In 2001, Room For Squares was huge for me, way up on my 6 CD-changing stereo rotation. John Mayer was often chosen above the other hits that summer—over Jessica Simpson and 98 Degrees, Blink 182 and Mandy Moore. There was something so rustic about the Connecticut born newcomer, his voice a little edgy but his guitar strums romantic as hell. "Neon," "3 x 5"... I was smitten; my mom was a big fan too.
Over the next decade and a half, John slowly fell out of my heart. I paid attention, but lost my lust. Yes, there were stand out tracks on his next 5 studio albums ("Vultures" from 2006's Continuum is still one of my favorites), but I didn't care for the twangy, cheesy sounds that became consistent in his music. And, Mayer's developing reputation for douchery, his womanizing, and the many slips of tongue did not help his case. "There have probably been days when I saw 300 vaginas before I got out of bed," he told Playboy in 2012 of his pornography habit. Really, dude?
In Mayer's defense, it would be unfair to say he didn't forewarn us of his knack for dumb-ass comments (there were plenty more, here's another example of blabbery in Rolling Stone) from the beginning: track 3 on the Room For Squares is entitled "My Stupid Mouth."
Refreshingly, in the first two waves of his upcoming album, The Search For Everything, there's an obvious rewind to the tender sounds that I fell so hard for as a 12 year old. "Still Feel Like Your Man" is a charming, sharp and upbeat harmony—not to mention the vulnerability of a song clearly written for an ex (ahem, Katy Perry). And "You're Going To Live Forever In Me" has that feel good James Taylor-esque quality that sticks. The lyrics allude to a certain 'I know I fucked up' ("If I'm helpless, tell me now, and I'll stop trying to figure it out," he sings in "Helpless"), but I truly believe the man wants to turn a new leaf.
So, I think I'm ready to give him another chance, open up my heart for John once again. For as perverted as he very well may be, his music is so at odds with the man in the interview. Why would such a vile casanova sing such sensitive, wooing sounds (as opposed to, say, someone like The Weeknd, who shamelessly admits "I only fuck you when it's half past 5")? Music speaks louder than words, my friends. "I may be old and I may be young, but I am not done changing," he croons on Wave One of his new album, plainly seeking our forgiveness. I accept.
The full The Search For Everything is out April 14th from Columbia Records.