"Paper Doll" as written by and John Mayer....
Paper doll, come try it on
Step out of that black chiffon
Here’s a dress of gold and blue
Sure was fun being good to you

This one we made just for Fall
And Winter runs a bit too small
This mint green is new for Spring
My love didn’t cost a thing

You’re like twenty-two girls in one
And none of them know what they’re runnin’ from
Was it just too far to fall?
For a little paper doll

Fold a scarf, Moroccan red
And tie your hair behind your head
Strap into some heels that hurt
You should’ve kept my undershirt

You’re like twenty-two girls in one
And none of them know what they’re runnin’ from
Was it just too far to fall?
For a little paper doll

Cut the cord and pull some strings
And make yourself some angel wings
And if those angel wings don’t fly
Someone’s gonna paint you another sky

‘Cause you’re like twenty-two girls in one
And none of them know what they’re runnin’ from
Was it just too far to fall?


Lyrics submitted by gardertanf

"Paper Doll" as written by John Clayton Mayer

Lyrics © REACH MUSIC PUBLISHING

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Paper Doll song meanings
Add your thoughts

10 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +11
    My InterpretationI'm not saying that I for sure think this is about Taylor Swift, though the choice of the number 22 suggests that it is.

    Regardless, to me, this song is him talking about a girl he used to date, who was fake. A "paper doll" is something you dress up to look how you want it to, and something you play with. I think he's saying that she will change who she is for anyone that comes her way.

    "You're like 22 girls in one" - meaning she's many different people, instead of just herself.

    "But none of them know what they're running from" - suggests that she's like this because she doesn't want to face who she really is.

    "Cut the cord and pull some strings. Make yourself some angel wings" - try and be on your own, and "cut the cord" of being everyone's puppet.

    "If those angel wings don't fly. Someone's gonna paint you another sky". - if you can't be on your own, you'll find someone else to use you again.

    It's a beautiful way to slightly insult someone, if you ask me.



    All of the clothing he's singing about represent her different personalities she's choosing to put on.
    rebeccaston June 19, 2013   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationAnyone who questions whether this is about Taylor Swift or not is dumb. :P

    Actually, when I first listened to this song I didn't realize what he meant when he said "You're like 22 girls in one." 22 is the title of that god awful song Swift made a couple months back. (I hated it.) The difference between their music is like night and day, at least now it is.

    Now I'm not the kind of person that would make assumptions or believe rumors, especially about celebrity relationships, but I feel as if though Swift was the kind of girl to make a mountain out of a mole hill, and I also think that the lyric "Was it just too far to fall for a little paper doll?" is talking about her recent change in style, not just in music but in appearance and personality as well. And that is undeniably true. Her music has become stale and cooperate, all money no soul, and now she's just like a little paper doll, no personality in her whatsoever. One could argue that this has always been true, but I don't agree. I think she's very talented, just lost.

    If I had advice for Taylor, it would be to stop relying on men so much to make your life complete. Men don't take things so seriously and sometimes don't realize what their actions and words can really mean to a girl, and after all these relationships you'd think she'd realize this.

    "Someone's gonna paint you another sky." by the way, is another take on her song Dear John, "You'd paint me a blue sky and go back and turn it to rain." I think that's how it goes, but you get the gist.

    At this point I honestly just feel sorry for the both of them. Is this song amazing? No. But it is pretty good, because this is the first time Mayer has actually shown recognition about the drama and it's a bit sad, despite its upbeat feel. I would definitely listen to it again.
    Frissionon June 19, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song was written by Mayer as response to Taylor Swift's song "Dear John", allegedly about her relationship with Mayer. Mayer mentioned in an interview that he was humiliated by "Dear John". Mayer said "I will say as a songwriter that I think it's kind of cheap songwriting" in the sense that it was so direct, calling him out on how he "gave love and took it away" and how she "regretted when they said run as fast as you can" away from Mayer because of his reputation, which Mayer responds in "Paper Doll" by saying "my love didn't cost a thing", he does not regret what they had. Most importantly she says in "Dear John" "you PAINT me a blue SKY then go back and turn it to rain", in Mayer's "Paper Doll" he writes "And if those angel wings don’t fly, Someone’s gonna PAINT you another SKY", ultimately saying she will move on and so will he. His response is a more sensitive action to contradict Swift's so emotional and finger pointing art.
    ElRoon August 29, 2013   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationNo one but John Mayer can really know who and what this song is about but I do see some hints that It could be about Taylor Swift. Mayer uses the number 22, Moroccan Red, and says paint you another sky.

    Here is my interpretation of the song :

    Paper Doll come try it on - ( He's talking about someone that easily or constantly changes and he wants that person to try something else - to try and stay still )

    Step out of that black chiffon - ( Here he's saying step out of those different personas you have )

    Here's a dress of gold and blue - ( try to be a lighter person- a real one )

    Sure was fun being good to you - ( He's saying the relationship was good, in the beginning. He tried to be there for her because of it. )

    This one we just made for fall - ( He's saying lets try again - like new, clean slate )

    Winter runs a bit too small - ( Here he saying they tried, again but it didn't work )

    This mint green is new for spring - ( Again he's saying the renewal of the relationship didn't work but because they were to different )

    My love didn't cost a thing - ( He's saying it wasn't a game for me. It was real and not for the publicity )

    You're like 22 girls in one - ( You keep changing who you are. You're never the same and its hard, to keep track of )

    And none of them k ow what they're running from - ( You don't really know what you want. You can't or won't face it )

    Was it just to far to fall - ( He's saying that she's wasn't 100% there, she was to scared to be vulnerable, to afraid getting hurt to fully let him in )

    For a little paper doll - ( Again he's saying your constantly changing, never the same to let me in )

    Fold a scarf, Moroccan red and tie your hair behind your head, strap into some heals that hurt - ( Here he's saying, fine do what you want. Keep hiding and changing )

    You should've kept my undershirt - ( He's tell her you should have opened yourself up to me so you could have stayed )

    You're like 22 girls in one and none of them know what they're running from was it just to far to fall for a little paper doll- ( said above ⤴ )

    Cut the cord and pull some strings - ( He's telling her to stop hiding. Stop trying to be someone/ something you're not for other people )

    And make yourself some angel wings - ( He's saying be who you really are. Blossom )

    And if those angel wing don't fly some one is going to paint you another sky - ( If you don't open up and let yourself be vulnerable to other people, if you do,t learn to be who you really are someone else is going to hurt you, your relationship's will fail and you'll keep repeating the same story )
    alexandragon April 10, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it is about Taylor but it kind of is a gentle response that remembers the romantic aspects of the relationship. Kind of killing with kindness and some sexual tension. It does have a few gentle insults that sound like play.
    surrogatehobbyon July 08, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI know what I've seen several comments about this being about Taylor and it obviously is b/c John came out in an interview and said, "if someone wants to write songs they can interpret it however THEY want." Obviously that comment was another jab at Taylor. In the song that Taylor and John sang together it is called "Half of My Heart." Nobody has mentioned this reference, which completely has me shocked because it has a lyric that says, "to a bride with a paper ring." A paper doll would have a paper ring ;)

    The 22 reference and the Moroccan red is the exact shade of her Red album. I think he said the mint green dress to confuse people because Katy Perry is known for wearing a mint green dress, but there is also a very innocent picture of Taylor wearing one too.

    google.com/…

    that link shows her wearing the same colored dresses he mentions around the same time period.

    There are several references to Taylor and about scarfs
    SweetSailingon July 16, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionTaylor Swift? Taylor Swift.
    paigeraquelon June 18, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation>>Quick Statement On This Taylor Vs John deliema<<
    Let me start off by saying; i love John Mayer and his music. I do not hate Taylor, but i don't find myself listening to all of her music. Some are nice though. I love how alot of people can interpret John's music and the meaning behind it differently. Either way, you learn alot when you observe his writing. xP

    Paper Doll has been seen by many by the media and by fans alike; as a "diss" towards John Mayer. But i can't see it. To many things come to mind when i can even imagine John Mayer attempting to use his music to insult or attack someone. He's more laid back then that and he's showed it threw his entire career. Along with; this song is just to laid back and calm for it to be a diss. I actually think it's a smooth song reflecting off her actions and how they impacted the relationship, nothing more nothing less. That is a prediction though. Lets see: (:D)
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    >> My Interpreation <<

    Try to understand. (Paper doll come try it on)
    It was because of you being neglectful and unwillingly committed to our relationship that we broke up. (Step out of that black Chiffon)
    You should of been more stronger in our relationship. (Here’s a dress of gold and blue)
    We could've worked things out. (Sure was fun being good to you) (Not sure on that one. Big chance of different meaning)

    We planned to have a very strong and beautiful relationship. (This one we made just for fall)
    It got shaky and to soon it was lost. (And Winter runs a bit too small)
    We could of tried again. (This mint green is new for spring)
    But the end of it doesn’t/didn’t effect him any." (My love didn’t cost a thing

    You let out alot of different emotional/sensitive feelings naturally. (You’re like 22 girls in one)
    and you don't know really how to feel because of that (And none of them of them know what they’re running from
    Did we commit to a long term relationship to fast (Was it just to far to fall) ((Fall= Fall Season))
    For you Taylor? (For a little paper doll)

    If you want to continue to be scared and weak, go on then (Fold a scarf Morcoccan Red)
    Tie your hair behind your head and (And tie your hair behind your head...Unsure...)
    and be someone your not (Strap in to some heels that hurt)
    you lost out/ you should of listened to what i said or had to say/ you will never see me again (You could have kept my undershirt) (This could have alot of meanings behind it.)

    Don't depend on anyone else, lead your own life (Cut the cord and pull some strings)
    Learn to stand for yourself, have more courage and love (Make yourself some angel wings)
    And if you can't learn to do that. (And if those angel wings don't fly)
    Someone else will help you. (Someone's gonna paint you another sky)

    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    >>All the evidence i used to get that<<


    From how i can imagine it, you see he brings up colors. If we evaluate the meaning of colors and idolize what the dress she wears is symbolizing, you learn what's the meaning.
    First thing that comes to mind is. Black. "Step out of that black chiffon" Little known fact; Chiffon is a dress.
    Black, in clothing is to make a bold statement of mystery and self control.
    Blue stands for a stable, calm conservative feelings
    Gold stands for personal power, promotes courage, confidence and willpower.

    Fall having the most meaning behind it; for this song in my belief means It can be seen as old age, but before sickness and death
    Winter is a time of reflection, a time where we think about what we want to accomplish for the future
    Spring reawakening, new birth and exiting out of slumber, while Lime Green stands for feeling of anticipation, and helps to clear the mind of negativity
    Love didn't cost a thing.
    ((Fun fact: Did you know that there is actually more meaning behind the number 22 then you'd of thought. 22 in Numerology (study of the purported divine, mystical or other special relationship between a number and some coinciding observed (or perceived) events), stands for the principle of precision and balance. It is potentially the most successful of all numbers. It can achieve what is hardly imaginable, 22 can turn the most ambitious of dreams a reality. Just thought i'd throw that fact out there. XD))

    Anyway.

    This verse is pretty much simple as John is known for makeing his courses simple so that the entire song is reflective towards it. It's like the easiest puzzle piece of the thousands of pieces (one of the four corners obviously)

    The Flag of Morocco is mostly red with a green star. The Red stands for hardiness, bravery, strength
    I really don't know what "And tie your hair behind your head" could mean. Maybe keep your problems behind you, or it could just be a comment as she always has that single ponytail hairstyle.
    Symbolically, Womens shoes represent the kind of person they want to be seen as.
    If he'd of said shirt i'd of let this off as another comment, but an undershirt is a dress shirt intended to protect them from body sweat and odors.

    This one is pretty self-explaintory.
    Cut the cords has always meant To become independent of someone while pull some strings means to take command over
    Angel Wings symbolically stand for Angels which in it's own nature stands for an entire package of emotional senses pretty much.Purity Love Faith Courage Compassion and Perseverance along with alot of other things.


    And as I've always said. This is my interpretation of it. You will possibly have a different view on this song then i have on it. So please, write what you think. I love observing how other people view his songs.
    kidnick100on June 22, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think its strange how Taylor Swift can right a song about a relationship and be criticized and hated about it every day but other people write songs about love.

    the thing is though i think nobody at all has sent John hate or criticized him in any way so why target Taylor when this is obviously a song about her?
    Switlyswiftie1on July 11, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOf course she was 22 girls in one! She was very young at the time they were dating and exploring herself (which turned out to be a pretty awesome self). I really love some of his work, and lyrically some stuff is very moving but then every now and then something he says is really off putting and reminiscent of some of the attitudes of egotistical slimy men I've had the misfortune of dating. Knowing this song about a girl 13 years his junior, as some sort of revenge song, he strikes me as an incredibly immature creep, a really self indulgent, self important Sad man.
    nothatoriginalon December 30, 2014   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain