Ronan (song)

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Cover art of "Ronan", showing texts on a black background
Single by Taylor Swift
ReleasedSeptember 8, 2012 (2012-09-08)
GenreSoft rock
LabelBig Machine
  • Taylor Swift
  • Maya Thompson
Producer(s)Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift singles chronology
"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"
"Begin Again"

"Ronan" is a charity single by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released as an iTunes-exclusive download on September 8, 2012, through Big Machine Records. The lyrics are based on a blog by Phoenix-resident Maya Thompson about her three-year-old son Ronan, who died from neuroblastoma in 2011. Swift wrote and produced the song by putting together quotes from the blog, crediting Maya Thompson as co-writer. All proceeds from sales of the single were donated for charity causes to raise awareness of and fight against cancer.

Musically, "Ronan" is a soft rock ballad instrumented by a sole finger-picked guitar with occasional piano tunes and minimal drum brushes. Music critics have lauded the song artistically, deeming it a prime example of Swift's abilities as a singer-songwriter to evoke vivid emotional sentiments through her songwriting.[1][2][3][4] The single peaked at number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. A re-recorded version, "Ronan (Taylor's Version)", was included in Swift's 2021 album Red (Taylor's Version), a re-recording of her 2012 studio album.


Swift wrote the song after reading Maya Thompson's blog. Thompson is the mother of three-year-old Ronan Thompson, who died in 2011 of neuroblastoma.[5] He had been treated at Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children's Hospital. Maya began writing in August 2010 when Ronan was diagnosed and she continued penning her entries in the blog Rockstar Ronan during the nine months that Ronan suffered from the illness before dying in May 2011, just three days before his fourth birthday. Maya worked through her grief by continuing the blog, writing letters to her late son whilst raising money and awareness for childhood cancer causes.[6]

The pair met in October 2011, when Swift invited Maya to her concert at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. She wrote about her reaction when Taylor told her that she'd penned the song inspired by her blog entries; addressing her late son, Thompson said that her calmness "...soon turned to complete and utter frozen shock when these words came out of her mouth: 'I wrote a song for Ronan.' The tears started pouring down my cheeks as soon as I heard her say those words. But her words didn't stop there. Not only did she write a song for you, but she wanted to know if it would be alright to perform it on the nationally televised Stand Up to Cancer show..."[7] Swift credits Thompson as the co-writer of the song. It was released to the US iTunes Store shortly after the Stand Up to Cancer telethon ended, and all proceeds of the single go towards cancer charities.[8]

Composition and reception[edit]

Mark Hogan of Spin magazine describes "Ronan" as a soft rock ballad.[9] Swift wrote and produced the song based on the blog entries by co-writer Maya Thompson.[7]

"Ronan" received universal acclaim from critics. Rolling Stone called the song "heartbreaking".[10] Bill Dukes of Taste of Country wrote: "It was clear [Swift] was just the voice for Maya Thompson..."[11] Ed Masley of The Arizona Republic said that "'Ronan' may very well be [Swift's] finest hour as an artist."[12] Thompson herself, in a 2012 interview with MTV, recalled her experience listening to Swift's live rendition at Stand Up to Cancer: "Listening to it was very emotional and I was blown away by how she got it. She got it in a way that most people don't. She took the time to take the intimate parts of things I'd written and put them into the song."[13] Thompson's portion of the proceeds from her co-writing credit went to her Ronan Thompson Foundation.[13]

Commercial performance[edit]

"Ronan" was downloaded 220,000 times in its first week, debuting at number 2 on the Digital Song Sales chart. The song was blocked by Swift's own song "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" from the top spot. On the Billboard Hot 100, the song peaked at number 16.[14] It also peaked at number 34 on the Hot Country Songs chart.

Live performances[edit]

Swift first performed the song live for Stand Up to Cancer in September 2012,[15] and has only performed it publicly one other time, when Maya Thompson attended the Glendale, Arizona stop of The 1989 World Tour on August 17, 2015.[16]


Weekly chart performance for "Ronan"
Chart (2012) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[17] 16
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[18] 34


Certifications for "Ronan"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[19] Gold 500,000*

* Sales figures based on certification alone.

"Ronan (Taylor's Version)"[edit]

"Ronan (Taylor's Version)"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the album Red (Taylor's Version)
ReleasedNovember 12, 2021 (2021-11-12)
GenreSoft rock
  • Taylor Swift
  • Maya Thompson
Lyric video
"Ronan (Taylor's Version)" on YouTube

Swift re-recorded "Ronan", subtitled "(Taylor's Version)", for her second re-recorded album, Red (Taylor's Version), released on November 12, 2021, through Republic Records.[20] Prior to the re-recording, Thompson confirmed she had granted Swift permission.[21] A lyric video for the track was confirmed through Thompson via Twitter on November 11, 2021, the day before the album was released.[22] The video contains images and home video footage of Ronan with Thompson, provided to Swift by Thompson herself.[23][24]

I've recently completed the re-recording of my 4th album, Red. It's really exceeded my expectations in so many ways, and one of those ways is that I thought it would be appropriate to add "Ronan" to this album. Red was an album of heartbreak and healing, of rage and rawness, of tragedy and trauma, and of the loss of an imagined future alongside someone. I wrote "Ronan" while I was making Red and discovered your story as you so honestly and devastatingly told it. My genuine hope is that you'll agree with me that this song should be included on this album. As my co-writer and the rightful owner of this story in its entirety, your opinion and approval of this idea really matters to me, and I'll honor your wishes here.

— An excerpt from Swift's letter to Thompson[25]


Chart performance for "Ronan (Taylor's Version)"
Chart (2021) Peak
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[26] 88
Global 200 (Billboard)[27] 142
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[28] 9
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[29] 42

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Unterberger, Andrew (November 9, 2017). "Why Taylor Swift's 'Ronan' Is Her Best Song Never to Appear on an Album: Critic's Take". Billboard. Retrieved September 14, 2022.
  2. ^ "Why Does Taylor Swift Write So Many One-Note Melodies?". BBC News. November 8, 2017. Archived from the original on February 8, 2022. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  3. ^ Sheffield, Rob (October 26, 2021). "'Ronan' (2012)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 15, 2022.
  4. ^ Petridis, Alexis (April 26, 2019). "Taylor Swift's Singles – Ranked". The Guardian. Archived from the original on April 27, 2019. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  5. ^ Pacella, Megan (September 7, 2012). "Taylor Swift to 'Stand Up to Cancer' With Song for 4-Year-Old Lost to Neuroblastoma". Taste of Country. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  6. ^ "Ronan by Taylor Swift Songfacts". September 7, 2012. Archived from the original on October 18, 2016. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Hey Maya, it's Taylor Swift..." September 9, 2012. Archived from the original on October 11, 2016. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  8. ^ "Taylor Swift to debut song for cancer victim". MSN. Microsoft. September 7, 2012. Archived from the original on December 13, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  9. ^ Hogan, Mark (September 10, 2012). "Taylor Swift Debuts Tear-Jerking 'Ronan' at Cancer Benefit". Spin. Archived from the original on May 27, 2015. Retrieved May 27, 2015. Swift's soft-rock ballad "Ronan," inspired by a Phoenix mother's heartfelt blog post ...
  10. ^ "Taylor Swift Debuts 'Ronan' at Stand Up To Cancer Benefit". Rolling Stone. September 8, 2012. Archived from the original on September 13, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
  11. ^ Dukes, Billy (September 7, 2012). "Taylor Swift's 'Ronan,' Tim McGraw's 'Live Like You Were Dying' Highlight Emotional 'Stand Up to Cancer' Telethon". Taste of Country. Archived from the original on November 8, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
  12. ^ Masley, Ed (September 9, 2012). "Taylor Swift song 'Ronan' for Phoenix boy an artistic high". The Republic. AZ Central. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
  13. ^ a b Kaufman, Gil (September 14, 2012). "Mother Says Taylor Swift's 'Ronan' Tribute Song Got It '100 Percent Right'". MTV News. Archived from the original on September 15, 2022. Retrieved September 14, 2022.
  14. ^ Trust, Gary (September 12, 2012). "Taylor Swift's 'Never' Is Hot 100's Longest-Leading Country Song Since 1980". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 21, 2020. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  15. ^ "Taylor Swift to debut song, 'Ronan', on 'Stand Up to Cancer' telethon in honor of 3-year-old victim". New York Daily News. Associated Press. September 7, 2012. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  16. ^ Biedenharn, Isabella (August 19, 2015). "Taylor Swift sings 'Ronan' and honors woman whose son died of cancer". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on April 7, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
  17. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  18. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  19. ^ "American single certifications – Taylor Swift – Ronan". Recording Industry Association of America.
  20. ^ Al-Heeti, Abrar (November 11, 2021). "Red (Taylor's Version): Release date, tracklist, why Taylor Swift is rerecording her albums". CNET. Archived from the original on November 20, 2021. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  21. ^ Ushe, Naledi (July 31, 2021). "Taylor Swift Song 'Ronan' Will Be on Her Remastered Red Album; 'I Cried' Ronan's Mother Says". People. Archived from the original on July 31, 2021. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  22. ^ Mama Maya [@rockstarronan] (November 11, 2021). "This is how I'll be all day. I just listened AND watched Ronan, Taylor's version. I couldn't tell you about the music video until now. It is beyond perfection and I can't wait for you all to see it. @taylorswift13 You are one of the greatest loves of my life. TY for loving him" (Tweet). Retrieved November 13, 2021 – via Twitter.
  23. ^ Bowenbank, Starr (November 12, 2021). "Taylor Swift Releases Touching Tribute Lyric Video 'Ronan' With Permission From Family". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  24. ^ VanHoose, Benjamin (November 12, 2021). "Taylor Swift's 'Ronan': Mom of Late Boy Who Inspired Song Tearfully Reacts to 'Perfect' New Video". People. Archived from the original on September 15, 2022. Retrieved September 14, 2022.
  25. ^ Iasimone, Ashley (July 30, 2021). "'Ronan' Finds a Home on Taylor Swift's Re-Recorded 'Red' Album". Billboard. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  26. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  27. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Global 200)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  28. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  29. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2021.

External links[edit]