Monday, November 2nd, 2009

John Mayer – Who Says

How will Jukebox people react to the guitar?…


Alex Ostroff: Look. John Mayer may certainly be a talented blues guitarist slumming it in the world of soft rock to make an easy buck. And he knows it. But don’t underestimate him, because just when you think he’s all schmaltz and songs about daughters, he drops a gem like this. “Who Says” enters your ears as an extended pot joke, and slowly reveals itself to be a nostalgia trip through the memories of a hundred wasted nights, tinged with emptiness, claustrophobia and the need to get out of one’s skin. If twenty years from now Mayer has taken Randy Newman’s place as composer of Toy Story theme songs, he’ll have earned it with this.

Michaelangelo Matos: Why are his lyrics so much less knowing or smart than his interviews? Because he knows what sells, which is drawled self-pity and/or regard. Let’s just hope he doesn’t end up like older singer-songwriters such as Carly Simon, suing Starbucks because, as she whined to the New York Times recently, her label going broke made it harder to find producers to work with: “All of a sudden you’re the ugliest girl at the prom, and you’re not picked.” But John sounds so happy-go-lucky-fuck-the-world about getting stoned he probably doesn’t care.

Spencer Ackerman: A plaintive and juvenile plea to engage in selfish, self-indulgent and utterly bourgeois behavior without apology. Uninteresting guitar line, rigidly predictable pop-structure, vocals — you guessed it; I guess it’s appropriate — absurdly high in the mix. “I don’t remember you looking any better/ But then again I don’t remember you.” Why the fuck would anyone ever listen to this?

Anthony Easton: I love this song. I love the Laurel Canyon langorous pleasure, I love how he slurs the words New York City, the tension between remembering and forgetting, the country hint in namechecking Austin and Baton Rouge or how he sings “county line”, plus how the drug sounds like the song. I think this is going to end up on my morning after, making eggs in the morning mix, if I ever stayed longer then a couple of hours, which is sort of the point.

Chuck Eddy: Things I don’t dislike about this: (1) The clinking glasses and honking horns and crowd chatter and other incidental night noises at the start. (2) The rough-ish grain of Mayer’s voice, at least at first. (3) The sneaky forward push of his vocal rhythms. (4) The intermittent prettiness of the chorus. None of which, oddly, makes me enjoy the song much. Maybe some country guy like Dierks Bentley should cover it, though.

Mallory O’Donnell: The ambient noises that begin this recording are more interesting than any “actual music” that John Mayer has ever made or will ever make.

Alfred Soto: The production – harmonium, piano, harmonies – epitomizes discretion and thoughtfulness. The attempt at lyrical assholery (“Then again, I don’t remember you”) will horrify his fans and cause Jennifer Aniston to twinkle knowingly. If Mayer-the-vocalist wasn’t so intent on wanting to buy you a sugar cookie and chai I might cop to this. I thought he had enough money to steer clear of mixed intentions.

Anthony Miccio: It’s official — risking glibness and owning his privilege is John’s big theme. While it’s a refreshing and rich one for a white male singer-songwriter, that “then again, I don’t remember you” crack says not whining doesn’t mean you’re over yourself. If he doesn’t learn heaven is other people soon, he may wind up a cranky objectivist.

John Seroff: Give Mayer credit: it’s not like anybody else understood that America was clamoring for a younger, cuter Arlo Guthrie. Dude saw a void and filled it. “Who Says” is a ten minute hayride, a robin’s egg blue repainting of the living room, a bowling shoe that fits properly. It is simple, amiable and nothing much to write home about, but it’ll do fine for track eight on that Thanksgiving-with-the-parents dinner mix you’re putting together. Track nine? Sunn O))).

One Response to “John Mayer – Who Says”

  1. dierks bently cover is a good idea.