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Music Reviews

MPAA Rating
Speak Now
Country, Pop
Debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Record Label
Big Machine
October 12, 2010
Bob Hoose
Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

"Speak Now"

With two wildly popular albums and four years of superstardom tucked neatly under her stylish belt, Taylor Swift seems to have a pretty good handle on what her fans want to hear. Up until now, that's mostly meant schoolyard ballads of the boy-meets-girl variety. But with this acoustic guitar country-pop charmer from her third album, Taylor steps into a decidedly more grown-up setting.

"This song was inspired by one of my friends who was telling me about her childhood sweetheart," Taylor said in a video interview on "They were kind of together in high school, and then they went their separate ways. And I always kind of understood that they were going to get back together. … One day [she] comes in and tells me, 'He's getting married!' He had met this girl, who was just this horrible, mean person who made him, like, completely stop talking to all of his friends, cut off his family, had him like so completely isolated. And I just kind of randomly was like, 'Huh. Are you going to speak now?' And she was like, 'What do you mean?' And I was like, 'You know, like, storm the church. Speak now or forever hold your peace.' … Later I had a dream about one of my ex-boyfriends getting married. And it just all came together that I needed to write this song about interrupting a wedding. For me, I like to think of it as good vs. evil. And this girl is so completely painted as just the evil one."

So, though she doesn't think of herself as "the kind of girl who should be rudely bargin' in on a white-veil occasion," Taylor nevertheless finds herself lurking behind the curtains at the back of the church just as an ex is about to wed. She can't imagine her former beau ending up in the matrimonial embrace of someone she's convinced is the "wrong girl."

After all, the bride-to-be—who's "wearing a gown shaped like a pastry," "yelling at a bridesmaid" and "float[ing] down the aisle like a pageant queen"—can't be right for the man who once loved her.

You know where this is heading.

When the pastor intones, "Speak now or forever hold your peace," she jumps up with "shaking hands" and a voice full of objections, begging the groom to realize that she's his only chance at true love. "Don't say yes, run away now/I'll meet you when you're out/Of the church at the back door," Taylor sings. "Don't wait or say a single vow/You need to hear me out."

Is her impulse to put a halt to the proceedings justified? Or is she tutoring young fans in the art of the selfish and demeaning outburst? Should we tisk-tisk a selfish girl's antics or cheer for her fantasy happily-ever-after ending? Well, I guess it depends on your point of view, and whether you wore white or pink to this particular nuptial.

Taylor thinks she's doing what any honest ex should. And the song's grateful guy seems to think so, too. "Baby, I didn't say my vows," he says. "So glad you were around when they said, 'Speak now.'"

I'll stay out of it. Mostly. But if you bring it up during a Sunday dinner, you just might find that it triggers a rousing conversation about motives, attitudes, social graces and how fairy tales stack up against real life.