John Mayer reflects on ‘Paper Doll’ – believed to be about Taylor Swift

John Mayer has reflected upon his song ‘Paper Doll’, which is believed to have been written about Taylor Swift.

The lyrics of the decade-old song were brought into the spotlight again after Mayer performed the track during a concert in Sacramento, California, on Saturday (April 8) — the same day that rumours emerged that Taylor Swift called it quits with boyfriend of six years, Joe Alwyn.

When the track was first released, some fans criticised the singer and guitarist for his lyrics and speculated that they were written about Swift after the two split. However, Mayer has never stated that the song was aimed at the ‘Anti-Hero’ singer.


In clips recorded at last week’s gig, Mayer explains that the “sarcastic” and “bitchy” lyrics in the song were misunderstood by fans, and that the track was written from a place of “hurt” rather than anger.

“I wonder if people don’t like it because it sounds a little pissed off. I don’t really like ‘pissed off.’ … I think it was more ‘hurt,’” he said to the crowd at the Golden 1 Centre.

“But is there something about it that’s a little bitchy? There might be,” he continued. “I try not to get bitchiness in the songs, and it happens sometimes. … I guess I don’t do it very well, ‘sarcastic bitchy.’”


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Upon its release in 2013, fans believed that the track was a response to ‘Dear John’ – a song released by Taylor Swift in 2010 after the pair’s relationship came to an end. The track appeared to recall that she had received warnings about a past lover, and was urged to “run as fast as you can.

In 2012, Mayer criticised the pop icon for the “humiliating” lyrics mentioned in the track in an interview with Rolling Stone.


The following year, he released the aforementioned song, which included the line: “You’re like 22 girls in one / and none of them know what they’re running from.” However, in a 2019 Instagram live video, he later told fans that although “100 per cent of the people believed it was about somebody,” the lyrics were “not about that person”.

Currently, Mayer is at the tail end of his ongoing solo acoustic tour, taking place across North America and Canada. The tour kicked off in New Jersey on March 11 and has seen the musician perform in cities including New York, Nashville, Toronto and Chicago. His last scheduled performance will take place tomorrow (April 14), at Los Angeles’ Kia Forum.

John Mayer
John Mayer. Credit: Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images

Elsewhere, Taylor Swift is currently underway with her ‘Eras’ tour – her first headline concert tour since 2018.

In a countdown of the top five moments from her performance in Arizona on March 17, NME praised the musician for her “clever” stage visuals, each of which depicted a different era of her career.

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