Check the hashtags on Twitter or Tumblr, folks: John Mayer is back. This might make some pop culture enthusiasts' skin crawl, yet for those who remember the glory days of Grammy wins, number-one albums, and the brilliant resurrection of true blues with the John Mayer Trio, a guitar god has yet again arisen. In the past week, Mayer has announced his newest record, Paradise Valley, out August 13, and the album's first single, "Paper Doll." The release of Paradise Valley comes just 15 months after 2012's Born and Raised -- impressive for a man who's been hiding out for the first few years of the 2010s.
Yet like most things that have John Mayer's brand upon them, "Paper Doll" and the LP are going to polarize everyone -- again. Mayer's been at it for 12 years now, and he became tabloid fodder somewhere around the release of 2005's Continuum. While he's been nothing but a polarizing figure, from his musicianship to public profile, it's time to absolve John Mayer of his sins, regardless of any previous asshole-like shortcomings, and reflect on some of the better moments of his career.
From the earliest snippets of "Paper Doll," we're afforded a look into yet another departure from Mayer's most recent theme: The road-weary wanderer whose persona and musical stylings have drawn comparisons to Neil Young. "Paper Doll," however different from John Mayer as a mountain man, is the closest thing to a reprise of 2003's Heavier Things, an album whose sparse production and ambient elements shifted Mayer's style for the first time.
He motivated young minds in his Berklee College of Music lecture
At the height of Continuum's success and before Battle Studies, we find Mayer as engaging as ever while baring his creative processes in a Berklee College of Music clinic.
Though he only attended the prestigious art institute for two semesters, Mayer attributes much of his songwriting prowess to his time spent at Berklee. Mayer offers a world of insight into craft for any creative mind while cracking jokes, often at his own expense. Peppered with solo live renditions of some of his greatest hits, Mayer's Berklee clinic paints him in a softer light -- and he makes one hell of a professor.
After the jump: Two more instances of John Mayer not being an asshole.
He demonstrates humility when it's called for
The Playboy Magazine interview debacle, for those living under a singer-songwriter rock, took place in 2010, when Mayer went on the record about Jessica Simpson's sexual prowess and made thinly veiled racist remarks. It's the defining Mayer-backlash moment, the interview in which his TMI remarks abruptly became TM.
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While the rest of the modern world seemingly crucified him for his insensitivity, Mayer was nothing but sensitive while playing "Gravity" at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on the date of the interview's release. In the midst of the song, Mayer breaks into a tearful monologue, admitting his faults and selfishness before launching into an incendiary solo that's befitting of "Gravity"'s emotionally charged lyrics. Where most artists may have been guarded and distant, Mayer's onstage admission was a public attempt to humble himself immediately after his offending statements went public.
He's got hometown pride Retreating to the wilds of Montana after his self-inflicted media wounds, Mayer avoided the spotlight of his usual New York or Los Angeles mainstays and bunkered down in the Montana town of Paradise Valley, hence the inspiration behind this year's album. When a wildfire raged through the rural community near his homestead, Mayer took to his local venue for a benefit concert, enlisting local talent to open for him and the Zac Brown Band.
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It was as befitting a moment as any to mark his return to the stage after a two-year vocal hiatus, the result of a vocal granuloma that forced him to sideline his Born and Raised tour. Rather than enlisting a PR stunt in the limelight to announce his recovery, Mayer used his regained ability to raise $100,000 for his new home through the concert.