I’m retrieving this post from last March for #JMAD. It’s as true now as it was just a few months ago.
Evolution of a JM fan - no apologies necessary
I first started really noticing John Mayer in 2006 when he released his Continuum CD. It wasn’t Waiting On the World to Change, or Gravity (though the latter will remain a favourite for all the reasons fellow fans - and any good guitar player or songwriter - will understand). It was the entire album and the obvious talent and passion put into it.
Since I was so late to the game I had a good deal of catching up to do, and I made short work of it. People in my life thought I was obsessed, that it had to do with his cuteness and public persona. Not at all. What I recognized immediately in his work was true artistry and in him, a true artist. In a world where marketing, not necessarily talent, sells records and twelve year olds are getting mega-record deals, here was a guy who had obviously put in the work on the guitar and learned very young how to craft not only great pop songs, but songs that were radio-friendly AND deep enough to lend themselves to soulful arrangements which he could manipulate in concert to suit his mood and that of each individual audience. So, add music arranger to his full to overflowing suitcase of talents.
I got hooked. No different than when, as a teenager I discovered the incredible songwriting team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, or as recently as last year I fell in love with the writing of Richard Yates and proceeded to consume everything he’d ever published. It’s why I follow Doug Coupland’s prolific and purely artistic career. I could go on, but you get my drift.
I was well on my way to becoming a super-fan around the time John Mayer became everyday mean gossip fodder and soon enough I had to defend my interest in him, his music and hide my admiration for his creativity.
Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time talking and sharing with other JM fans (big shout out to the JM family here on tumblr, that has led me to audio and video that I never would have found on my own and given me a great sense of community) and it’s been a relief to be able to do so, without judgments. Mind you, until now, it’s been something I’ve done in relative secrecy. But I’m no longer interested in hiding it. Why should I? Why should we?
John Mayer is probably one of the most generous artists around. He has a connection with fans that runs deep - he knows it and he respects it. He does things like singing brand news songs in tiny clubs, knowing that they will be taped and bootlegged around the internet even though they are rough approximations of what they’ll be on the next album. He doesn’t tease his audience for a months on end with a future date when he’ll sneak peek his songs thereby amassing a record audience that he can then brag about in the press. He just sneaks into a club, picks up his guitar and sings. How cool is it that we then get to walk around with those brand new gems in our iPods before the world at large even hears them?
Last week he spent an entire day at Berklee talking to music students about the songwriter process, giving them valuable information on not just music, but the business, and the fights you have with yourself and those around you for your creativity. To keep it pure. No easy feat. He was scheduled for a few hours but stayed into the night to listen to every song and give feedback to anyone who wanted to play for him.
I spent 3 hours of today listening to his advice to those lucky kids. I’m not a songwriter, and yet as a creative person struggling with distraction and negative self-talk, I was relieved to hear what he had to say. Creatives understand creatives and we need each other.
Yesterday, feeling a little down because I sense myself going through a massive internal change that will mean I have to move forward and leave some things, and people, behind - I shut the world out (FB, tumblr, Twitter, texting, phone, everything) and just turned my speakers up, listened and sang along. (Just like I used to do to Madman Across the Water, an Elton John album created just for me, I thought) Every single JM song spoke to me equally. That’s how good he is- the music is as meaningful and communicative as the words, more-so, because he’s so damn good at that guitar, he pours every ounce of passion into it every time.
In the end, the thing that unites JM music appreciation fans is the heart and soul we can feel in every single damn note of every single song, even the covers. Sometimes esp. the covers as he pays homage to his music mentors.
Mr. Mayer deserves every award he’s ever received and every bit of success. He’s been practicing and experimenting on that guitar since his teens and it shows. He’s a truly adventurous creative talent and I will no longer apologize for enjoying him. That’s just plain dumb. Following his career and listening to his insights about creativity helps foster my own and as a person who has very little support or mentorship, it’s too important an element to stash away. On the contrary, I now want to share it.
Music matters, creativity matters. They both save lives.