The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Guilty Pleasure – My Irrational Love for the Musical Stylings of John Mayer

Written by: Big Ross, CC2K Staff Writer

ImageThis confessional is going to hurt me a lot more than it will hurt you.

When I first heard RvW’s pitch for Guilty Pleasures Week, nothing immediately came to mind. I conducted a mental checklist of the various facets of pop-culture that I indulge in, coming up with a movie here and a television show there that I supposed I might feel a little guilty about. And then Mayer raised his disheveled head from the ether of my subconscious, only to be quickly and violently beaten down with a baseball bat. I couldn’t talk about him, could I? I tried not to, I really did, but once conjured, Mayer couldn’t be dispelled. It was too perfect. I had no choice but to write about my shame-filled love for the music of John Mayer.


So let’s put all the cards on the table. [deep breath] My name is BR, and I like John Mayer. I have for several years now. It started innocently enough, as these things often do. At first, I wouldn’t change the station when one of his songs came on the radio. Before you know it, my iTunes library has music from every album he’s released, from his independent EP Inside Wants Out through his current release Battle Studies. Hell, I’ll even go on YouTube and watch video clips of his live performances for a quick fix. Obviously, I have a problem.

Before I try and explain exactly why I like his music, let me freely admit that there is an awful lot to dislike about Mayer. There’s so much, I’ll even make a bullet-point-styled list.

John Mayer has the whole douchey acoustic guitar thing going on – This is obvious right? John Mayer has the look of a perennial college sophomore who’ll pull his acoustic guitar out at a house party to serenade all the tipsy sorority sisters faster than Bluto could shotgun a Natty Light.

John Mayer is a douchebag – I unabashedly love the Dave Matthews Band. What’s more, Matthews seems like an incredibly cool guy. Sure he’s something of a hippie and his wife practices holistic medicine [cough]bullshit[cough], but I think he’d be a great guy to hang out (and maybe get drunk) with. Mayer, on the other hand, just comes off as a giant douchebag

John Mayer is a terrible singer – I’m convinced that Mayer can’t really sing. Were it not for the microphones and sound systems, no one would be able to hear him. His lyrics are delivered in a breathy, whisper-singing that, as the fine folks at point out, is likely intentional with the premise that “the quieter [he] whisper-sings, the closer the girl has to get, the more likely she is to forgive [his] lack of skill”.

John Mayer desperately wants to be a guitar hero – So in recent years Mayer has mostly traded in the acoustic guitar for an electric model. He went through a brief “blues phase” where he toured with a bass player and a drummer under the moniker the John Mayer Trio and covered a bunch of the old classics. He also frequently covers some of the all-time greats, notably Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. And honestly, he’s alright. It’s clear the guy has put a lot of time and energy into honing his skill. But is he truly innovative? Is he doing things that change the way people think about what is possible with an electric guitar? Unless he’s treating his Fender Stratocaster like Bill Clinton treated his cigars, the answer is no.

If I have so little respect for Mayer as a person, for his singing talent, and only a modicum of respect for his skills with a guitar, why on Earth do I like his music? I can already tell this is going to hurt. Here goes…I like the lyrics to a lot of his songs. That is not to say that I think Mayer is a poet or any sort of great lyricist. But, well, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, very often Mayer’s words speak to me. I identify with them. Regardless of the person he is in real life, the guy in Mayer’s songs could, well, he could be me. To wit:

My Stupid Mouth
I`m never speaking up again
It only hurts me
I`d rather be a mystery
Than she desert me

This just screams “socially awkward guy filled with self-doubt about his ability to interact with the opposite sex”. What can I say? Guilty as charged.

Come Back to Bed
Still is the life
Of your room
When you`re not inside
And all of your things
Tell the sweetest story line
Your tears on these sheets
And your footsteps are down the hall
So tell me what I did
I can`t find where the moment went wrong at all

You can be mad in the morning
I`ll take back what I said
Just don`t leave me alone here
It`s cold, baby
Come back to bed

Has anyone ever not had a fight with their significant other, attempted to “sleep on it” only to have him/her prefer the couch to sharing a bed with you? No? Just me? Damn.

Oh twice as much
Ain’t twice as good
And can`t sustain
Like one half could
It`s wanting more
It`s gonna send me to my knees

Look no further than the CC2K archives for my recounting of the time I became an unwitting player and (poorly) attempted to juggle relationships with two girls at the same time. Yeah, these lyrics pretty much speak for themselves.

Love Song for No One
Searching all my days just to find you
I`m not sure who I`m looking for
I`ll know it
When I see you
Until then, I`ll hide in my bedroom
Staying up all night just to write
A love song for no one

Though I encountered Mayer well after I entered a serious, steady relationship with my current girlfriend, this song and these lyrics quite accurately describe the guy I used to be. ‘Nuff said.

I can`t be her angel now
You know it`s not my place to hold her down
And it`s hard for me to take a stand
When I would take her anyway I can

Have you ever dated someone that can dominate you at will? I don’t mean that in any sort of abusive way, just that he/she can do whatever they want and you’re helpless to stand up for yourself? Yeah, I’ve been there.

Edge of Desire
Don’t say a word just come over and lie here with me
‘Cause I’m just about to set fire to everything I see
I want you so bad I’ll go back on the things I believe

Though that last line is likely referring to contemplating forsaking a relationship with a person, i.e. having an affair, to me it means something different. This is very likely the culmination of multiple factors, and not the direct influence of an individual, but I happen to currently be in a relationship with someone for whom I’m willing to forsake almost an entire belief system (i.e. a religion).

So there you have it. They say that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem and asking for help. So…how about some group therapy?

Head over to the forums and tell me who I *should* be listening to to placate my sappy, hopeless romantic tendencies. Help!