Tuesday, May 15, 2007

As John Mayer's critical reviews go up....

Has anyone noticed that as his music becomes more and more critically acclaimed and he grows as a respectable artist, John Mayer’s songs actually get worse?

I first started listening to John Mayer’s music as a college freshmen and I found his voice a little on the weak side but his lyrics were inspiring and the guitar work is amazing. Although one can see more evidence of his guitar work from other sources (an appearance on the Dave Chappelle show, for example), look at the sheet music for “Neon” and just look at how far all over the place the notes jump up and down and how they seem to jump the fences that contain the measures.

I can’t stress how much the lyrics of “No Such Thing” spoke to me and continue to speak to me as a guide through how to brush off the newfound pressures of adulthood that I continue to follow through this day: The good boys and girls who don’t get the answers after reading the books, making the transfers and getting the credits; the expectation of having to plot out our lives in black and white. “My Stupid Mouth” spoke to me about the subtleties of dating, “3 X 5” was about having new experiences, and “Neon” reminded me of practically every encounter with a girl I’d had that year. “Your Body is a Wonderland,” the one that caught on to the masses, seemed a bit sleazy.

The other song of his that really spoke to me was one I heard a year and a half later “Why Georgia” even though it was on the same album*, “Everybody’s just a stranger, but that’s the danger of going my own way, I guess that’s the price I’ll have to pay,” helped me as I was transferring out of one college and going back home for a year.

Sadly, John Mayer’s reputation as being too poppy and just being fodder for teen girls got on his nerves a little and he set out to prove among his peers that he was serious. So he got an electric guitar and that did the trick. He had one single, “Bigger than my Body” that contained brilliant lyrics about exceeding what other people think of you: “Someday I’ll fly, Someday I’ll soar, Cause I’m bigger than my body gives me credit for” but nothing else on his CD was remotely catchy except the song “New Deep,” with lyrics that were overly existential. Confirming my hunch about the Grammys and that they’re not based on anything having to do with talent, John Mayer’s song “Daughters” won an award for best-written song. The lyrics of this song sounds like it was written by a kindergarten teacher at a parent teacher conference: “Fathers be good to your daughters, daughters will love like they do, girls become lovers, then turn into mothers, so mothers be good to your daughters too.” I even remember the original Entertainment Weekly reviewer making fun of those lines too and I wonder why the rest of the entertainment world wouldn’t do the same. Maybe the Grammies were trying to cater to the preschool crowd?

And now he had his third CD which he says finally spoke about what he wanted to say but I think it only spoke to what his musical idols and critics at Rollingstone Magazine wanted to hear because he not only has AN ELECTRIC GUITAR but he CHANNELS THE BLUES. But is he actually saying anything in his new CD? I’ve only heard the two big hit singles: “Gravity” was so insipid and slow, I can’t stay with the song for the full three minutes before changing the radio dial. “Waiting on the World to Change,” is almost a parody of the countless hippie and reggae songs that call for revolution. All I can say, John, is that there’s no need to wait, you’ve already changed the world, or at least mine, by writing intelligent lyrics. Where did that go?

*As much of a John Mayer fan as I was, I only got to know him through the magic of Limewire and not through being one of his CDs per say so that’s why I didn’t write “Why Georgia”

1 comment:

Nissa said...

Well written article.