In “Heartbreak Warfare,” everything is on the level. Taylor Swift is known for leaving hints about her famous ex-boyfriends in the lyrics of her songs, and John Mayer was quick to pick up on the hints.
After collaborating on Mayer’s hit “Half of My Heart” in 2009 and 2010, the songwriters became bonded. Swift told Elle at the time that she’d “been such a big fan of John for such a long time” and that she was “very excited” to collaborate with the critically acclaimed artist.
Mayer’s Battle Studies, released in 2009, featured their duet. However, by the next year, everything appeared to be going south.
Swift wrote “Dear John” in 2010, a not-so-subtle breakup anthem about a romance with an older guy. (Mayer was 32 and the Pennsylvania native was 19 when they were thought to be dating.)
“Dear John, I see it all now, it was all 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,” she sings, leading Swift fans to believe she was referring to the “Daughters” singer.
Elsewhere in the track, Swift reflects, “Well maybe it’s me and my blind optimism to blame / Maybe it’s you and your sick need to give love then take it away / And you’ll add my name to your long list of traitors who don’t understand / And I’ll look back and regret how I ignored when they said ‘run as fast as you can.’”
Mayer was linked to Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jessica Simpson, Minka Kelly, and Jennifer Aniston before his brief relationship with the “Cardigan” singer. He was also embroiled in a slew of scandals, including comparing Simpson to “sexual napalm” and using the N-word in a 2010 Playboy interview. (Since then, he has apologized.)
Swift hasn’t spoken much about her relationship with Mayer, but the “Assassin” singer didn’t hold back when it came to how “Dear John” made him feel. He told Rolling Stone in 2012 that the lyrics “humiliated” him, calling it “cheap songwriting” to make a clear reference to an ex. The next year, on his song “Paper Doll,” which fans say is about the CMA Award winner, he appeared to do something similar.
Mayer later told pal Andy Cohen that he’d be “jazzed” if his exes continued to write about him, despite his initial displeasure at being used as Swift’s muse.
“Every now and then, I hope it’s about me.” In February 2021, the singer of “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” commented, “It’s a pretty good song sometimes.” “I don’t believe it’s a dishonest acknowledgment.” Occasionally, a song is so good that I think to myself, ‘Man, I hope that’s about me.’ I’ll listen to everyone’s songs. “I’m a big fan.”
“Waking up to this song concept that won’t leave my mind,” the “Perfectly Lonely” crooner tweeted, comparing Swift to songwriting legend Stevie Nicks. Now it’s been three days in a row. That signifies it’s ready to be finished. Half of My Heart is the song, and I’d like to sing it alongside Taylor Swift. In contrast to my Tom Petty song, she would make a fantastic Stevie Nicks.”
Miss Americana’s star told Elle at the time that she “freaked out” when she saw the post. She described herself as a “huge fan” of Mayer and stated, “I’m incredibly pleased about the thought that he would even mention me in his Twitter!”
“Half of My Heart,” a song they wrote together, was included on Mayer’s Grammy-nominated fourth album, Battle Studies.