Wednesday, June 10, 2009

music: John Mayer, an appreciation

There are a lot of people out there who know John Mayer only as the Jennifer Aniston-bonking teen heartthrob behind the awful "Your Body is a Wonderland" Let the scales fall from your eyes!
Years ago I caught the video of No Such Thing 1½ times and couldn't get it out of my head. In 20 seconds you can tell he knows how to assemble a quality song. When you hear him sing the fabulously wrong "Uhhhp my sleeve" you hear the musicianship.

So I bought the album "Room for Squares". Massive disappointment. After "No Such Thing", it seems just a generic series of singer-songwriter melancholic songs, with the genuinely bad "Your Body is a Wonderland" as a nadir. A massive let-down, maybe he sold his soul to the devil for that one song.

Then on his next record "Heavier Things" he's thanking Buddy Guy and Elton John, like all the bands on MySpace, and people slam it for its horrible Loudness War sound.

  • The songs on "Room for Squares" all grow on you:
    • Neon has a surprisingly tricky chords
    • 83 is sweet
    • 3x5 is a really strong lyric about living life instead of trying to capture it
    • He tosses in a dead stop acoustic freakout in the midst of Your Body is a Wonderland performances (at 1:20)
  • I caught the TV special of him playing with Buddy Guy, and damn, his blues playing is right there. (I still don't understand the Elton John connection.)
  • "Heavier Things" is an album of expansion and growth in song-writing. Clarity is an outstanding song despite the awful sound.
Then he releases "Try!" by the John Mayer Trio and blows the doors off, from the very first song onwards. He's channeling Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Great stuff, though the sound is hurt by drummer Steve Jordan producing it and over-boosting his snare.

"Continuum" is a bit of an anticlimax, just a set of good pop songs.

All links are YouTube videos unless otherwise indicated. Every performance is subtly different and has its merits. I love John Mayer Trio - Chicken Grease / Jam / Cissy Strut for a lonnng jam. You'd never believe this guy is a pop star in People magazine all the time.



  • awesome posting

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 11, 2009 6:05 PM  

  • I cant wait for Johns new album in November. I already love "Taking on Water" and "Half of My Heart" Im sure this will follow in line with his previous albums and stay in my cd player for months after the release.

    By Anonymous poker rakeback, at September 07, 2009 2:02 PM  

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