One year ago, John Mayer kvetched to Rolling Stone about the "humiliation" he suffered over "Dear John," Taylor Swift's unflattering ode to their rumored late 2009/early 2010 fling. "It made me feel terrible," he said of the song. "Because I didn't deserve it. I'm pretty good at taking accountability now, and I never did anything to deserve that. It was a really lousy thing for her to do."
And what better way to take accountability than to write an answer song. He drops enough clues in his new ditty, "Paper Doll," for amateur sleuths to conclude that it is indeed about the confessional chart-topper.
Take this passage: "You're like 22 girls in one / And none of them know what they're runnin' from / Was it just too far to fall? / For a little paper doll."
Swift, of course, recently released the breezy tune "22." And in "Dear John," she notes, "I'll look back in regret/ How I ignored when they said, 'Run as fast as you can.'"
Mayer also mentions "a dress of gold and blue," a possible nod to this "Dear John" line: "The girl in the dress cried the whole way home/ I should've known."
The kicker comes toward the end of "Paper Doll," when he croons about how "someone's gonna paint you another sky." In "Dear John," Swift bleats, "You paint me a blue sky/ And go back and turn it to rain.
In short, Taylor got off pretty easy ("Paper Doll" isn't exactly "You're So Vain," after all), although this is probably a good time to point out that Mayer scoffed that "Dear John" was "cheap songwriting. ... It's abusing your talent to rub your hands together and go, 'Wait till he gets a load of this!' That's bulls---."
Hypocrisy or good marketing? You be the judge.
Taylor, for her part, has said all's fair in love and songwriting.
"If I'm gonna write songs about my exes, they can write songs about me," she shrugged earlier this year. "That's how it works. I'm not gonna complain about it. I'm not gonna sit there and say, 'I'm the only one who can write songs about this relationship.' It's fair game."
Mayer, meanwhile, appears to be making an effort to keep things lighthearted, whatever the source material.