How to be a blues playboy, and still shut your critics up with really great musicSeptember 5, 2013
I want to dislike John Mayer. His talent, eye for beautiful woman, and basic lottery winning genetics are what annoy me. No, I’m not bitter. His little black book reads like any 18 year old’s fantasy list of wrist action lovers. Maybe I want to dislike him because when he hit the scene he sounded exactly like a pop version of Dave Matthews, who ended up becoming a pop version of Dave Matthews and thus started sounding like John Mayer. This confused me.
Yes I have some guilty favourites such as “Bigger than My Body” and I’ll admit I may have paraphrased “Your Body Is A Wonderland” to a half-naked girl at one time, and I’m not ashamed of it. Continuum was a great album, the songs collected on it made me think there was something more to this hitmaking savant. His ability for playing those six strings is actually far greater than most give him credit for.
(Ed’s note – that might be the smartest thing you’ve ever said, Jay.)
My dad, being a huge Eric Clapton fan, once sat me down to watch the DVD of the Crossroads Guitar Festival. I was stunned to see John “before I was famous and banging your dream girls” Mayer on it, sharing the stage with the greatest guitarists in the world. He was a young musician that would take the spotlight for what it was, a place to jam a ten minute guitar solo that made you want to smash your guitar into a million pieces and break your own fingers in embarrassment of ever having tried to play it.
So he hit the spotlight and got famous for being a popular musician and did what famous, good-looking people do, he got more famous for being famous and hanging with famous people. Which detracts from the fact the guy can make good music. I always wondered why he took that route; well I know why, any guy would have done the same, I just wondered if that was the public perception he always wanted to craft; and if it’s had a detrimental effect on his career, or is that the fuel that he needs to write?
So last year he brought out a blues/soul-filled album, Born And Raised after a two year
sex retreat hiatus following surgery on his vocal chords. He went all Crosby, Stills and Nash and he sounded really comfortable doing it, so why fix what ain’t broke — just tweak it a bit.
Paradise Valley, just a year after the last album, seems to be John driving that open road from middle America infusion all the way back to crossover town. References to his relationship with Taylor Swift “You’re like 22 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.”, which compared to Continuum, where he tackled religion on the song “Belief” — “We’re never gonna win the world/ We’re never gonna stop the war/ We’re never gonna beat this/ If belief is what we’re fighting for.” Although everyone loves a good Taylor bash, it’s like comparing lyrical wisdom apples with childish oranges.
He is standing on a tightrope held up by two seemingly conflicting career paths. Folk/rock/blues/pop guitarist and future legend on the one side; and on the other side is someone saying “let’s get you and your girlfriend Katy Perry to duet on the new album.” But the man makes it work.
Paradise Valley is a great album. It gives you that relaxed, get in the car and hit the Karoo for a farm store shopping spree feeling. Easily his best effort since Continuum, with more guitar than harmonica this time and showing signs that time in the country did him the world of good. Catch the video for “Paper Doll”, it’s eerily entrancing. “Wildfire” is another great single for the album, doing well on charts around the world.
John Mayer – Wildfire
Writing this article, I just remembered why I have this desire to hate the man. He once referenced Jessica Simpson as “sexual napalm” — hot, car washing Jessica Simpson – not her current MSG-inhaling evolved state. And that means he lived 20 year old Jay’s fantasy. We could never be friends, mates at most, but never friends.