The history behind Taylor Swift's "Dear John" lyrics

Taylor Swift writes beautiful songs about every stage of a relationship and, of course, life itself. But when you need to cry (or drive away) over something particularly devastating, there are a few choice songs that fans often recommend. "All Too Well," for example, juxtaposes cozy, romantic memories with the raw reality of a breakup that still stings. The rumored Jake Gyllenhaal ballad gets even more divine in Swifties after getting the 10-minute treatment on "Red" ( Taylor's version ).

Of course, if you've been following Swift for a while, you'll know that there's another tune that predates "All Too Well" and matches its lyrical style: "Dear John." There are many legends about this too. So, who is Dear John about? If you need a timely refresher on "Speak Now" ( Taylor's version ), here it is!

Swift is known for "never saying the name" in her songs, and to her credit, "Dear John" is actually a generic nickname for a letter you send someone when you break up with them ( Rooted in wartime traditions) ). But conveniently, John is also the name of the man most people think the song is about: John Mayer. Swift never confirmed this, nor did she actually confirm dating the "Gravity" singer, but they collaborated when Swift was 19 (Mayer was 32) and were later briefly linked.

John Mayer and Taylor Swift, 2009. Dimitrios Kabouris/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Of course, nineteen is the age Swift reflects in the song—the song was dropped when she was 20, so the event she's singing about can't be too far away. "Dear John, I see now that this was wrong/ Don't you think 19 is too young/ to be played by your dark, twisted games/ when I love you so much?"

Swift went on to sing that the recipient of her musical missive was an "expert at apologizing and keeping lines blurred." Throughout the song, she blames herself for not getting into the relationship at all, saying, "I should have known better." But after crossing the bridge, she flips the script, telling the recipient, " You should have known. "

This is where the legend of "Dear John" becomes richer. Twelve years later, on Midnight's "Would've, Could've, Should've," Swift sang another touching song about a relationship she had when she was 19, which she brought to life. A relationship is the equivalent of "dancing with the devil." While Swift "would've" or "could've" means many things, the word "should've" only appears when the song title is sung. This has led to a popular theory that the missing "should" is in "Dear John."

Mayer himself commented on Dear John — spoiler alert, he's not a fan. "It makes me feel bad," he told Rolling Stone in 2012, "because I don't deserve it. I'm pretty good at taking responsibility now, but I've never done anything to deserve it. And that's to her It's such a bad thing." He also dismissed the song, one of Swift's highly regarded Track 5, as "cheap songwriting."

"I know she's the biggest thing in the world, and I'm not trying to sink anyone's ship, but I think it's an abuse of your talent, rubbing your hands together and saying, 'Wait till he gets this!' That's bullshit, "Mayer said.

Swift told Glamor magazine that same year that Mayer was "presumptuous" in saying the song was about him. “I never reveal who my songs are about.”

More than a decade later, Swift still hasn't confirmed the theme of "Dear John." But she knew her fans had their theories — and preemptively asked them to be nice when Talk Now ( Taylor's Edition ) came out. "I'm not putting this album out so that you guys... feel the need to defend me on the internet against you guys who think I might have written a song about 14 billion years ago when I was 19," she plays It was previously said that on June 24, "Dear John" became the secret song of the Eras Tour. We have all grown up. we are doing well. "