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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

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Julie

He toured with Herbie Hancock last summer and we saw him! It was a scream. Herbie's polished, slickly dressed team of top notch brass and guitar and percussion... and then John Mayer in worn out jeans and a faded army green polo shirt three sizes too big.... and tennies with holes in the toes.

But man can that guy rip on the guitar. He's phenomenal. His pop tunes don't show off his mad skills.

Hie lyrics.... aren't his. In fact, he got busted for the fact that his lyrics were actually ghostwritten (in Room for Squares). I'm thinking he's doing more writing now.

I am partial to "Real World." I think it's a great song for teens. "Body is a Wonderland" is pretty.

"Daughters" bugs me because the bridge is the same old pigeon holing of roles (boys will be strong, boys soldier on, boys won't become good without a woman's good good touch) Oh puhlease.

Still, I'm a fan. He has a gentle quality that appeals to me... and I think he'll mature into something of a force!

Julie

Scott

He toured with Herbie Hancock last summer and we saw him! It was a scream. Herbie's polished, slickly dressed team of top notch brass and guitar and percussion...

Not to mention his brilliance and importance as an artist. Herbie’s work with Miles during the sixties? Fugheddaboutit. Few albums more magnificent than ESP. And the punk was all of 23 or somefin’ like that at the time. You want mad skills? Them’s beyond mad. Them’s some downright insane chops.

and then John Mayer in worn out jeans and a faded army green polo shirt three sizes too big.... and tennies with holes in the toes.

Sounds like the way I dress! Of course, that’s because, unlike Mayer, I can’t afford to dress better. :) But when I had a real job, I dressed accordingly. See further thoughts on this below.

But man can that guy rip on the guitar. He's phenomenal. His pop tunes don't show off his mad skills.

Oh sure, as mentioned, I absolutely concede he’s a hell of a guitarist. I stipulate, however, that his asinine facial expressions dock his actual musical abilities several points.

His lyrics.... aren't his. In fact, he got busted for the fact that his lyrics were actually ghostwritten (in Room for Squares). I'm thinking he's doing more writing now.

Well, let’s hope that’s a good thing. It’s not always. Hey, Elvis didn’t write his lyrics but at least he was (generally) smart enough to work with good lyricists.

I am partial to "Real World."

Me too!

I think it's a great song for teens.

I don’t. I think it likely to make them cynical ahead of their time. Even more, I fear its pretension will cause lasting damage, as I think it feels worldly without actually knowing a damn thing about the world.

Basically, I think it simply feeds upon the negative stuff kids that age are already feeling without giving any hope—it’s just wallowing in the negativity. Which isn’t surprising. As I said in the original post, it feels like it was written by an eighteen-year-old. It’s Britney Spears (whose music I like) for older kids. That’s the level it’s written on. But it’s then gussied up to feel substantial.

But there are certainly worse things. And it’s catchy—did I mention that?—which goes a long damn way. (And, no, I don't really think it'll do lasting damage. Not lasting. That was just me being snarky. What, me? I know, perish the thought.)

"Daughters" bugs me because the bridge is the same old pigeon holing of roles (boys will be strong, boys soldier on, boys won't become good without a woman's good good touch) Oh puhlease.

This is what I’m sayin’.

Although, actually, upon reflection, no, he’s right on that last one. Boys WILL never become anything of value without a woman around to guide them, shape them, mold them, slap them silly. Hey! THAT must be Mayer’s problem! See? I *tole* you he needed to be slapped. Just more proof that he knows not whereof he sings. And he needs to be slapped. And then he’d know whereof he sings. And stop with the stupid faces already.

Still, I'm a fan. He has a gentle quality that appeals to me... and I think he'll mature into something of a force!

I do not have your optimism but I certainly hope. Oh yes I do. There is never enough good music in the world. And after all, who’d have predicted "Thunder Road" based on "Mary, Queen of Arkansas"? Or Achtung Baby based on October?

Not that I think, in a million years, Mayer has a "Thunder Road" or an Achtung Baby in him, or that October’s as execrable as "Daughters." "Mary, Queen of Arkansas," on the other hand…

And in his favor, he did say this a few years back in an interview:

"But then there's the best line of all time, which isn't in that song. Bruce Springsteen wrote it, and it's the reason that he should have won Album of the Year. I love Norah [Jones], I think Norah is amazing. But in 'My City of Ruins,' where he sings, 'There's tears on the pillow/Darling, where we slept/You took my heart/When you left' -- it's the greatest line ever…If you don't respond to that, you are an android and you should be melted."

Of course, even here he’s wrong. Not only is that not the greatest line ever, it’s not even the greatest line Springsteen ever wrote. Hell’s bells, it’s not even close to being the greatest line on that damn album. So he’s got the right zip code but not even the right neighborhood, never mind the right actual house. What can I say? Further proof that he’s just young and needs him some livin’ and growin’ up. And being a pinhead doesn’t help.

Oh, and along with learning how to play guitar without looking like he’s trying to pass a kidney stone, he needs to learn how to sing like he’s got a pair. I mean, for pete’s sake, when James Taylor’s a more convincing blues singer’n you, you’ve got a serious problem.

Okay. Rant done (for now). On to far more substantive stuff—the aforepromised quote:

"You see, when you say the blues, you know what the average guy is looking for when he comes in—half slouching, raggedy, bottle of wine in your pocket. I wasn't that kind of blues singer. I stayed sharp. If I had anything, it was some of the best.

"That's the kind of blues singer I am...I am an intelligent blues singer. I sing deep, down South blues, straight out of the bottom. But I made myself classy with it.

"People have told me I should be preaching, looking as I do. They'd say, 'I looked to see a man with a pair of overalls on, cap pulled down over his ears, and just as drunk as he could be.'

"And I'd say, 'Not me, baby. I've got my mohair. Not me. That's for the birds.' I am a gentleman with my blues singing...

"You don't have to have a white face to be a gentleman and up to date with what you're doing. You can be black, brown, or any color, but you've got to carry yourself in a way that people know that you're it.

"They might say I can't play, or can't sing, but damn it, they'll say I'm a gentleman."

--Muddy Waters

Now that there was a bluesman. And a musical colossus. And, damn it, a gentleman as well.

Julie

Lol! You are so right about the Boss's line not being his best. Wow. Maybe John Mayer really should have stayed in high school!

Btw, I don't think "Real World" is negative. I think it's optimistic in every way. I think high school is ridiculous and a waste of time. I am one of those renegade unschooler types who is being forced to work with the system of public school because my daughter insists on attending. The description of the school counselor in that song is identical to the conversation my son has had with the same counselor. I want to run screaming through the halls after my meetings with her "smugness."

:)
Julie

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