"If you're a man you're an outlaw. If you're a woman you're kind of crazy. And when I watched that through that lens, my heart just ached the whole time," Mayer said of "Framing Britney Spears."
At 43 years old, John Mayer is starting to settle down in his life, admitting to Andy Cohen on the latter's Sirius XM show that he really, really enjoyed the wild years of his life, but now he was ready to start thinking about settling down.
That conversation was triggered by a caller asking Mayer what was left to check off on his bucket list after such a successful life and career -- not to mention all the beautiful women he's dated.
"there's one thing left and that's wife and kids. Wife and kids," said Mayer. "That would be, that would complete all of it. And I thought about this as recently as last night. Cause my brothers are both married and have children."
The truth is, though, he knows he has not yet been ready for it because "only now is my tummy sore from all the frosting I've eaten off the cake of life."
Keeping up with the strange analogies, Mayer went on to say, "You just have to be done playing with your toy of me and my life and my thing. I've come to a point in my life where with this stuff, I'm not fatigued completely, but my hands are on my knees a little bit and I'm going, 'Okay, I definitely explored the life of what can be done for me by me.'"
In other words, he has lived this chapter of his life just as fully as he can imagine and he's actually ready to move into the next chapter.
That doesn't mean he won't stop and reflect on some of his past adventures and misadventures. One way he does that is through listening to the music of some of his exes, wondering (as many fans do) if any of them are about him.
Saying that he's reached a point of distance from all his past relationships that there is no longer any emotional pain or turmoil in appreciating their artistry or even them as people, Mayer told Cohen he can enjoy a performance or a piece. "Sometimes, I like, I'm a fan. Like I can watch and go like, nailed it."
As for speculating on what the song might be about -- or who -- Mayer admitted, "Sometimes I hope it's about me. Sometimes it's a really good song, and I go and I listen sometimes ... I don't think it's a dirty admission. Sometimes a song is so good I go, 'Man, I hope that's about me.'"
As the years have passed, creating distance between him and his exes, Mayer explained that the relationships reach a point where they're "no longer jangling your nerves or making you upset." It's at this point that you can again just appreciate the artist and their artistry, regardless of any personal history.
"At some point you get in the car and go, 'Oh, new records out, I'm checking it out,'" he continued. "And sometimes those songs are really good ... that I go, 'Man, this song is really good. I would be quite jazzed if this were about me.' But, you know, it's probably not."
One artist he knows has never written a song about him is Britney Spears. In fact, despite enjoying "TRL"-level fame around the same time, Mayer said he's never met Spears. And yet, because of his own wild past, he felt an unexpected kinship, admitting he was moved and upset by the recent documentary on her life and conservatorship.
"I almost cried five times during that," he admitted. And he found himself wondering, along with so many others, if the times and the media and the scrutiny of that spotlight in that specific era helped lead to her breakdown.
"If you understand what this business slash industry slash lifestyle does to a person," he said. "To go through this and come out the other side okay, is to have infinite grace for those who struggle with it."
While Mayer believes he came out okay, he also credits some of that to the privilege of growing up in that spotlight and navigating that world with a certain privilege.
"I came out, okay. I have a feeling that part of that is because I'm a man," he said. "And I have a very strong feeling that a lot of these things that happen to female performers is endemic to being female."
"I watched it with such grace for someone who got much more maligned by the inhuman experiment of fame than I did," Mayer continued. "And I go, 'Why did I get through that? Why did I find my way through that obstacle course? What was afforded to me stylistically.'"
What was afforded to him was his gender. "If you're a man you're an outlaw," he said. "If you're a woman, you're kind of crazy. And when I watched that through that lens, my heart just ached the whole time."