No Doubt Tells All: The Stories Behind Their Classic Records

"Don't Speak" (1995)

Album: Tragic Kingdom
Label: Trauma/Interscope
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Tony: “We had so many different versions of that song prior to the one we had recorded for Tragic Kingdom. We had been playing different versions of that song at shows during those years. What you hear is probably like the third or fourth version of it. We just kept working on it. I think when Gwen and I were breaking up, the lyrics then became just about our break up. Because it was so real, and we were living it, all that stuff came up in that song. That’s the real deal. That’s our lives, and that’s what was happening to us at that time. It was a very, very intense period of our lives, and it was all put out there to share with everybody. [Laughs]"

“It was definitely a challenge for both of us. The hardest part about that was having a massive record that sells 15 million copies worldwide, and then you’re traveling around the world and you’re doing press in all these different countries, and every single question that you have to answer is about the break up. You do that for a couple years, and it could drive anyone crazy. That was just as crazy as what we were really living. The fact that we got through all that stuff and we persevered through all that is a real testament to our friendship. I think it’s also a testament to how much the band means to us. We didn’t let it break us up as a band, and we just kept going and it made us stronger.”

Adrian:
“We had that song for a long time before we recorded Tragic Kingdom. But it was different—there was another section, a b-part after the verse, before the chorus. When we went in to record it for Tragic Kingdom, it was suggested to us that we make the song shorter, so we lost an entire section that happened twice in the song. There’s probably a version of it out there somewhere on one of our demos. That took a little bit getting used to. I definitely know that we’ve played it something like 3000 times in our lives. This version feels right."

Tom:
There’s a lot of stories about that song, because that one unfolded over a longer period of time. Originally, Gwen’s brother wrote most of that song, and then after we got at it as a band, Gwen changed the lyrics around to fit her life. Musically, we brought it to another level, but near the end we reworded it. There’s an earlier version of the song where the verses are totally different, which is a really beautiful version and it’s awesome but it’s way more jazzy and really different. That song had a long incubation process."

“I remember being in Europe and we’d get charts and sales reports, and ‘Don’t Speak’ had been number one in the US for eight weeks, and it’s been number one in this country and that country. They gave us a list where the song was number one around the world and we couldn’t believe it. We had the number one album for a couple of weeks leading into Christmas of that year and it was just crazy. It was a year into the album and we just kept going and kept touring."

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