In celebration of her upcoming Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) release, Taylor Swift surprised Minnesota Swifties with an acoustic rendition of “Dear John” at The Eras Tour — alongside an impassioned plea.
“I was hoping to ask you, as we lead up to this album coming out, I would love for that kindness and that gentleness to extend onto our Internet activities,” the “Mastermind” songstress, 33, said during her Saturday, June 24, concert in Minneapolis, per social media footage, after gushing over her fans’ newfound friendships with one another over their shared love of her music.
Swift — who is gearing up to release her rerecorded version of her LP Speak Now next month — further explained the reasons why she is revisiting her old records.
“I’m putting this out now because I want to own my music and I believe that any artist who has the desire to own their music should be able to. That’s why I’m putting out this album,” she said on Saturday. “I’m 33 years old. I don’t care about anything that happened to me when I was 19, except the songs I wrote. … So, what I’m trying to tell you is that I’m not putting this album out so that you should go and feel the need to defend me on the Internet against someone you think I might have written the song about 14 million years ago.”
After Swift concluded her rousing speech, she launched into her new version of “Dear John.” The single, which originally dropped in 2010, was widely theorized to be inspired by her romance with her now-ex John Mayer.
The Valentine’s Day actress and Mayer, 45, were first linked in 2009 after collaborating on his song “Half of My Heart.” Swift was 19 at the time and Mayer was 32, leading eagle-eyed Swifties to believe her “Dear John” lyrics referenced their age-gap romance.
“Dear John, I see it all, now it was 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.
While Swift has never publicly revealed who “Dear John” was inspired by, Mayer confessed to Rolling Stone in 2012 that he was “humiliated” by the lyrics. Years later, the “Your Body Is a Wonderland” crooner walked back his criticism.
“Sometimes, I hope it’s about me. It’s a really good song,” Mayer said during a February 2021 appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. “I don’t think it’s a dirty admission. Sometimes, a song is so good, I go, ‘Man, I hope that’s about me.’ … I’ll check everyone’s music out. I’m a fan.”
Swift, for her part, is known for writing songs about her exes from Joe Alwyn to Jake Gyllenhaal. After releasing Red (Taylor’s Version) in November 2021, many devoted fans publicly bashed Gyllenhaal, 42, via social media due to the lyrics in her 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” (The breakup song was allegedly penned about their fling.)
“It has nothing to do with me. It’s about her relationship with her fans,” the Brokeback Mountain star told Esquire in a February 2022 profile, breaking his silence about the alleged musical inspiration. “It is her expression. Artists tap into personal experiences for inspiration, and I don’t begrudge anyone that.”
Gyllenhaal also opened up about the unwarranted social media attention he received once the new album came out. “At some point, I think it’s important when supporters get unruly that we feel a responsibility to have them be civil and not allow for cyberbullying in one’s name,” he told the outlet. “That begs for a deeper philosophical question. Not about any individual, per se, but a conversation that allows us to examine how we can — or should, even — take responsibility for what we put into the world, our contributions into the world. How do we provoke a conversation? We see that in politics. There’s anger and divisiveness, and it’s literally life-threatening in the extreme.”
Swift’s Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) — featuring “Dear John” — drops on Friday, July 7. The Pennsylvania native even teased a snippet of “Mine” via her social media accounts hours earlier on Saturday.