, after Fearless and Red in 2021. To celebrate, ET is revisiting Swift’s original interview from 13 years ago, when she explained how the album’s title compliments its central themes and what led to her being the sole songwriter for all 14 tracks.

For the songstress, Speak Now was "more personal than anything" she had put out before at the time, with its release following two "really intense" years for her personally, professionally and everything in between.

"I don't think I would have been happy about this album if I hadn't written about all of it," Swift told ET in 2010. "I tend to include details and the entire story, because, for me, the most fun part about this, and the most intriguing part about music, is the storytelling that's woven into it with the lyrics."

The album’s titular song was inspired by the wedding ceremony staple, which Swift interpreted for track number four as "a metaphor for waiting until it's too late to say something," an experience all too familiar to the then-20-year-old. 

"That's been a habit that I've had in my life… Where I don't know what to say or I don't know what to think about," she admitted. "I just go silent, until I know what to say. And that's usually when I write a song about it. And so this album is called Speak Now, because I'm finally saying all of it."

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The track list ran the gamut, boasting love songs ("Mine," "Sparks Fly," "Ours"), breakup anthems ("Last Kiss," "Dear John," "Haunted"), alongside a response to past critics ("Mean") and a tribute to Swifties ("Long Live"). As Swift told it, penning every song for her third studio album was an organic next step.

"I came to Nashville when I was 14, and got a publishing deal, and immediately started co-writing with people. Before that, I had just written by myself in my bedroom," she noted of this career crossroad, adding that she didn’t even know what a "co-writer" was at the time. "On [Speak Now], I just found myself getting inspired to write songs at four in the morning or while I was in the middle of a conversation or while I was on tour in Arkansas. And there's no one to call to say, 'Hey, do you want to write this with me?' So, I just wrote all the songs by myself."

When it comes to real-life inspiration, Swift was as coy as ever, offering only that there are "repeat offenders" who she’s written "a few songs about." Of course, "Dear John" is long-presumed to refer to her rumored romance with John Mayer. Meanwhile, Taylor Lautner has confirmed "Back to December" examined their brief relationship in 2009.

That said, Swift reminded ET, "There are a lot of different things that have happened in the last two years that have inspired the concept of this album." One of those being Kanye West’s infamous mic grab at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, which prompted the Best Female Video winner to pen a lyrical response to the rapper that she performed 10 days before this interview at the 2010 ceremony.

"I was really grateful to get the chance to sing a new song, 'Innocent,' on the VMAs," Swift said. "And that really falls under the same theme of the entire record of just saying exactly how you feel when the moment is right."

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"A lot of times, I don't know exactly how I feel about something until I write that song about it," she added. "And that's how I know what my opinion is about something; how I feel about something. Music has helped me so much in just getting through life. And that's one of the things I'm very thankful to have discovered songwriting."

In 2023, Swift says of Speak Now (TV), "It’s here. It’s yours, it’s mine, it’s ours. It’s an album I wrote alone about the whims, fantasies, heartaches, dramas and tragedies I lived out as a young woman between 18 and 20. I remember making track list after track list, obsessing over the right way to tell the story. I had to be ruthless with my choices, and I left behind some songs I am still unfailingly proud of now. Therefore, you have 6 From The Vault tracks! I recorded this album when I was 32 (and still growing up, now) and the memories it brought back filled me with nostalgia and appreciation. For life, for you, for the fact that I get to reclaim my work. Thank you a million times, for the memories that break our fall."