John Mayer didn't name names when he mentioned the one song off his new album that makes him particularly emotional – to the point of not being able to perform it live – in a recent interview, though he didn't hold back dissecting those emotions.
"Not long ago, I ran into my ex," he told SiriusXM's Buzz Brainard in a new radio interview on The Highway. "It was very amicable. And I had this beautiful moment where I said, 'A lot of it's me.' A lot of it is in my head, you know. Like, something happened to me, and it's just the way I work. It's the way my mind is, and I took it really hard. And that took a long time to be able to admit."
Mayer explained that his song "Never on the Day You Leave" (off The Search for Everything) holds particular poignance because he wrote it at a time when he was "really, really sad, like the kind of sad everyone's there once in their lives, hopefully only once."
"I don't know where it came from, but … all at once it came out full cloth … and the song was written in 20 minutes," he continued. "And there's a line in there that is so brutal because it's so true and I can't play the song live because I don't think I'd make it through it. Like, I haven't played this song live and I don't like to think about it."
The line in question reads: "She'll fight for you like hell, then force herself to like some other man."
"That's what women do. They show up 100 percent," he said. "There's a time they are there 100 percent with everything. And then, at some point for whatever reason, not making a judgment, you or someone else says, 'Nah.' And what they force themselves to do to get over you is so transformative for good and bad that you will never see that whole person again."
Mayer has had a number of high-profile relationships over the years, including Jennifer Love Hewitt, Taylor Swift, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Aniston, and most recently, Katy Perry.
Regardless of which ex he's referencing in his heartfelt lyrics, however, Mayer says he's still struggling to get the words out without breaking down.
"Maybe it's revisionist history, and you're completely wrong, but songs aren't supposed to be philosophically correct. They just have to be true to your feelings," he said. "And every time I sang that line, I would cry in the middle of that line. It took me days and days and days to be able to sing that line for the record, and get through it without crying."