John Mayer isn’t afraid to talk about Taylor Swift.
The musicians dated briefly in 2010, and it didn’t end well. Swift penned the song “Dear John” for her 2010 album Speak Now, and Mayer responded with “Paper Dolls” on his 2013 album Paradise Valley. Rather than ignore his ex’s influence on pop culture, however, Mayer gave the singer-songwriter credit during an interview for MSNBC’s 7 Days of Genius special. “How’s technology changing? When you look at Taylor Swift—I want to talk about Taylor Swift, professionally here!” Ronan Farrow told Mayer, 37.
“You have to talk about Taylor Swift!” Mayer said. “We have to be able to talk about Taylor Swift!”
Mayer said it’s “really cool” to have someone of Swift’s stature take a stand against Spotify. “Artists need the person with the loudest voice to speak for them,” the “Half of My Heart” rocker explained.
“Is she doing that?” Farrow asked.
“I think so, when you say that,” Mayer replied. “When you go to the Met Ball, that’s great. It’s a great way to use your voice and go, ‘I’m wearing Valentino,’ or you could use your voice to give things. Now, some people who are cynical could say, ‘You’re helping yourself.’ But it’s trickle down. You’re not saying, ‘I want this just for me.’ I think that’s a really cool thing for a musician to do. Like two percent of the music industry has 80 percent of all the media about it. There’s like four people who get all the press, and if any of those four people say, ‘I want to speak for those people who would just never make this a story’—The only reason we’re talking about Taylor Swift taking Spotify on is because she’s Taylor Swift!”
And, according to Mayer, “That’s great!”
Mayer wasn’t subtly shading Swift, either. “I’ve gone to the Met Gala!” he confessed.
The “Bigger Than My Body” singer said he’s not worried that artists like Swift and Kanye West have more influence than he does. “Nothing bothers me anymore,” Mayer said. “There are going to be times when I make music as popular or as empirically value as that in terms of making pop music that won’t sell as many copies. I’m fine with that. You get to an age where you say, ‘Look, if I save a baby from a burning building and Kanye saves a baby from a burning building, there’s more Google news hits on Kanye. I’m fine with it.’ Now, together—and this is what I’m trying to tell you—we’re unstoppable.”
Mayer said he wishes the media focused on his music rather than his relationships. “All we’re talking about is being honest with yourself and what to ask for in this life,” he said. “I put out a song called ‘Paper Doll.’ The song never got listened to as a song. It became a news story because of the lyrics.”
Farrow argued, “You must have known what it would become.”
“I’m not in the business of telling people what the song is about. I never said anything about it. And now I just go, ‘Look, I can say the name Taylor Swift. She’s an artist. I’m an artist. Let’s just…everybody stop. Nobody’s got an incurable cancer. We’re rich people who get to live out our dreams. Let’s just stop it.’ I’m a musician who’s bigger than one song or one record,” Mayer argued. “It’s really about the longevity of all the work that goes together, and I’m just not interested in the things that won’t last forever.”