Maybe give Mayer a chance


Carson Eckert, Staff Columnist

A couple of summers ago at a sleepaway camp, my bunkmates and I were sitting around a welcoming fire we had brought to life in the woods of Maine. As we relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company, our counselor wanted to play some music on his speaker to match the mood.

As the mellow guitar intro to “Rosie,” John Mayer’s song, reverberated through the forest, our initial skepticism transformed into unanticipated enjoyment, and we immediately requested the song again, this time singing along as best we could. I’ll always remember the 10 of us singing that song as we sat around the surging fire surrounded by the beautiful Maine wilderness.

A 43-year- old singer- songwriter and master guitarist from Bridgeport, Connecticut, John Mayer became a breakout star during the early 2000s, thanks to the widespread success of his first album, “Room For Squares.” It was released in 2001 and is a pop-rock album filled with mainly acoustic guitar. But since then, John Mayer has expanded his artistic depth by exploring new genres such as blues and country-rock. John Mayer has seven incredible studio albums and seven more live albums released throughout his career. He is one of those rare musicians with an almost flawless discography. Of his 81 released songs, only three don’t interest me as much as his others— an incredible ratio achieved by few other artists I’ve ever heard.

But now, the important part: what you should listen to. John Mayer’s large collection of music featuring different styles mixed into different albums can make his musical landscape daunting to explore. The best place to start for any aspiring John Mayer fan is his third studio album, “Continuum,” which also happens to be my favorite album of all time. With 49 minutes of consistently great music, “Continuum” is absolute perfection that everyone can enjoy. This album is very blues- rock inspired, with songs that contain intricate chords on electric guitar over steady drum rhythms. Whoever reads this should think of it as a personal favor to me to listen to “Stop This Train” at least once. It’s the only song on the album that strictly features acoustic guitar and is a heartwarming message to his parents about not wanting to get older.

And John Mayer is so much more than just that album. His fourth studio album, “Battle Studies,” is a great next step in your exploration of his musical inventory. This album is soft rock, which is an approachable genre if the blues music of “Continuum” isn’t for you. My personal favorite song from the album, and one generally well-liked among other John Mayer fans, is “Who Says.”

For those interested in country music, John Mayer began experimenting more with that genre and folk music from 2012 to 2013, when he recorded and released his fifth and sixth albums. Many people like to stay away from country music these days, but I assure you, these are great albums. I do not consider myself a fan of country music whatsoever, but I still find these albums really easy to listen to because of their songs’ meaningful lyrics and beautiful melodies. They showcase John’s incredible songwriting talent with new ideas and sounds in his unique style. From his fifth album, “Born and Raised,” you should at least listen to “The Age of Worry,” a fun song accompanied by upbeat lyrics you can sing along with. John Mayer’s sixth album, “Paradise Valley,” is my second favorite of his and definitely one you should check out. This album was inspired by John Mayer’s move to Montana, and songs like “On The Way Home” emphasize the album’s outdoorsy themes.

Finally, if you prefer more traditional rock and find “Battle Studies” too soft, listen to his second album, “Heavier Things.” This album doesn’t have any acoustic guitar but instead provides larger instrumental arrangements consisting of bass, piano, trumpet, and more. The first song on the album, “Clarity,” is a good example of what you’ll find.

What I love about John Mayer’s music is how easily I connect to it. Along with just appreciating its goodness, I can understand what he is feeling in each song and can apply the songs’ contexts to my own life. My wish is that by doing the same and appreciating John Mayer’s expansive music catalog, you too won’t be deterred by his generic title of pop artist. I know not everybody can have as nice an introduction to his music as I did, but hopefully, this column inspires you to give John Mayer’s music a chance.