Say Whatever You Want About John Mayer.


Michael Drew

Michael Drew is a Wisconsinite currently residing in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He enjoys thinking and writing about politics, history, and philosophy, listening to music and podcasts of all kinds, watching and occasionally playing sports, and playing the cello.

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34 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Mayer become popular when I was in high school and college and quickly became a bit of a punch line for making lame-ish music. He didn’t help himself with some pretty offensive comments he made further down the road.

    But everyone I know who knows anything about music says he is a legit virtuoso on the guitar. Which is a shame. Because too many people know him as the “Body is a Wonderland” guy.

    I don’t need my artists to be perfect human beings. But they should avoid making shitty output if they are capable of true greatness.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kazzy says:

      Nah, if they’re going to make shitty output, that’s fine. Just … do it anonymously. Or use a different name.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Kazzy says:

      I don’t really blame anybody. even great artists (not John Mayer), for making some lame output. There needs to be shitty output if you want great output. If you can’t accept some lame output, you are ipso facto accepting a smaller chance at some great output. (Much) great art only exists because someone took the risk of creating something super shitty.

      Also, I don’t really mind an artist who are capable of much better creating something that will sell a billion copies just because it will sell a billion copies.

      Also, I really don’t mine Your Body Is Wonderland all that much as a tune. I mean, I don’t like it. And the message is gross. But there’s worse on the radio.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Fair points, all around. My point was that Mayer did himself a disservice by introducing himself to the world with some farty crap. A lot of people still roll their eyes at him and it takes a lot of, “No, seriously, I know he sucks. But he’s also ridiculous awesome!” to get them to give him a second chance.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        That depends what you consider the bigger favor to yourself.

        Entering the music scene as a record-breaking superstar, immediately making millions of dollars, and being the leading teen heartthrob in the music biz for about 8 years?

        Or maintaining a certain degree of cred with music nerds and never having to earn it back after losing it – when you pretty much know you’re good enough that people who are really serious about it will eventually have to come back around and acknowledge your talent.

        In fairness, given how Mayer seems to feel about the terrible way he handled the former, he might agree with you about which one it would have been. But I’m guessing in reality he wouldn’t give up the early megastardom and the millions (or, in all honesty I bet, the girls, though he seems to claim he would). (WTH, how does “megastardom” not get a red-underline that-is-not-a-word warning?)

        In all honesty, to me, he doesn’t strike me as a guy who’s really looking to be taken seriously. He just seems like a guy who loves music and is looking for a good time. Pop stardom probably looked like a no-brainer to him in 2002, and I can’t say as I remotely blame him. The ‘serious blues musician’ profile – that’s just not who I feel like I’m looking at when I look at John Mayer. It just happens to be this weird other fact about him.

        I also I don’t think there was actually much choice to it for him artistically at that time. I think those songs were who he really was then. He just also happened to be a damn good blues guitarist/near-prodigy (though all the greats were probably playing just as well at the same age, that’s how musical greatness pretty much works). That he has both idioms so firmly within his musical grasp just goes to the level of talent.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Michael Drew says:

        And the message is gross.

        Just read the lyrics. Am I missing something?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I don’t know the lyrics well, actually. But the title is pretty gratuitous objectification, isn’t it? Your body is a playground for my pleasure, basically?

        I am probably missing something about the meaning of that. What is it?Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Michael Drew says:

        But the title is pretty gratuitous objectification, isn’t it? Your body is a playground for my pleasure, basically?

        Within the confines of a consensual relationship, I would hardly called sexual objectification gratuitous.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Sex is for procreation, J r.

        If you want to feel good, mow the lawn and then look at your accomplishment and bask in that before taking a cold shower.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        That actually raises something else that confuses me abut John Mayer.

        John Mayer takes all this flak for his womanizing ways. And, if they’re real, he should. But… why moreso than so many other rock stars? Is the whole “groupies” thing just a myth? Don’t many, many rock/rap/pop stars take serial advantage of their desirability among women while it lasts?

        I don’t care at all that Mayer takes more crap for it than others. He gives off that entitled-rich-white-kid-from-Connnectcut vibe in huge way. But is the story that he was actually worse in some significant way as far as taking advantage of his fame than most other rock stars, or stars of whatever kind for that matter?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:


        Fair. Maybe shallow is the better word. And, in keeping with my previous comment, it’s hardly a sentiment that’s not the subject of about a million other songs.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Michael Drew says:


        I think Mayer screwed over some other big name celebrities with his promiscious ways and then doubled-down with some troubling comments that seemed both mysogonistic and racist. It also seems to be generally well-accepted that he’s a major league asshat.

        And great point in your prior comment about what was “best” for him. As I re-read, I realized I was being unfair. To walk back my initial comment, I will say that it is a shame that more people don’t recognize Mayer’s brilliance and that he is partly to blame for that fact.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Kazzy says:

          @kazzy That’s a good point about the comments. I think his p.r. troubles might stem from the light that the comments put his typical rock-star behavior in mores than from the behavior itself, as well as from choosing other celebs as partners. I hand’t forgotten about the comments (though I forget what they were), but I wasn’t thinking about them that way.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

        John Mayer takes all this flak for his womanizing ways.

        I think it’s more that some of his womanizing ways have been at the expense of other personalities that we really like as well.

        It’d be one thing if Debbie from Des Moines spent a night of passion with John Mayer as he was touring. It’d be quite another if we heard that Taylor Swift broke up with John Mayer because he spent a night of passion with some no name in Des Moines while on tour.

        (I also think that there’s some degree of “looking under the streetlight” going on. If you hear that some person from one of those lower-class entertainment provision outlets spent his time being hedonistic… well, boys will be boys. John Mayer presents as a sensitive new age guy. He, of all people, should know better.)Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I don’t know. Sounds like you guys are slut-shaming Mayer.Report

      • …I also said that he gives off an entitled-rich-white-kid-from-Connecticut vibe in a huge way, by which I meant that people won’t be inclined to give him any more breaks than he already got in life. But I also agree with JB that it might also mean that people think, “What’s a nice kid from Fairfield doing in the papers acting like that? That’s not what we do!”Report

  2. Avatar Chris says:

    But this is a level of music making you just don’t see very often on late-night weeknight TV

    Dude, The Roots are Fallon’s house band!Report

  3. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    What I actually think is great here is the vocal blending. They sound like they’ve been singing together for years.

    I never liked Mayer’s singing very much. He has an interesting voice, but I always thought it was a little contrived. But it really works as a backing voice here. Like, phenomenally.Report

  4. Avatar aaron david says:

    Well, its always nice to see The Most Interesting Man In The World on stage…Report

  5. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I’ll say what I need to say.Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy says:

    There is a video out there of Mayer performing live with Prince. Mayer nails a solo or progression or some such thing (I don’t know music terminology) and elicits a genuine look of amazement from Prince. PRINCE!Report

  7. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I think I saw that when it was new.


  8. Avatar Pinky says:

    This is an extension of our Superbowl conversation.

    “A jerk, if the rumors are true, but wow can he play!”Report

  9. Avatar Pinky says:

    He clearly relaxes completely when he gets back in his element, however.

    There are good guitarists, then there are “now I can relax and play with Bob Weir on national television”-good guitarists.Report

  10. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Odd that he changed up the lyrics for TV. “Sometimes the cards ain’t worth a dime” ? And also left out the verse about the drug bust in New Orleans.

    But thanks for this, Mike. That was some awesome lead guitar,Report