Dear John, Swifties are convinced a bonus track on Taylor Swift‘s new album Midnights is about a certain older, guitar-playing ex-boyfriend from 13 years ago. P.S., the lyrics are not very flattering.
The 32-year-old pop star shocked fans who were already reeling from the 12 a.m. ET release of Midnights Friday (Oct. 21) by announcing at 3 a.m. that she was immediately adding seven bonus tracks to the album’s main 13. True to form, Swifties devoured each new song — before noticing that one of them, “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” tasted a little bitter.
That’s because its lyrics are seasoned with references to an age-gap relationship that went down when Swift was 19 years old. And who did the singer-songwriter publicly date in 2009 when she was that age? John Mayer, who was 32 at the time.
“I damn sure would’ve never danced with the devil at 19,” she sings on the four-minute track. “Now that I’m grown, I’m scared of ghosts / Memories feel like weapons.”
“And if I was some paint, did it splatter on a promising grown man?/ And if I was a child did it matter if you got to wash your hands?” she sings in one of the verses. And then during the bridge, “Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first.”
Billboard has reached out to Mayer for comment.
The Midnights bonus track isn’t the first time Swifties have thought one of the Grammy winner’s songs might be a scathing report of her relationship with Mayer, which lasted a few months and ended in February of 2010. Her third album, Speak Now, released that year, included a devastating ballad pointedly titled “Dear John,” in which she lamented, “Don’t you think I was too young to be messed with? … Don’t you think 19 is too young to be played by your dark twisted games?”
If the song’s title isn’t damning enough, the “Your Body Is a Wonderland” singer himself felt sure “Dear John” was written about him. Mayer told Rolling Stone in 2012 that he was “really humiliated” by the song — which he deemed “cheap songwriting” — something Swift then addressed in an interview with Glamour.
“How presumptuous!” she said. “I never disclose who my songs are about.”
Ever protective of their favorite star, Swifties have jumped on Twitter to share their theories about and reactions to the message of “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve.” “Taylor really put Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve, a song directly about her relationship with John Mayer when she was just 19, as TRACK 19 ON THE ALBUM,” pointed out one fan. “SHOTS WERE FIRED.”
“I cant stop laughing taylor really said actually i don’t want to wait for speak now taylors version to be released to drag john mayer i need him to suffer NOW,” joked another.
See more of the best Swiftie reactions to Taylor Swift’s “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” below: