He’s young. He’s hip. He may just be the best thing to hit pop music since Sting. Who is this mystery man, you ask? John Mayer. And if you haven’t heard of him yet, you will – very, very soon. This Connecticut-born artist began to play the guitar at age 13, and hasn’t stopped since. After attending the Berklee College of Music for a semester, Mayer decided to take a stab at his own music career. He headed to Atlanta and started playing the club scene. After a year, Mayer put together enough music to release his solo album, Inside Wants Out in 1999.

Paul Wong
Mayer wants you to come hither. (Courtesy of johnmayer.com)

In 2001, Mayer released his first major label record, Room for Squares. This album, with its refreshing, honest lyrics and strong guitar rhythms made critics and fans alike beg for more. With catchy songs like “No Such Thing,” “Neon” and “Your Body is a Wonderland,” it is easy to see why Mayer was an instant hit. Mayer admitted that many of the lyrics on Room for Squares were filled with actual stories from his own life: “There’s not a song on there without a little bit of truth. I think it would be really difficult to write a song that didn’t have non-fictitious elements to it,” he told The Michigan Daily.

When asked to classify his music style, Mayer said, “It’s definitely pop music with some jazz influence.” It is no wonder Mayer plays this type of music – his current favorites are Elton John and Jeff Buckley. He has also been listening to a new artist named Nora Jones, a piano player/singer who will be opening up for a few of Mayer’s shows on the West Coast. Mayer said that artist Stevie Ray Vaughan was the one person who really made him want to try out a music career: “He’s an incredible blues guitar player,” Mayer said.

Although Mayer has been compared to Sting, Ben Folds, Dave Matthews and other artists, he does not find this to be a bad thing. “I think it’s great,” he said. “It makes for an objective discussion. It used to threaten me to be compared to other artists, but I don’t feel that at all anymore. Fans define my identity, and because of that, I feel incredibly lucky.”

Because Mayer’s music hasn’t hit mainstream quite yet, many people have had to rely on the Internet to access it. Mayer doesn’t mind this at all, and actually referred to the web as his “saving grace.” He thinks that downloading music should be a freedom of choice. “We all have to embrace technology,” he said. “The Internet has been a great way to have a direct connection with fans. It makes for a true bond. Plus there’s no face or label attached.” Mayer can also see the down side. “With this kind of technology, anything can become living music. It’s a trade off, but I still think it’s worth it.”

Right now Mayer is a month into his tour, and tomorrow he’ll serenade the crowd with his smoky voice and soft lyrics at the Michigan theatre. The audience can look forward to a nice mixture of Mayer’s songs. “I’m not going to be confined to any album track list. Some of the songs will be from Inside Wants Out and others from Room for Squares. Of course they’ll be some that haven’t been on any album yet.” If you were lucky enough to get your hands on a ticket to the sold out show, be prepared to experience the talented, refreshing John Mayer. If you weren’t so lucky, do yourself a favor and download a song, or two or twenty.

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