Saturday, May 31, 2008
Guitar Heroes Redux: The Case for John Mayer
Imagine if you would a casual radio listener whose only understanding of Eric Clapton's career was through the hits "Change the World" and "Tears in Heaven." Although he or she may be inspired by these radio-friendly samples from Clapton's catalogue, they would hardly comprehend his immense genius from such a minute repertoire. The same goes for the Bob Dylan 'fan' who rambles on endlessly about "Blowin' in the Wind's' message of peace without giving a nod to to his other excellent works. Or the Zeppelin fan who jives to "Fool in the Rain" without exploring Page and Plant's anthology from top to bottom. Or the Marley fanatic whose party mix begins and ends with "Jammin'." Musical legends simply cannot be judged superficially. If that were the case, Carlos Santana would only be measured via his Supernatural album, not the masterful body of work that spanned the 1970's. Furthermore, John Mayer's capabilities does not begin and end with "Your Body is a Wonderland;" rather, his abilities can be fathomed through his live performances. This is the same John Mayer that shared the stage with Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck on multiple occasions and was able to hold his own. The John Mayer that was classically trained at Berklee College of Music. The John Mayer whose take on the blues is refreshing and worth a listen (his tenure with the John Mayer Trio, who opened up for the Rolling Stones, wasn't half bad). By no means is John Mayer a legend on par with Santana, Clapton, or Page, but to neglect his guitar work is just plain wrong. Along with the likes of Tom Morello, John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Robert Randolph, Derek Trucks, and Kirk Hammett of Metallica, John Mayer has surfaced as one of the best guitarists of the past fifteen years. Although 31 years of age, Mayer is slowly building the reputation of a praiseworthy guitar player.
(If the videos don't work, run a YouTube search on John Mayer and neglect all the radio hit garbage that you'd truly be misled by).