Dear John Mayer...

Last updated 10:56 17/11/2009

Battle Studies

Hi John Mayer, we have never met, but I keep getting sent your CDs. Just last night I was sent your most recent album (released today in New Zealand). It's called, as you will already know, Battle Studies.

About a year and a half ago I wrote about you, for this blog. This time I figure I will write to you. Anything to try to get the message across...

The reason I wrote last time was because you had just released this - live CD/DVD. You were trying to be taken seriously as a serious musician. You had appeared on Eric Clapton's guitar festival concert DVD and some of your fans who still listed Your Body Is a Wonderland as a guilty pleasure had a new set of excuses for continuing to like your music. They were able to quote you playing The Police's Message in a Bottle and reference your love for the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan.

And it annoyed me, John Mayer, because, the way I figured it...well here's what I said last time I wrote about you. You probably didn't read it, so anyway, I said:

When a guy that is singing songs about people's bodies being like children's theme-parks then starts jamming with players of the calibre of Steve Jordan (drums) and Pino Palladino (bass) it is time for concern; more concerning is that, in a way, Mayer was showing he had some chops.

I also called you out, John Mayer, for that silly voice you continue to put on:

It is so obviously put on. So affected. It still sounds silly. John Mayer talks relatively normally. And then he moves in front of a microphone and we get Eddie Vedder-sings-Michael Franks (with laryngitis). Dear lord.

And your "serious musician" work as The John Mayer Trio with this album was dismissed by me as being ultimately lacklustre blues-rock, a seeing-eye version of Jeff Healey's middling work.

Thing is, John Mayer, the reason you bugged me (and still bug me) is because you have created a cult where a bunch of people see you as a serious musician who just happened to take a shot at being a pop star because it was handed to you and then decided you would make a bid for seriousness on the side.

In fact, the way I put it last time was:

Mayer does not deserve the chance to redeem himself with his white-boy blues and folky guitar antics. He made his choice. He allowed the music industry to package him up. And he needs to stay in that box. And be that guy. He can try his best to be Michael Hedges or Pat Metheny. But he'll still be plying two-hand acoustic tapping on a custom harp-guitar to the sound of Your Body Is a Wonderland.

And I stand by that. But this is where I kick myself, John Mayer, I really do. I threw out a wee taunt to you, a slightly barbed challenge. I suggested that you made your sappy-pop bed when you signed your life away on the line. And I told you to quit pretending to put your alleged pedigree to use and go back to making music so lame I won't even be sent copies of it and won't have to try to form an opinion of it.

I concluded with the cheap shot (or Cold Shot perhaps, since you're a fan of Stevie Ray Vaughan) that your body of work is no wonderland.

Was that the bit that did it, John Mayer? It must have been.

Because, sure enough John Mayer, with Battle Studies, you have gone back to making lame music. But I still have to say something about it. I have to form an opinion on it. And you are further dragging Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino down with you, I see from the liner notes; because you would hardly notice from their playing.

Jordan is a great drummer - a great thinker behind the skins and in the producer's chair - but really anyone could be playing this uninspired dross.

And your cover of Crossroads, John Mayer, is a joke. It sounds like you hooked up a version of Guitar Hero to play through a portable iPod docking-station/speaker-set.

If you are going to let people gush on about your blues credentials, John Mayer, and you yourself are going to cover something by Robert Johnson - a blues standard in fact - then please make an effort to play it with some soul and feeling. Also the solo you pinch out on opening song HeartbJohn Mayerreak Warfare is something Jeff Beck should probably be looking into legal action over; in much the same way as Tom Waits did with those ad-companies that hired voice impersonators.

Later, on Who Says, you ask the question, "who says I can't get stoned?" Well, John Mayer, if you'd stand still long enough - i.e. stop releasing awful, awful music, then I would be willing to place you up against a wall and lob the first rock.

So, John Mayer, please do me the favour of never releasing another major label album again. It will only end up in my letterbox, the "no junk" sign was seemingly ignored.

Yours truthfully...

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167 comments
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Ian   #1   11:15 am Nov 17 2009

So you didn't like the new tracks then? I have really enjoyed the last few CDs - shame you can't listen to the music for what it is rather than trying to put him in box that says pop music.

Lisa   #2   11:24 am Nov 17 2009

Ok so he's never going to be the greatest musician in the world and yes I think "your body is a wonderland" is a lame song. But it's like comparing real cheese and plastic cheese. Of course the plastic cheese is going to fall short. And note my use of "cheese" for the metaphor. He's not that bad. I don't like the guy as a person, but i do like his music.

knailed   #3   11:24 am Nov 17 2009

Bravo Simon, bravo!

Sylvian   #4   11:26 am Nov 17 2009

Well done Simon. It's just the sheer mediocrity I can't stand. Very, very lame, white boy, ersatz, saccharine blues. I'm falling asleep just writing this....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Chris   #5   11:45 am Nov 17 2009

This website is in dire need of decent reviewers. What a childish, ignorant fellow this one is.

MsM   #6   11:50 am Nov 17 2009

Now who's starting to sound repetitive....?

Erin   #7   12:02 pm Nov 17 2009

John Mayer appeals to me neither as a musician or a person-he comes off as 'god's gift to everyone'.

Everyone who wants herpes.

Adrian   #8   12:03 pm Nov 17 2009

You know what... I NEVER like John Mayer. Your Body Is A Wonderland is possibly one of the worst songs I've ever heard. He's been a staple of measurement on www.hotchickswithdouchebags.com and I really thought he was deserving...

But then... I heard tracks like 'Everyday I Have The Blues'... I saw him on The Chappelle Show and he was funny... I started following him on Twitter and he was even funnier... and I can't help but think that here might actually be a very talented musician and genuinely decent guy, who perhaps just realized he could rob the masses blind with a little bit of pop stuff here and there. I'd almost file him next to Justin Timberlake.

I don't know what it is, because I generally can't stand most of the stuff they put out, but the odd appearance in some sort of comedy situation or the odd funny quote and a good track and it seems to make me want to offer them redemption for their past.

In my opinion, he's now filed under the talented-musician-caught-up-in-a-bit-of-the-pop-music-whirlwind-but-is-kinda-funny-and-probably-not-such-a-bad-guy category. See also: Eminem and perhaps even Dizzie Rascal.

The Sceneman   #9   12:14 pm Nov 17 2009

If you dont like this blog why comment? I give Simon Sweetman props for calling it like he sees it. Buttersoft silky boys such as Mayer, Black Seeds and "Fat Freddys" have received the pissing on they deserve. Keep it up Simon

darren   #10   12:19 pm Nov 17 2009

I felt that his version of crossroads, as shown in snippet form last night on Campbell Live, was elevator ready. Yawn. And singing Crossroads in the faux croon whisper such as Mr Aniston did, should be made a crime. But I guess there needs to be something out there to play at dinner parties...particuarly at the end of the night when you want people to leave.


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