So at what point did you know the album was done? There was a moment when I knew this album was done. It was when I’d written a song called “Story of Us.” I knew I needed to talk about that part of that relationship in particular, and the pain it causes you. So that’s when I put it down and knew I’d written everything for this album.
That's a sad song, yet it sounds joyous: I think it’s fun to write songs where the way the music sounds is different than what the lyrics say. Like the song "Speak Now" is about a dramatic situation where you’re interrupting a wedding where your ex-boyfriend is about to get married, and you crash into the whole thing, make this speech in front of everyone, and they’re horrified that you’re there, but it’s said with an uptempo kind of glint of the eye. I like the juxtaposition of a happy skippy melody and a sinister lyric.
Why did you title the album Speak Now? For me, calling the album Speak Now comes from the song Speak Now, which is based on the moment in wedding when they say “speak now or forever hold your peace.” And I think that’s a metaphor for a lot of situations we find ourselves in life, where we wait to say how we feel until it’s almost too late.
Talk about song #13: The song Last Kiss is one of the most personal songs I’ve ever written. It talks about completely reminiscing on a relationship, almost like the last email you’ll write but never send, it’s the most desperate of desperate songs I’ve written. You wish you could say “I miss everything about you that you didn’t know I noticed. Why is this over?” So it’s a gut-wrenching song, and pretty fitting that it’s song #13.
You wrote a song on the last album for winning Horizon Award. So was there a song on this album for winning entertainer? There is a song called Long Live, the last song on the album, and it’s a song to my crew who did this with me, the fans, all the people I jumped up and down with in the last 2 years. It makes references to Grammy night, CMA night, and talks about how I feel about all of those accomplishments. It deals with it from every angle, like you never know if it’ll ever happen again, so celebrate it. That’s an important song for me and a reason why it’s last.
You recently did a songwriter benefit for Hall of Fame, why did you do a benefit for them? Country Music Hall of Fame has always been important to me, because the history of country music matters. The fact that people can come to Nashville and be reminded of that, it’s something that’s fascinating to me. Also, selfishly getting to be in the room with Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, and Lionel Ritchie, it wasn’t hard to talk me into that. I remember being blown away with how authentic those people were. Talking about life and music, Kris Kristofferson blows me away, so much wisdom. I love Lionel, the background on my phone now is a picture of us giving each other a high five.
The photos, the cover, what’s the story: Doing the photo shoot for the album booklet is important because I want to visualize all the songs on the record. There are songs that conjure a visual, and I’m excited for people to see the booklet, because there are pictures that pretty clearly show what each song is about. The cover image is one I chose because there’s a look on my face that I’m about to say something. I like to show movement, like on the last album with my hair, and this time it’s movement in my dress, like a painting, and that’s a theme on the entire album. It’s a striking purple, I like that color and I’m glad it’s on my album