“Heartbreak Warfare” by John Mayer

John Mayer has dated some of the most famous women in Hollywood, especially back in the days around his musical heyday. So fans have speculated that this song may be about one of such individuals, Jennifer Aniston or maybe another, Katy Perry, even though “Heartbreak Warfare” came out before Perry and Mayer dated.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for John Mayer's Heartbreak Warfare at Lyrics.org.

And whereas some seem especially convinced that it is about Aniston, John himself has clarified that such is not the case. Instead as he argued, he strives not to directly incorporate his personal life into his music, as he feels that doing so more or less defiles the latter.

That said, Mayer also simultaneously acknowledged that personal experiences did influence the lyrics. And it’s clear that this song is written from the perspective of someone who does in fact possess a background in the battlefield of love.

For instance, those who are not as experienced in romance would perhaps be under the impression that when you’re mutually smitten, as the vocalist and addressee are, everything is all gravy. But here, the title and main storyline points to how rather jealousy is used as a means of romantic “warfare” between the two of them.

The “Heartbreak Warfare” Games

So for instance, we have the vocalist poetically implying in the first verse that he is trying to conjure up creative ways to basically hurt the addressee’s feelings, since he too is in “pain”. Then in the second verse, we find this lady doing things to John like mentioning the name of her other romantic interest. Her primary goal of doing this is to put him in a state of visible discomfort. 

Well internally, this tactic is very much effective. But externally, the vocalist is compelled to front like he “feel(s) no pain”. And so it is with the addressee, as implied in the chorus. John is able to ascertain that she “want(s) more love”. But instead of just stating that desire outright, she is compelled to play cruel games like the one mentioned above.

And for those readers who may be inexperienced in such matters of the heart, all of this may seem petty and self-destructive, which arguably it is. But that’s how it is sometimes when you’re caught up in a troubled relationship, one in which certain detrimental acts may have already transpired that now can’t be taken back.

The singer, as put forth in the bridge, perceives the addressee as being the one who is stifling a resolution. And all lyrics considered, she likely feels the same about him. And so as it currently stands, they are waging an emotionally-driven offensive with no foreseeable end in sight – or as Mayer terms it,  engaged in “heartbreak warfare”.

John Mayer's "Heartbreak Warfare" Lyrics

John Mayer talks about the Meaning of “Heartbreak Warfare”

According to Mayer, the song is basically about being in a romantic relationship where you love and hate your partner at the same time and can’t get out of the relationship no matter how hard you try.

John Mayer talks about "Heartbreak Warfare"

Facts about “Heartbreak Warfare”

John Mayer is a singer from Connecticut. His first studio album, “Room for Squares”, came out in 2001. It was also during the aughts that he experienced A list critical and commercial success. And “Heartbreak Warfare” is derived from one of such albums, 2009’s “Battle Studies”, with this song coming out as its second single on 19 October of said year.

“Heartbreak Warfare” stands as a notable hit amongst John Mayer’s catalog. The song actually appeared on seven US Billboard charts, including the Hot 100. In addition to that, it has also been certified platinum in the United States, as well as in Australia.

Mayer wrote this song and also co-produced it, accomplishing the latter task alongside Steve Jordan. The latter is a renowned American musician. In addition to Mayer, Jordan has worked with big names such as:

  • Keith Richards
  • Eric Clapton
  • The Rolling Stones

Many consider this song to be one of the saddest songs of all time.

Mayer has acknowledged what others have recognized – that “Heartbreak Warfare” shares similarities with “Bad“, a song U2 dropped in 1984 that is also reportedly one of his favorites. However, he has also stated that it isn’t a case of him intentionally trying to emulate said tune. And apparently U2 agrees, as it doesn’t seem they ever tried to sue him, as such situations sometimes go.

Heartbreak Warfare

Mayer’s “Battle Studies” Album

The “Battle Studies” album dropped on November 17 of 2009. This project, which is a follow-up to the singer’s third studio album “Continuum”, was released through Columbia Records.

This album was preceded by two singles, with the first single being “Who Says”, which dropped on October 13 of 2009. And the second single, “Heartbreak Warfare”, was issued a few days later, on October 19.

The album’s third and fourth singles were both released in 2010. The third single, “Half of My Heart”, came out on June 21 and the fourth single, “Perfectly Lonely”, was released on November 13. To note, the former features vocals from Taylor Swift.

Production of this record was handled by Mayer alongside Jordan (the co-producer of “Heartbreak Warfare”).

“Battle Studies” is considered one of Mayer’s best-performing projects. The project took the US by storm, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200. This record achieved chart success in several other regions including topping the main album charts in the Netherlands.

It also ranked inside the top-10 on the official album charts in Canada and other places such as:

  • Norway
  • Australia
  • Sweden
  • Denmark

In addition to its commercial success, “Battle Studies” received a nomination at the Grammys in 2011. The project was shortlisted in the category of “Best Pop Vocal Album”. The award eventually went to “The Fame Monster”, a 2009 project by American singer Lady Gaga.

1 Response

  1. Cool Commenter says:

    This is such a comprehensive article on this John Mayer track. Thanks (:

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