"Don't Speak" was released as the third single from the band's third album Tragic Kingdom (1995) in 1996. The song is presumed to be about the break up of Gwen Stefani's seven-year relationship with group bassist Tony Kanal.
Despite the song's popularity, "Don't Speak" did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 (as rules of the times required commercial singles for charting and one was not issued for the song), but it did reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay and stayed for sixteen weeks. The song also reached number one in the UK, New Zealand, Netherlands, and Australia. The single is No Doubt's most successful international single, propelling them to superstardom. "Don't Speak" is arguably No Doubt's biggest hit and was nominated for the Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal at the Grammy Awards of 1998.
The song was co-written by Eric Stefani and Gwen Stefani and co-produced by Matthew Wilder. "Don't Speak" went through several rewrites. A live version that exists from April 1994 shows off a bouncy tune that has the same skeleton as the released version, but not the same urgency. A demo version also appeared on a demo CD, which was presented to Interscope Records prior to the release of the Tragic Kingdom CD. Part of the song was performed on VH1 Storytellers on 10 August 2000. These lyrics are from before Tony and Gwen broke up, while the final lyrics that ended up on the album were after the break up.
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