Someone once asked me, “If you could only listen to one music artist for the rest of your life, who would it be?” For me, the answer was simple: John Mayer. Each of his songs is like a polaroid picture, a snapshot into a singular moment or life event. There’s a sense of magic to polaroid pictures. They develop instantly in your hand, and you’re left with a one-of-a-kind image that must be accepted as is. It’s perfect in its imperfections because it’s real. To me, John Mayer songs are like that. There’s magic in the music and his lyrics. The songs develop over the verses, growing and building until they elicit emotions out of you, and when they end, you’re left with a memory.
Listening to John Mayer songs is an experience for me, and I love that each time I listen to the same song, I come away with a new feeling or thought. Recently, I’ve been really trying to pay attention to John’s song lyrics. A lot of the time, I get caught up in the instrumental aspects of his songs – the way the instruments seem to have subtle conversations with one another underneath the vocals – but lately, I’ve been determined to draw meanings from his lyrics, to figure out just why his songs affect me the way they do. The answer hit me out of no where this morning (while I was listening to John Mayer of course)! It’s because his lyrics contain life lessons, little nuggets of wisdom or tidbits of truth that I myself had experienced or felt but didn’t know how to put into words!
Since then, I’ve had my John Mayer Playlist on repeat, and I thought for today’s lifestyle blog post, I’d share some of the life lessons I’ve drawn from various John Mayer songs over the years.
Unrequited Love, Fears, and Tears
“Edge of Desire” from the album Battle Studies (2009) was the first John Mayer song I remember really loving. It’s still my favorite. Although I’d probably heard his hits “Free Fallin'” and “Waiting on the World to Change” on the radio, it wasn’t until I heard “Edge of Desire” that I truly developed a love for John Mayer. At the time I first heard the song, I had a crush on this boy, and John’s song seem to express everything I was feeling – surely I wasn’t the only one with an unrequited love in high school. Lyrics like “Love is really nothing, but a dream that keeps waking me” and “There I just said it, I’m scared you’ll forget about me” encompassed everything I was feeling but couldn’t say aloud. It helped me to have this song, to be able to go to John’s lyrics and know that someone somewhere else had these same feelings, these same fears about love and life. As I got older and entered into more mature relationships, the song took on a new meaning, and now that I’m with my husband, it feels so good to listen to “Edge of Desire” and know I’ve made it beyond that edge. It’s amazing and terrifying and beautiful all at the same time.
Backstory: “Edge of Desire” had such an impact on me that I still remember where I was and what I was doing the first time I heard it. A freshman in high school, I had to ride with my band director and some students up to the middle school for a music practice. As my band director started his car, “Edge of Desire” came on, and I was left speechless. While the other kids talked, I sat in the back listening. I couldn’t voice one word. The song cut right through me. It still does. I didn’t know what the song was called at the time, I just memorized as many lyrics as I could, went home and Goggled the lyrics to find the song, then listened to it on repeat. Last fall, at my first John Mayer Concert, John actually played “Edge of Desire,” and I just started crying. It was like the young, unfulfilled me caught up with the adult fulfilled me, and the moment mixed together with the live music and his lyrics overwhelmed me to the point of tears.
It’s Okay to Feel Lost, Just Have the Hope that You’ll be Found
“I Will Be Found (Lost at Sea)” from John’s 2012 album Paradise Valley is one of those songs that I forget about then come across in the moments when I need it most. Sometimes in life, I feel lost. Most of us do at some point or another in life, but when I feel lost, I usually tend to think of myself as less than. In the past, those feelings terrified me (especially in my undergraduate years of college) because I associated them with hopelessness. My heart would start beating wildly. I’d look around and there’d be all these people, but I wouldn’t feel like I belonged with any of them.
John’s lyrics taught me that it’s okay to feel a little lost. In fact, it’s okay to feel a lot lost. His lyrics reminded me that even though I’m just “a little birdie in a big old tree,” I’m eventually going to be found. Instead of associating being lost with hopelessness, I started to associate being lost with hope. I went through life completing the activities I enjoyed, living life with hope, not exactly lost but not found either. Then one day a boy in a navy suit and red tie walked into the same frozen yogurt shop I was working at, and when I looked up at him and he smiled shyly at me, I didn’t feel lost anymore. John was right. If you’re feeling lost, hang in there. Keep that hope. You’ll be found.
I Change, You Change, People Change… and That’s Good
From his latest album The Search for Everything, the song “Changing” really is one of those hidden gems with a killer guitar solo that I often play on my air guitar in the car when no one’s riding with me.
I’m one of those people who isn’t too fond of change, which is bad considering it happens ALL THE TIME. Change is inevitable. With time, age, and events, we all change. John Mayer is 40 years old, and he admits he’s still changing. This song helps me better accept all the changes around me. Don’t get upset when the people around you change because it’s just a part of life. Your friends will change. Your parents will change. Your significant other will change. You’ll change. Embrace it.
You’re Not the Only One Checking Out Your Ex or Old Crush Online
Another song from Paradise Valley, “Dear Marie” is one of my favorite John Mayer songs for the instrumental parts as well as for the lessons in the lyrics. While I do believe there are more serious lessons to be learned from this song, I thought I’d share a more comical lesson: everyone checks out their ex(s) and old crushes on social media or the Internet. I do it. You do it. Every time I hear the lyric, “From time to time, I go looking for your photograph online” I just can’t help but imagine John Mayer – popular musician and womanizer – looking up some crush from his teenage years and coming across a middle-aged overweight male county judge from the state of Ohio.
In all seriousness though, “Dear Marie” gets me every time I listen to it. It’s one of those songs with a great storyline: a famous man asking a girl from his childhood to remind him of the type of guy he used to be then begging her to still believe in him. I always feel sad for John in this song. He admits to getting his dream but acknowledges that his dream has gotten away from him. Perhaps we can all relate in some way to this song. Everyone looks back on their lives, the people they’ve met, the dreams they’ve achieved… This song is all about looking back, and it’s beautiful.
When You Find Yourself in the War of Your Life, Don’t Be Scared
Another song from Battle Studies, “War of My Life,” really is one of those coming-of-age songs that leads me to believe we all experience different personal “wars” in our lives over the years. It’s up to us as individuals to either tuck tail and run or stay and fight. It doesn’t matter that John’s at this major door in his life, he’s also at the core of his life and that’s worth fighting for. In this moment, I am in the core of my life – that’s the mentality I’ve opted to adopt and you should to. I’m in the core of my life, and it’s worth fighting for.
Also, in the opening of the song, John calls out to the angels, old ghosts, and darkness to come out so he can confront them. We all need to develop the courage to do that, to confront those old ghosts that haunt us. If you ever find yourself in a war of your life, don’t run. Don’t be scared. Don’t give up. Fight on.
Even John Mayer Gets Friend-Zoned
John Mayer’s latest single “New Light” feels like an 80s soul song, and I love it. A return to the bluesy guitar playing of his past, “New Light” is all about the dreaded friend-zone and getting that uninterested person to take a second look in your direction.
There are so many good lyrics in this song that carry such vivid images, and there are many lessons to be drawn from lyrics like “Who cares what other people say anyway. Oh, we can go far from the end and make a new world together baby.” Personally, there’s just something about imagining John Mayer being friend-zoned that makes me laugh. Still, the song teaches that you shouldn’t care what other people say. It teaches that if you’re in the friend-zone, you should fight for one night outside of it. You shouldn’t give up on love until you’ve been seen in a new light. Put all that love that’s running through your veins to use, and fight for one night in a new light. Note: If you haven’t seen the music video: Do it, now!
It’s Okay To Break Your Plans for Love
I’m going to be honest, I was a little nervous sharing a lesson I’ve learned from John Mayer’s song “Your Body is A Wonderland,” but here goes… (Don’t worry, I’m keeping it rated G folks!) This fun, sexy song taught me that it is okay to break off the plans you had for love... or lovin’ in John’s case. The reason I’m sharing this is because it’s currently a lesson I’m learning in my marriage. I’m one of those people who constantly works – on school, on bettering myself, on my personal writing projects – and recently my husband confronted me about letting lose and giving him the same amount of attention I give to other areas of my life. Let’s get one thing straight, my husband and I care for one another, but I can easily get in my head when it comes to things I feel I need to do. I’m learning that plans, even big ones, can and should be broken on occasion for love. Hey my Sweet Southern Mr., want to break some big plans later?
End of This Record
The lessons above are just a few of the many John Mayer offers up in his songs. Just keep in mind that it’s one thing to learn a lesson and another to apply that lesson to your life. If you have listened to John Mayer, then I hope you’ll share some of the life lessons you’ve taken away from his songs below. If you’ve never really listened to John’s music, I’d encourage you to at least click on one of the links above and listen. Regardless, I’d love to know in the comments below which artist you’d listen to if you could only listen to one for the rest of your life, and as always, feel free to connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Until next time my darlin’,