John Mayer Reflects On 'Paper Doll' Lyrics, His 2013 Song Rumored To Be About Ex Taylor Swift

Dani Sanders
John Mayer posing for the camera with a guitar
Getty | Jason Kempin


A lot of people express their feelings differently, and artists are mostly with their songs. John Mayer's song was rumored to be about ex-Taylor Swift. Is this true? Let's find out as we take a trip down memory lane. 


John Mayer Opens Up About What Inspired The Lyrics 

John Mayer playing guitar
Giphy | John Mayer

Ten years after slamming Taylor Swift  for dumping and humiliating him through his “Dear John song” in 2010, John Mayer told fans at a concert recently that his apparent response track came from a place of hurt.

What Went Down Between John Mayer And Taylor Swift?

Taylor Swift dancing at MTV Video Music Awards
Giphy | 2022 MTV Video Music Awards

2009 was a great time to be alive as John and Taylor were romantically involved and unapologetic about it. The two had an age difference of 13 years, but it wasn't going to stop them. Taylor was 19 years old, while John was 32 years old at the time. 

It All Came Crashing A Year After 

Taylor Swift screaming

In February 2010, the lovebirds couldn't nest together as the pair split. A few months into it, Taylor confirmed breakup rumors by releasing a song titled “Dear John” on her third studio album tagged “Speak Now.”

How Does The Song Confirm Breakup Rumors?

Taylor Swift featuring in a video for Apple Music
Giphy | Apple Music

Aside from the fact that artists draw inspiration from life happening around them, the song talked about her life, her age, and her disposition toward the relationship.

See The Lyrics Of The Song


“Dear John, I see it all, now it was wrong / Don't you think 19 is too young / To be played by your dark twisted games, when I loved you so? / I should've known.”

The Chorus Of The Song Further Confirms The Suspicion

Taylor Swift at iHeartRadio
Giphy | iHeartRadio

Chorus: "Dear John, I see it all now that you’re gone. Don't you think I was too young to be messed with? The girl in the dress cried the whole way home…"

John Broke The Silence 

John Mayer performing at GRAMMYs
Giphy | Recording Academy / GRAMMYs

A couple of years later, John criticized the song publicly telling Rolling Stone that it shamed him and made him feel terrible.

John Calls Taylor Swift's Attempt To Let Out Her Feelings Lousy

Taylor Swift at The Voice
Giphy | The Voice

According to John, Taylor's attempt at expressing her breakup in songs was a lousy thing to do. “I never got an email. I never got a phone call. I was really caught off guard.”

John Calls The Song A Cheap Attempt At Throwing Bullsh*t 

I will say as a songwriter that I think it’s kind of cheap songwriting,” he continued. “I know she’s the biggest thing in the world, and I’m not trying to sink anybody’s ship, but I think it’s abusing your talent to rub your hands together and go, ‘Wait till he gets a load of this!’ That’s bullsh*t.”


If You Can’t Beat Them Join Them

John Mayer performing at an event

A year later, after John gave his 1 cent about Taylor’s way of going through heartbreak, John ostensibly retaliated at Taylor Swift by releasing a diss track of his own titled “Paper Doll” which was the lead single of his sixth studio album, “Paradise Valley.”

Why Do People Assume It Was A Clapback To Taylor’s “Dear John?”

A giphy of Taylor Swift saying NO

John Mayer’s song was interpreted to be about his relationship with Taylor as it covers a lot of responses to questions asked in “Dear John" lyrics.

What Do You Mean?

Taylor Swift performing at MTV Video Music Awards
Giphy | 2022 MTV Video Music Awards

For instance, in Taylor Swift’s song, she wrote, “you paint me a blue sky then go back and turn it to rain.” And in “Paper Doll,” John sings, “and if those angel wings don’t fly, someone’s going to paint you another sky.” Taylor Swift also said in Dear John that, “And I look back in regret at how I ignored them when they said / ‘Run as fast as you can.” John responded to this allegation in the Paper Doll song saying “You’re like 22 girls in one / And none of them know what they’re running from” — which is also an apparent reference to her hit song “22.”

Fans Demand An Apology From John 

In light of what he said about Taylor’s songs in the past calling the lyrics “cheap” and also because he is the older one, fans have long condemned him for singing Paper Doll and advised him to be the bigger person and apologize.

John Is Filled With Regret 

John Mayer acting shocked
Giphy | John Mayer

Till today, John still expresses regret over recording the track. Reminiscing in a concert in Sacramento on April 8, John revealed that he sounded a “bit pissed off” in the song.

Here Is The Chorus Of John’s Paper Doll Song

A giphy of John Mayer for BuzzFeed
Giphy | BuzzFeed


You’re like twenty-two girls in one/ And none of them know what they’re running from/ Was it just too far to fall/ For a little paper doll.

John Wonders Why People Don’t Like The Song


John wonders why his fans and listeners don't like his diss track because he sounds a little pissed off. He says in a video as he strums the song's intro on his guitar. 

The Song Came From A Place Of Hurt

John Mayer performing with a fellow singer
Giphy | Recording Academy / GRAMMYs

“I don’t really like ‘pissed off,’”  John revealed, and also added that “hurt” was a more suitable terminology to depict where the song came from. However, John then admitted that “there’s something about it that’s a little b*tchy.”

John Accepts The Song Was A Diss

John Mayer featuring in a video for Apple Music
Giphy | Apple Music

John says he doesn't like to throw b*tchiness around in his songs but it can sometimes happen, and went on to describe the track vibe as a “sarcastic b*tch.”

Fans Feel John Didn’t Take Taylor Swift Seriously

Taylor Swift at an award show

Some fans feel John is taking the matter too lightly, unlike Taylor Swift who addressed the relationship again in her 2022 song.