John Mayer On Getting His Voice Back

Multi-platinum and Grammy Award-winning musician John Mayer joins NPR for a special Thanksgiving performance and interview Thursday. Mayer's vocal chords were damaged by a growth two years ago, but have healed after a series of treatments including surgery and Botox injections. In this preview of their conversation, Mayer talks with Ari Shapiro about what it was like to get his voice back.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Tomorrow on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, Grammy Award-winning musician John Mayer brings his guitar - and his quick wit - to our studios.

JOHN MAYER: It's like guitar tuning and paper medical records are like the two things that you look at and you're like, how is this still happening? (Laughter)

(SOUNDBITE OF GUITAR PLAYING)

CORNISH: Mayer's on the road with a new album, "Paradise Valley," named after the place in Montana where he's made a home. And John Mayer is taking great pleasure in singing live again. A growth on his vocal cord threatened his career for nearly two years. He tried voice rest and surgery. But as Mayer tells our guest host, Ari Shapiro, the treatment that worked - botox injections - paralyzed his vocal cords and finally allowed them to heal.

MAYER: (Whispering) This time last year, I probably sounded like this. I was sounding exactly like this - like, back then.

I remember right around New Year's, going (Singing) I wanna - going, wow, that sounded like me for the first time. And then in January, I did a show, and all I had was about three or four notes. In April, I did...

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Wait. You mean you got up on stage to perform.

MAYER: Yeah, it was a...

SHAPIRO: You sang in front of an audience with only three or four notes?

MAYER: It was a fundraiser, actually, for the fire department out in Montana. And so we raised, you know, a really good amount of money. And so that, I think, was a good way to kind of return to the stage without people saying hey, give me my money back.

(LAUGHTER)

MAYER: I think charity would've been the only way that I could've sung and not have people throw things at me. And I remember back then, it was like I couldn't even - and who says I couldn't go (Singing) It's been a long night. It was like (Singing) It's been a long night in New York City. I mean, I had (Singing) dun, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na. That was about all I had.

CORNISH: Clearly, he's got more now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUEEN OF CALIFORNIA")

MAYER: (Singing) Goodbye cold, goodbye rain. Goodbye sorrow and goodbye shame.

CORNISH: A Thanksgiving conversation with John Mayer, tomorrow on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUEEN OF CALIFORNIA")

MAYER: (Singing) In the back of my soul that no one knows. I just found out a ghost left town. The queen of California is steppin' down, down, down. Hello, beauty. Hello, strange. Hello, wonder. What's your name? I'm gone looking for the sun...

CORNISH: This is NPR News.

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