CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 30: EDITORIAL USE ONLY  Taylor Swift performs onstage during "Taylor Swift |...
The Inspiration Behind Every Song On Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)

Overanalyzing Taylor lyrics? Check.

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It’s time for Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) — and the Swifties have plenty to celebrate. The re-released album comes with all of their old favorites, plus six new songs from the vault. So, now’s as good a time as any to look back over the inspiration behind the fan-favorite Taylor Swift album.

Nostalgic fans — the ones who were listening back when Speak Now came out for the first time in October 2010 — know there’s a lot of lore surrounding this album. Many songs do refer to Swift’s romantic past, inspired by ex-boyfriends, but that’s far from her only source of inspiration. Harsh critics, painful memories (hi, Kanye), and sweet moments on tour also influenced this era. “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,” Swift wrote on Instagram in May when announcing the re-release. “I consider this music to be, along with your faith in me, the best thing that’s ever been mine.”

As you get ready to listen (or re-listen), here’s a full breakdown of Swift’s reported — and, sometimes, confirmed — inspiration behind every song on Speak Now (Taylor’s Version).

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In “Mine,” Swift tells a story of two people falling in love — even if their relationship starts out with some fears and commitment issues. "I was reflecting back on a boy I liked at a certain time," she explained the song to Rolling Stone, per Self. "The song is about what it would be like if I actually let my guard down."

Though Swift has never explicitly said who “Mine” was written about, fans think it’s referring to her rumored short-lived fling with Glee’s Cory Monteith, since they were reportedly together a few months before the song was released. Plus, an IG account run by Monteith’s mother posted a Story, featuring a photo of Monteith and Swift with the song “Mine” playing over it.

“Sparks Fly”
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Swift’s song “Sparks Fly” is rumored to be about country singer Jake Owen, whom Swift opened for back in 2006. Back in the day, she wrote a blog post about her show with Owen, which happened to be in Portland, Oregon. In the album booklet for “Sparks Fly,” she left “Portland, Oregon” as a code, clueing fans into her inspo behind the romantic track — even if she never confirmed any romance with Owen. Plus, Owen has hazel-green eyes, making this theory a bit more convincing.

“Back To December”
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Swift wrote “Back To December” about her 2009 relationship with Taylor Lautner. For a long time, fans speculated Lautner inspired the song, considering her lyrics reference his “tan skin” and “sweet smile” — plus, the line about “how you held me in your arms that September night / The first time you ever saw me cry” seems to reference Lautner hugging Swift after Kanye West interrupted her at the MTV Awards in September 2009. The Twilight actor confirmed that he inspired the song during a 2016 Facebook live, per Billboard.

“Speak Now”
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At first glance, Swift’s “Speak Now” song doesn’t seem to reference a specific person. In her album booklet, the code simply read: “You always regret what you don’t say.” However, fans have a theory that Swift wrote the song for her friend (and Paramore singer) Hayley Williams when Williams attended her high school boyfriend and Paramore bandmate Josh Farro’s wedding. The song describes attending an ex’s wedding and debating whether or not to interrupt the ceremony. The lyrics read, “I lose myself in a daydream / Where I stand and say / Don't say yes, run away now / I'll meet you when you're out of the church at the back door / Don't wait, or say a single vow / You need to hear me out / And they said, ‘Speak now.’”

“Dear John”
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Although Swift has never said so, fans believe “Dear John” is about her relationship with John Mayer. (To be fair, the song’s title does heavily imply it.) Mayer seems to think so, too. In a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, the singer said the song “humiliated” him and “made [him] feel terrible.”

Plus, the duo dated when Swift was only 19, something the lyrics point out: “Dear John, I see it all now, it was wrong / Don't you think nineteen's too young / To be played by your dark, twisted games when I loved you so?”

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In “Mean,” Swift sings about her critics — predicting that years from now they’ll still be “drunk and grumbling on about how I can't sing.” According to rumors, Swift was supposedly referring to critic Bob Lefsetz in the song. (Lefsetz wrote a scathing review of her 2010 Grammys performance with Stevie Nicks, claiming she killed her career in one night.) It was far from the only time he wrote about the singer. In March 2023, he dedicated another blog post to criticizing Swift’s Eras Tour tickets.

“The Story Of Us”
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Swift wrote “The Story Of Us” about running into her ex at an awards show. In her album booklet, she clued fans in that the award show in question was the CMT Awards. In 2010, she told USA Today that the song tells a personal story of "running into someone I had been in a relationship with at an awards show, and we were seated a few seats away from each other.” She added, “I just wanted to say to him, 'Is this killing you? Because it's killing me.' But I didn't. Because I couldn't. Because we both had these silent shields up.” Mayer and Swift were both performers at the 2010 CMT Awards.

She also let slip to USA Today that the same person who inspired “Dear John” also gave her the idea for this track, so it’s likely about a run-in with John Mayer.

“Never Grow Up”

Swift’s “Never Grow Up” is a personal song about growing pains, specifically when you move into your first adult apartment. It sounds like a song directed to her younger self, wishing that she enjoys her childhood. The lyrics read, “Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room / Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home / Remember the footsteps, remember the words said / And all your little brother's favorite songs / I just realized everything I have is someday gonna be gone.”

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Swift’s song “Enchanted” is about having that “wonderstruck” feeling when meeting someone new. In her album notes, she annotated the name Adam, hinting at her crush on Owl City’s Adam Young — though it’s never been confirmed the two actually dated. Young later responded with a cover of the song, changing the lyrics to reference Swift directly: “I was never in love with someone else / I never had somebody waiting on me / 'Cause you were all of my dreams come true / And I just wish you knew / Taylor, I was so in love with you.”

“Better Than Revenge”
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“Better Than Revenge” is widely believed to be about Camilla Belle, who dated Joe Jonas after Swift. In it, she sings about an “actress” who stole her boyfriend. In 2017, Swift gave an updated perspective on the song during an interview with The Guardian. “I was 18 when I wrote that,” she said. “That’s the age you are when you think someone can actually take your boyfriend. Then you grow up and realize no one take someone from you if they don’t want to leave.”

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Swift wrote “Innocent” for Kanye West, following his infamous interruption of her acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Awards. "I think a lot of people expected me to write a song about him,” she explained writing “Innocent,” per MTV. "But, for me, it was important to write a song to him." The lyrics include, “Who you are is not what you did / You're still an innocent.”


Swift has kept the inspiration behind “Haunted” private, and even the clue in her album booklet is vague: “Still to this day.” When she first released the song in 2010, Swift explained the song on her website, “'Haunted' is about the moment that you realize the person you're in love with is drifting and fading fast. And you don't know what to do, but in that period of time, in that phase of love, where it's fading out, time moves so slowly. Everything hinges on what that last text message said, and you're realizing that he's kind of falling out of love.”

“Last Kiss”
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Swift’s song “Last Kiss” about an unexpected breakup is widely believed by fans to be written for Joe Jonas after they dated in 2008. Swift chose the code words “Forever and always” for her Speak Now booklet, referencing the title of a song she wrote for Jonas on her Fearless album.

“Long Live”
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“Long Live” is a song Swift reportedly wrote for her fans and her team, wrapping up her Fearless tour at Gillette Stadium in 2010. In it, she sings, “If you have children someday / When they point to the pictures / Please tell them my name / Tell them how the crowds went wild / Tell them how I hope they shine.”


There aren’t many fan theories about Swift’s inspiration for “Ours,” but the singer has shared that she wrote it about a personal relationship that wasn’t exactly popular with her friends and family. “I wrote it about this guy that nobody thought I should be with, so I wrote this song specifically just to play it for him,” she said in an interview with VH1.

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“Superman” is rumored to be about Mayer since Swift linked the song lyrics to her code word for “Dear John.” In the album booklet, her secret message for “Dear John” is “Loved you from the very first day.” And in “Superman,” Swift sings, “He's not all bad like his reputation / And I can't hear one single word they said / And you leave, got places to be and I'll be okay / I always forget to tell you I love you / I loved you from the very first day.”

“Electric Touch (feat. Fall Out Boy)”

In vault track “Electric Touch,” Swift sings about falling for someone — still unsure how it’ll end. Swift doesn’t drop many clues about who it could be about, but she sings, “Got a feelin' your electric touch could fill this ghost town up with life.” This sounds a lot like a precursor to her lyrics in “Dear John,” which read, “But I took your matches before fire could catch me / So don't look now / I'm shining like fireworks over your sad empty town.” Could “Electric Touch” be an earlier version of Mayer in Swift’s eyes? It’s possible.

“When Emma Falls In Love”
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There are a few different theories surrounding Swift’s vault track “When Emma Falls In Love.” Ahead of the song’s release on July 7, fans pointed toward Swift and Emma Stone’s friendship as potential inspo behind the track. There’s not a ton to go off of here, but they were close around Speak Now’s original release, back when fans were obsessing over Stone’s relationship with Andrew Garfield.

Other fans think Swift might be referring to Jane Austen’s novel Emma. Swift previously opened up about being inspired by Sense and Sensibility (specifically, the movie featuring Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson) when creating her Evermore album.

“I Can See You”

Vault track “I Can See You” is the spiciest song on Swift’s re-released Speak Now, describing what sounds a lot like an illicit affair. “But what would you do if I went to touch you now? / What would you do if they never found us out? / What would you do if we never made a sound?” Swift sings. Unsurprisingly, there aren’t many clues about who inspired the track.

“Castles Crumbling (featuring Hayley Williams)”
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“Castles Crumbling” is one of the most emotional From the Vault tracks, focusing on Swift’s experience with fame. Considering the subject matter — public opinion turning against her — it could to be a reference to West’s infamous interruption, but it could also be an analysis of the volatility of public opinion. In it, she sings, “Used to cheer my name / now they’re screaming that they hate me.”

“Foolish One”

“Foolish One,” another vault track, doesn’t have a clear connection to any of Swift’s other Speak Now era exes, but it is reminiscent of one of her older songs: “Tell Me Why” from Fearless. In both, Swift talks about her failure to be “bulletproof.”

During the Fearless era, Swift explained the inspo behind “Tell Me Why”: “I'd been talking to a guy I've never ‘officially’ dated. Sometimes it's the hardest thing when you have all these dreams of dating them, and you're getting close, but it doesn't work out. He would say things that would make me go, ‘Did you just say that?’ It bothered me so much because he would say one thing and do another, do one thing and say another. Because he didn't know what he wanted, he would just play all these mind games.”


Swift released a lyric video for her new vault song “Timeless,” featuring photos of her grandparents. The gist of the song? Some love transcends time — and some people are meant to find each other in every life.

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