“Speak Now” is, without a doubt, a part of so many Swifties’ core memories
Being a Swiftie has been part of our identities at some point—I’m speaking for the millions of devoted fans out there and, of course, myself. It’s almost like a religious experience; every Swiftie knows exactly how, when, where and what made them fall in love with Taylor Swift and her music. As for myself, it was during her Speak Now era.
At 8-years-old, I giddily dragged my parents to an AstroVision store one random Sunday afternoon, begging them to buy me Speak Now after hearing one of the songs on the radio that same day. Eventually, they gave in and were automatically forced to listen to the same CD on every single car ride for the next three months. I remember how excited I would get singing along to each song, following the album booklet, word for word, as I tried to memorize every lyric. My mom stands as a testament to this; she’s memorized some of these songs by heart as well. It was through this album that I fell in love with music and understood the joy of being able to tell stories through song.
Fast forward to 2012, and I had bought every other Taylor Swift album out there and listened to everything another hundred million times. I learned that Taylor Swift was coming to the Philippines for her Speak Now tour (cue my 10-year-old screaming). I begged my parents to go non-stop, and even though the tickets were sold out, my parents were still determined to get me to that concert. So they entered every single gas station giveaway to help turn my dream into a reality. Eventually, my dad won GA tickets to the concert (again, the screaming noises) and little me got to attend her first-ever concert to see Taylor Swift from the top of Araneta Coliseum.
Speak Now holds so many precious memories for me, and I’m sure the same can be said for all the other Swifties out there. This is why the release of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) is extremely special; it rekindles a lot of beautiful memories from a time gone by.
What better way to celebrate this occasion than by remembering how Speak Now has changed the lives of these Swifties one song at a time?
View this post on Instagram
Wonder: What does Speak Now mean to you?
Rance: Taylor Swift was me and my brother's biggest childhood crush, and Speak Now was one of the first albums we bought alongside Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and Maroon 5. It holds sentimental and nostalgic value since it would be on a constant loop in our car, going to and from school. We memorized every song from it! This lineup of songs is still some of the best pieces Taylor has ever released even until now (in my opinion). Nothing succeeding has ever topped this album for me!
Jerika: I always read the album title as her telling me to literally “speak now,” because, growing up, that was something I always struggled with. Whether that be because I was scared of being judged or scared to be unlovable, Speak Now gave me the confidence to speak my mind, the courage to feel all the feelings, and the comfort in knowing that I'm not alone in any of this.
Joaquin: Speak Now, in my opinion, is one of Taylor’s most vulnerable and raw albums. It’s completely self-written, [so] I guess that’s why. But, I resonate with the album a lot because it portrays a lot of the feelings someone my age right now is going through—like heartbreak, forgiveness, self-pity love, pettiness, all that stuff. Definitely always swimming in my feelings when listening to this album.
Miks: To be completely honest, it doesn't really rank high on my list of Taylor albums. But it's an album that perfectly encapsulates my transition from child to teen, dealing with my own angst. It's a reminder of hard times I overcame (no matter how cringey), like a hug from an old friend that I haven't seen in a long while.
Dakota: In a lot of ways, Speak Now was the first album in my life, since it was the first album I actually remember listening to and liking. So it was very groundbreaking for me. I think as a child, Speak Now as an album was more [about] the idea of Taylor Swift—a pretty blonde girl with bright, red lips in a great dress—and that’s what drew me to her and the album, initially.
Looking back, even if I sang the songs without really knowing what they meant, Speak Now was such an important album, especially in girlhood (diary culture and everything). So after actually listening to the lyrics now [since I’ve grown up], Speak Now (and all of Taylor Swift’s albums, for that matter) basically represented a safe space for me to really feel whatever it is I’m feeling with no shame—whether it be going through a heartbreak, experiencing jealousy or unrequited love; you name it!
It’s as if Taylor just knew that we’d all need a song to cry and sing our hearts out to when we eventually experience seeing a guy for the first time and immediately having the biggest crush on him (cue Enchanted).
View this post on Instagram
Wonder: Where were you mentally during the release of Speak Now?
Rance: I was still very young and free when I was exposed to Speak Now, and it was an extremely easy listen, making my young, naïve mind really connect with it. Even today, it's more apparent how well-composed and structured these songs are.
Jerika: I started listening to Speak Now [at a time when I was most insecure]—growing up as a teenage girl. Hearing Taylor be so vocal about her love life, her heartbreaks, her regrets and her hidden desires shocked me at first, but then made me feel so empowered to vocalize my feelings like she does in her songs. Especially during a time [when] girls being vocal or even girls just being girls was so looked down upon or made fun of in the media, I thought Taylor was so brave for being so unapologetically herself.
Joaquin: Honestly, I became a full-on Swiftie during her Reputation era. But I was so young and, at that time, all I knew [from] Taylor was Love Story and You Belong With Me. Then I remember walking around a mall and passing by a record store where I saw a poster of Speak Now as it was just released. That purple cover was so eye-catching that I had to pause and reflect on how Taylor had a new album after Fearless. Fast forward to now, I’m giving Speak Now the recognition it deserves because I wasn’t able to when I was younger.
Miks: Honestly, I don't think I was conscious enough of releases at the time. But it really grew on me months and years later.
Dakota: When Speak Now came out, I was at a very innocent and blissful point [in] my life. I wouldn’t say that I really related to any of the songs on the album upon first hearing them, but I just associated the feeling of singing along to the lyrics as something so freeing and liberating—I guess to me it was just fun to finally get to a point where I could memorize the lyrics to a song and belt it out any time I hear it. Looking back though, Speak Now was definitely brought to me at a time when everything just felt right, and to hear the songs now as I’m a lot older makes me feel almost as if I’m back at a point in my life when everything was so easy and simple.
View this post on Instagram
Wonder: How did Speak Now change your life?
Rance: Speak Now made me a bonafide Swiftie…for a time. While I don't listen to her as much as I used to, I will hold this album in a special place in my heart. It didn't change my life per se, but I know that I am not alone in saying that Speak Now is one damn good album!
Jerika: I appreciated how Speak Now (and honestly, all her albums in general) gave me the opportunity to make the best girlfriends. Such special and deep connections were made over Taylor Swift; screaming our hearts out in karaoke sessions, crying to Dear John or Back to December during sleepovers, or just playing it in the background together. I really owe some of my greatest female friendships to this woman!
Joaquin: Around two to three years ago, when I was going through a lot of teenage things and heartbreak stuff, Speak Now, especially Enchanted, Last Kiss and The Story Of Us, were my anthems. They helped me go through all my mixed emotions. Taylor’s lyrics, the specificity of it, have always [made] me cry. It was comforting to know that someone as big of a deal as Taylor went through things similar to my own experiences, which helped me move on eventually.
Miks: These were the love songs that were palatable to me and helped me work my imagination. That same imagination that I needed to jumpstart my writing. Eventually, music and my craft would be intertwined, with some thanks to Taylor's amazing storytelling inspiring me to interpret it and make it my own.
Dakota: Speak Now has so many anthems that I still find relevant today, and it’s particularly interesting to see how these songs mold and find new meanings in the different phases of my life. So to me, Speak Now is able to verbalize something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do on my own, and even if the experiences we go through are all different, the essence of the emotions behind every lyric is something we can all universally relate to, which is so liberating and comforting to know. And on a deeper level, how it changed my life was really based on how it gave me a deeper understanding of what love means and how it can be felt and expressed in so many different ways.
View this post on Instagram
It’s amazing what an artist can do for the lives of so many people without them even knowing. And after all the interviews and touching stories shared, I thought I’d ask my own mom how Speak Now has changed her life. So to end on a sentimental note, this is what she said:
“Speak Now made my bond with my daughter stronger ” (cue 21-year-old sobbing).
Words Vanessa Tiong
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver