John Mayer Makes Room for Squares
Singer-Songwriter's Work Ethic, Web Strategy Pays Off
Listen to Liane Hansen's interview with John Mayer.
May 28, 2002 -- Even John Mayer admits he's not much good at being a rock-'n'-roll star. The 24-year-old guitarist delivers a smoother, more smoldering sound than your average rocker -- in fact, you could say his music is for squares.
His first major-label release, Room For Squares, is filled with well-crafted, guitar-driven pop songs -- songs about love and about making his way alone in the world for the first time. Mayer's album hasn't received much radio play, but that hasn't stopped it from finding an audience. Mayer tours constantly, and makes tracks available for downloading off the Internet. The strategy has earned the hard-working Mayer a loyal, growing fan base.
Mayer writes his own songs and has been playing guitar since he was 13. He tells All Things Considered guest host Liane Hansen that his style of songwriting is pretty straightforward: Just do it.
"I meet people, still, who say they're songwriters and I say 'Cool, I'm a songwriter too, do you have anything yet?'"
When they reply they haven't written anything yet, Mayer replies: "You know, you better finish a song, because if you don't finish it you're not a songwriter -- you're not even a bad songwriter."
After graduating high school in Connecticut, he enrolled at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. with a dream to write and perform. But the experiment didn't last long.
"My idea was, 'Well, I'll go to a school for music. The worst thing is I'll be in class and I'll have a guitar on my lap.' And so I didn't go for the right reasons." Mayer left Berklee, moved to Atlanta and started playing small gigs around the city. He eventually released a debut acoustic album, Inside Wants Out, in 1999.
He caught the eye of the local media, who praised his music and guitar playing. Now John Mayer just may be on his way to becoming a honest-to-goodness rock star.
Mayer's own Web site, www.johnmayer.com, hosted by his record label, Columbia Records.