Taylor Swift let fans in her hometown of Nashville to be the first to get the official news: “Speak Now” will be the next album in her “Taylor’s Version” series of re-recorded albums.
Swift is giving fans plenty of time to pre-order the violet vinyl: She revealed that it’s coming out in all formats July 7.
“I think rather than me speaking about it,” she said, to screams, as fans realized from the language that the long-awaited announcement was at hand, “I thought I would show you, so if you would direct your attention” to the big screens… There, the album cover and release date were shown, before Swift launched into the “Speak Now” track “Sparks Fly” as a surprise song.
Upon the announcement at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium, the city turned on purple lights on the nearby bridge over the Cumberland River.
About 10 minutes after making the announcement, she posted to her social accounts. “It fills me with such pride and joy to announce that my version of Speak Now will be out July 7 (just in time for July 9th, iykyk,” she wrote, using the acronym for “iykyk.” (The July 9 reference refers to a specific mention of that date in the lyrics of “Last Kiss” — believed to be a date in 2008 when she went to Texas to visit then-boyfriend Joe Jonas.)
“I first made Speak Now, completely self-written, between the ages of 18 and 20. The songs that came from this time in my life were marked by their brutal honesty, unfiltered diaristic confessions and wild wistfulness. I love this album because it tells a tale of growing up, flailing, flying and crashing… and living to speak about it. With six extra songs I’ve sprung loose from the vault, I absolutely cannot wait to celebrate Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) with you on July 7th.”
In an additional image, Swift wrote, “I always looked at this album as my album, and the lump in my throat expands to a quivering voice as I say this. Thanks to you, dear reader, it finally will be. I consider this music to be, along with your faith in me, the best thing that’s ever been mine.” The “it finally will be” in this message presumably refers to Swift now having a version of the collection that she fully owns, as opposed to the original Big Machine recording. (The “best thing that’s ever been mine” line is a direct quote from “Mine,” which was the lead single from “Speak Now” in 2010.)
Fans had a pretty strong indication of what was coming, entering Friday’s Nashville show. Wristbands given out to fans turned purple at the end of her previous concert this past Sunday, and electronic banners coming into Nissan Stadium were purple-hued.
Swifties had long speculated whether “Speak Now” or “1989” would be next to get the re-recording-plus-bonus-tracks treatment, with the evidence increasingly weighing in her third album’s favor.
The new cover art has modern-day Swift wearing a dress similar to the one she wore on the front of the original album in 2010, but with a more serious expression that marks her as definitely not the 20-year-old who posed for the Big Machine edition’s cover.
Swift did not immediately release titles or any other information about the bonus “Vault” tracks, other than to say there would be six. The total 22-song count for the release is confirmed on a product page that went up shortly after the announcement, where it’s revealed that the LP version will be a three-record set, released on “three unique violet marble color vinyl discs.”
So far on the Eras Tour, Swift has only been performing one song on a nightly basis from the “Speak Now” album, “Enchanted,” far less than any other album she’s put out except for her debut, which has no nightly representation. Rather than lead fans to suspect that she disfavors the album, that peculiar choice to make the album practically MIA in the three-hour-plus sets only heightened anticipation that she might be waiting to add more material from “Speak Now” until she was ready to announce the re-recording.
Swift made her announcement right after moving onto the B-stage for the solo-acoustic “surprise songs” segment that comes late in the evening each night on tour. Although Swift inevitably used the moment to premiere a “Speak Now” song that had not previously been played on the tour, “Sparks Fly,” accompanying herself on the guitar, she didn’t devote both surprise slots to the album. The second surprise number Friday was from a different album — “Teardrops on My Guitar,” from her debut, performed perhaps counterintuitively on the piano, not guitar.
(A third song made its debut on the tour Friday night, albeit not during the surprise songs segment. During the portion of the show dedicated to the album “Red,” opening act Phoebe Bridgers, making her first appearance on the Eras Tour, joined Swift to sing a duet of “Nothing New,” which they recorded together for the Vault section of “Red (Taylor’s Version).”)
Swift has been recording all-new versions of all of her Big Machine releases, with only “Fearless” and “Red” having come out so far in “Taylor’s Version” editions. The new albums have been strong sellers, as fans follow her wishes to buy and stream only the versions where she owns the recordings outright, after her public distress at her Big Machine catalog having been sold against her wishes. The “TV” editions have also included copious bonus tracks of songs Swift wrote but never released during those eras.
“Speak Now” was a landmark album for Swift 13 years ago, becoming the first and only album for which Swift was the sole songwriter on all the tracks — seen at the time as a reaction to cynics who believed that the young singer’s co-writers must have done the heavier lifting on her first two albums. Having made the point, Swift resumed working with writing collaborators on the following release, “Red.”
The album is also remembered for marking a more decided turn toward pop, from her country origins, even though it would be another couple of albums still before she firmly declared herself a pop artist. At the same time, it signified a move into still-bolder songwriting, as in “Dear John,” still one of Swift’s most strikingly raw songs to date. Six songs from the album charted in the Billboard Hot 100: “Mine,” “Back to December,” “Mean,” “The Story of Us,” “Sparks Fly” and “Ours” (the last of which did not appear until a deluxe edition with extra tracks was belatedly released).
Although none of the songs from the album went to No. 1, “Speak Now” itself debuted atop the Billboard 200 with over a million copies sold in its first week. The Big Machine ultimately spent six weeks at No. 1 and has been certified six-times platinum.