Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye
For a period of time, during the halcyon days of my youth (about 3/4 years ago), I was commuting back and forth between London and Paris often catching the 5am train to Paris Saturday mornings. On one such morning, tired after a long week and aching for a few extra hours of sleep, I ended up in a carriage with a group of men on a stag trip. For these hardy fellows, the early hour did not prevent them from drinking copious quantities of vodka and embracing the inevitable drunkeness. One of these men, his grasp on propriety loosened by the liquor, decided to change into a neon-coloured Borat-style monokini. He proceeded to parade up and down the carriage, whooping it up to the delight of his buddies, preventing me from getting a couple extra hours of shut-eye. At that moment I thoroughly despised that fellow (I’m ashamed to admit). I also remembered seeing photos of John Mayer wearing a similar style swimsuit, presumably also in jest, and I despised him too for his unwitting role in this sleep-depriving farce.
After all the madness, the seemingly over-the-top Hollywoodness Mr. Mayer took on after achieving mainstream success, this even before the Rolling Stone interview, he morphed into someone I hardly recognized (from my distant fan-perch). Gone was the fresh-faced happy dude who had a hologram of the periodic table on the cover of his debut CD. In his place, we had a fellow who popped up in photos wearing that wretched neon Borat monokini. But through it all, the guy made good music. No question. I find the whole Rolling Stone incident rather unfortunate. Apparently, it was a joke gone terribly wrong. As questionable as I find the content of his dialogue with the magazine, I cannot on those grounds alone draw sweeping conclusions about the man. I also don’t need to. My only job, in this fan-musician relationship is the enjoy the music.
I don’t know how I managed to miss the release of his most recent album, Shadow Days, this past February (actually, I know – the world was imploding financially, politically, and in every other possible dimension), but miss it I did. It was only after listening to a fantastically insightful and surprisingly honest interview Mr. Mayer gave on NPR addressing the 2-year old collateral damage from his former ways that I decided to do a bit of musical sleuthing. From what I’ve heard so far, Shadow Days is fantastic. Mr. Mayer has always been a dab hand with the lyrics (see Daughters), and the song Queen of California off of Shadow Days is classic Mayer lyrical excellence, e.g. I’m Heading out West with my headphones on. Boarded a flight with a song at the back of my soul.
After a week that was turbulent (in a net-positive way), I stopped feeling the need to listen to Kanye West‘s Can’t Tell Me Nothin‘ and put Queen of California on heavy rotation. Now I just feel like heading out to LA and driving around in an el camino; maybe going to Coachella, on a roadtrip or something in that vein.