"Speechless" is song written and performed by Lady Gaga on her third album, The Fame Monster (2009). The song was written by Gaga to convince her father, Joseph Germanotta, to undergo open-heart surgery, in order to repair his malfunctioning aortic valve, and as a reminder for her younger fans to appreciate their parents. "Speechless" is described as Gaga's "Fear of Death Monster" (MTV, 2009)
"Speechless" debuted at the 30th anniversary celebration for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles on November 14, 2009 with the Bolshoi Ballet and directed by Francesco Vezzoli. A preview of this song was released through Gaga Daily, and the full version of the song leaked on November 17, 2009. She also mentioned in an interview on The Billy Bush Show (October 30, 2009), that she wanted "Speechless" to be released as a single. However, it was not chosen as a single for the album promotion in 2009–2011.
Writing and recording
Gaga explained in an interview with MTV that her father, Joseph Germanotta, had a heart condition for approximately fifteen years. She explained, "He has or he had a bad aortic valve, and his body for a very long time was only pumping a third of the blood that you're supposed to get every time his heart beat." Instead of seeking treatment, her dad decided to just live his life. But everything changed while Gaga was on the road opening for The Pussycat Dolls. "So he [was] resigned that he wasn't going to get the surgery and told my mother and I that he was going to let his life take its course," she explained. "And I've been away and on the road and he started to fade when I was gone."
|“||My mom called me and I was very depressed. I was on tour and I couldn't leave, so I went into the studio and I wrote this song 'Speechless,' and it's about these phone calls. My dad used to call me after he'd had a few drinks and I wouldn't know what to say. I was speechless and I just feared that I would lose him and I wouldn't be there.||”|
—Gaga to MTV, November 23, 2009
She wrote the song in May 2009 in Australia when her father's condition was getting worse and sent it to him as a plea to get the open-heart surgery. She was even willing to give up her music career in order to take care of her mother and sister. On October 22. 2009, Gaga confirmed via Twitter that her father had undergone the surgery. "My Daddy had open-heart surgery today. And after long hours, and lots of tears, they healed his broken heart, and mine. Speechless."
She explained to New York's Z100 radio station on October 27, 2009, that she hoped the song would inspire her younger fans to appreciate their parents. "I have a lot of fans who are really lovely, young, troubled fans, but I want to remind them that you only get one set of parents." she said. In one concert during The Monster Ball Tour (2009–2011), she revealed that "Speechless" was her favorite song from The Fame Monster out of all the tracks.
"Speechless" was performed the first time during the Ballet Russe Italian Style (The Shortest Musical You Will Never See Again) on November 14, 2009. It was also performed at various high profile events such as the 2009 American Music Awards (2009), The Oprah Winfrey Show (2010), the 52nd Grammy Award Ceremony (2010) with Sir Elton John and Coachella (2017). It also debuted on tour with The Monster Ball Tour (2009–2011).
Depending on the audience, Gaga sang a different version, the album "clean" version or the "explicit" version. In the explicit version, the lyrics "And is your punch line just a joke?" is replaced with "And is your drunk line just a joke?", and "Of all my wrecked up friends" with "Of all my fucked up friends". Typical renditions of the song start on the piano and switch with the band after the first chorus.
Although it has not been released as a single, "Speechless" have the most live performances than any of non-single songs from the album.
- The open-heart surgery that inspired the song, also inspired a scene in the Puke Film (2009) shown at The Monster Ball Tour in 2010–2011. The scene shows Gaga taking a bite of a bovine heart while also crying blood.
- The demo have a different vocal delivery and features only piano and guitar. The main lyrics differences are "Oh friend" changed to "Oh boy" and that there is no verse starting with "And I know that it’s complicated/But I’m a loser in love". The ending also have "huh-uh" during two verses instead of lyrics. The song structure is also different during some parts in the demo.
- Although unrelated, one of "Speechless" line, "I'll Never Love Again", is also the name of a song sang by Ally Maine (Gaga) in the musical romantic drama film A Star Is Born (2018).
|Instrumentation and arrangement||Lady Gaga, Ron Fair|
|Drums||Abraham Laboriel Jr.|
|All guitars||John Louis Goux|
|Recorded||Record Plant (Los Angeles, California, )|
|Recording engineers||Tal Herzberg, Frank Wolf|
|Assistant recording engineers||Ryan Kennedy, Tal Oz, Joe Cory|
|Mixing engineer||Jack Joseph Puig|
- The Fame Monster booklet
- BMI | Repertoire Search
- MTV News
- PopJustice Review