influences.

first off, i want you to watch this video. nothing could be better than starting a blog with this treasure:

i’ll get to that later. moving on…

i love artistic influence. let me explain what i mean. on days when i have absolutely no obligations, there is nothing more enjoyable than spending hours at a time reading blogs, watching youtube videos, checking people’s websites. granted, i am specific in all this; i’m not just a random youtube searcher or anything like that. i don’t waste my time with crap. i love catching up with my entertainment world heroes. i enjoy it when these big stars, people whose creative work i greatly admire, put time into something personal like a blog or an interview that’s on youtube or something like that. i love taking one of my favorite stars and checking their myspace, to see if they’ve posted a goofy new video or giving us a little glimpse of some new project they’re working on. you have to understand the distinction though, because it’s important. i don’t like following up on who’s dating who, who was seen at this club, look at how much this person spent on clothes and cars for their latest music video. that stuff is obnoxious and wasteful. i care about real artistic creativity. and i don’t mind if it’s a comedian or a singer or an architect or whatever. as long as it’s somebody whose work i respect and i am seeing a bit of their thought process, the way they view their craft and the way they’re committed to creativity, i absolutely love it.

i am mainly writing about john mayer here. for about the last two months or so, i have been getting really excited for whatever john mayer is doing next musically, because from keeping up with his blog, you can learn so much of what is going into his next record. and it’s incredible how diverse this guy’s influences are. first of all, his blogs are the most well-thought, well-written, personal, funny, creative, celebrity blogs i’ve stumbled onto. some of his posts are the most random ever (this is just one of numerous examples.)(<-you can click that, it’s not a virus or anything. all the links in this blog are legit, i put them all up, and there are a ton of them, all of which i suggest you check out.) and some of his posts are much more personal, giving the reader a small window into his heart or his head. and i love that. he’s so candid about what influences him. here is a run down of (to me) the most important blogs he’s posted in the last few months.

(in chronological order):
1. Nov. 20th, 07 – Pop Rocks (read it here.)
this is a long ways back, but it’s such gold, i can’t not let you know about it. it’s just a few words from john mayer about his then-current favorite songs on the radio. i love this guy as a writer, he puts things exactly how i would like to put things. in fact i’m usually jealous he beats me to the perfect thought. here though: “They’re great. Not ‘actually’ great, as in I expected them to suck and I’m reluctantly giving it up’ great.” such a great thought. too many people talk about pop music this way. i hear it most when i tell people i like justin timberlake, and they reply with “oh yeah that new single he’s got is actually really great.” of course it is. you didn’t need to throw in actually. who are all these haters expecting pop music to suck so bad? i also want to echo john’s sentiment about the songs by paramore, sara bareilles, and alicia keys. all awesome tunes. i do want to give a big thumbs down to the jordin sparks song though. “you’re on my heart like a tattoo”…? i heard it once and that was enough. other than that though, i think he’s right on with this blog.

2. Jan. 9th, 08 – Comedy Cellar (read it here.)
so simple. consists of a sentence and a half and three pictures. and it gets me so excited. he saw two of the greatest stand-up comedians of our time at a small venue in new york and posted this. neither of these comedians are working on anything big right now; no big stand-up tours, no tv shows. yet they are still two of the best the generation before mine produced, and to see them together is exciting for this day and age. it’s exciting to see two giants interact when so much of what is out there today is no good. the other reason this is exciting to me is because it’s affecting john mayer in the way he views stand-up and writing. for the last year and a half john mayer has been dabbling in stand-up comedy, occasional doing a short set at the comedy cellar in the new york or appearing on radio and talk shows as a sit-down guest rather than a musical guest. at first i didn’t know what to think about it, but as i learned more about why he’s doing it, it’s so intriguing to me. stand-up comedy appeals to this guy because so much of his essence is a writer. he’s a phenomenal musician of course but writing is such a huge part of who he is. and stand-up comedy is such a different vein of writing than writing lyrics or notes is. and to be good at something, it’s important to look at it from every different angle possible; to examine it from all sides and to learn it back and forth and inside out. this stand-up venture is his attempt to better himself as a writer. and that’s exciting. this just kills me though, “more musical than most music…” the way john mayer views creativity fascinates me. he doesn’t seem constrained by any kind of fixed design of how to be creative or how to create. he takes in as much as he can, digests it, absorbs what he can, and his work is so much the better for it. this is the reason continuum was such an exceptional album; you can hear his influences in every single song, and yet all of it is so original. so that’s why this blog is great.

2. Jan. 14th, 08 – Messin Round (read it here.)
this is a very, very exciting blog to me. one of my Top 5 Favorite Artists being directly influenced by another one of my Top 5 Favorite Artists. “Starting to get back into the production head, searching for new sounds on a Sunday afternoon…” and what he goes to for new sounds is justin timberlake. does this excite anyone else? especially because he is taking the best part of one of the best songs off futuresex/lovesounds and covering it. and it sounds amazing. going back to the “pop rocks” blog, i loved what he said about this tune because he actually did specify that the interlude was the best part of the song and i don’t know, i just think that’s a cool, important distinction to make, and it really makes me think he is keeping a very very close eye on pop music. so keep listening to that stuff john. it will only make you better.

3. Jan. 25th, 08 (read it here.)
not so much a blog about influences, but just a picture that keeps us aware that he is still a musician, and making music is still his passion. and what a killer studio too. whatever record he comes up with next will sound amazing.

4. Feb. 15th, 08 – MacBook Air. Gumball 3000 / Ford GT Road Test (read part 1 & part 2.)
the gumball 3000 is a gigantic car “race” among celebrities. a more accurate description is a bunch of rich celebrities take rich cars out, drive around the world together (literally around the world), and wine & dine together every night. basically a huge party for rich people, including lots of driving every day in ridiculously nice cars. and john mayer is going to be a part of it. the most exciting part of this blog for me is “Going to blog from the road from here [the honeyee blog site]…” this year the gumball 3000 is going to san diego, LA, las vegas, shanghai, beijing, just to name a few. how nuts is that? i guess i’m mainly excited about this because seeing the world is such a good experience for anyone. i know traveling will affect that guy somehow, which just means more good influences. and for real, look at that car. so awesome.

5. Feb. 22nd, 08 – Frank. (read it here.)
nothing makes me more excited about john’s new music than this blog. it’s good to know that he is keeping up with pop culture, keeping in touch with what’s popular and what’s current, but i feel so reassured after reading this that whatever new music he comes up with next, it won’t suck. he’s listening to frank. “… all i want is harmony.” nothing pleases me more than reading this. his new album is going to be off the wall.

6. Feb. 23rd, 08 – John Cage’s 4’33” (read it here.)
while not as pleasing as the frank sinatra blog, this is still a really important one. my immediate thought was, “who cares about a ‘piece’ of music where nobody plays anything? how did this become famous?” but if you think about it in terms of each listener’s experience, it’s actually pretty cool. no two listeners will hear the exact thing from this piece. every single time you listen to it, it will be different. it’s all about your environment, what you hear, what you experience as you listen to it. and that’s a pretty cool thought. so while still not as cool as the frank blog, this one still gets me amped how this is all gonna add up in john’s music.

7. Feb. 29th, 08 – Buddy Miles (read it here.)
just a quick one. it’s significant because buddy miles never made it big in terms of america’s pop culture. everyone knows jimi hendrix, maybe a quarter of everyone know buddy miles. the fact that john not only knows who he was, but also that he was funky? very good news. i knew buddy miles was the drummer for the band hendrix was in after the jimi hendrix experience, but i didn’t know a single thing about him. i’m glad to know john knows he was funky. more musical influence.

8. Feb. 29th, 08 (read it here.)
this one i’m torn on. mainly because i don’t like fall out boy, but i love michael jackson. and hearing that fall out boy covered michael jackson sucks, but hearing that john mayer covered the guitar solo in “beat it” is incred. it’s also cool that at least john mayer has a varied music taste. he knows fall out boy well enough to give thumbs up to playing on their cover of a classic mj tune. overall i’d say the cover is dece. not anything crazy good, but alright. and john obviously kills it with the solo. i would love it if john blogged about mj, that would blow my freakin’ mind.

9. Mar. 14th, 08 – A Pure Moment (read it here.)
i like this one because this is life. obviously i might not be able to go to japan, but i can have that same soul-cleansing moment, just wherever i’m at. i understand that moment. it’s something i’m always looking for, trying to find. sometimes i don’t even think about it, but whether or not i realize i’m in it, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. the awareness of the moment itself doesn’t even matter, which is one thing i love about it. but this idea, the idea of this moment of pure happiness, is such a beautiful thought to me, it’s such a romantic ideal in our heart-breaking world that to see a writer/musician that i admire and respect so much aspire to grasp that moment and own it in his life and in his music and in his work, it’s so refreshing and exciting to me. a few years ago he wrote a song about this moment; it is my absolute favorite he’s ever written. to know that this concept is still important in his head and his heart is encouraging to me; i’m not worried about what he’s gonna come up with next in terms of music. it’s gonna be great.

10. Mar. 19th, 09 – Report (read it here.)
this is a funny little blog with something good inside. he mentions the newest radiohead album in passing, but says he listened to it straight for two weeks and then hasn’t listened to it since. interesting. in the last year or so i feel like john’s mentions of radiohead have really increased. during concerts, he added radiohead/thom yorke lyrics to his own songs, he posted a thom yorke music video along with the lyrics, and has mentioned them on other occasions. radiohead is such a weird group. to say the very least, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of affect their music has had on john’s music.

11. Mar. 22nd, 08 – Giant Steps (read it here.)
i’m glad i waited to post this blog until tonight because john just posted something else super great up. two videos of the song “giant steps” by john coltrane. the first video is SUPER cool. again, just another facet of music that john is absorbing. so great.

12. Mar. 19th, 08 – Billy Preston, Ray Charles: “Agent Double O Soul” (read it here.)
this is out of chronological order, but i’m saving this one for last because it’s a such good finale. possibly my favorite post of this whole bunch. SUCH an incredible video. first of all, the title of the song is “agent double O soul”. seriously? how could a song with a title like that even be remotely bad? ray just kills it on the piano, and billy preston… wow. his vocals are off the wall, that suit! unbelievably cool. and his moves! oh my goodness the way billy moves is just so fluid. like a freakin’ blob of energy and soul on the stage. absolutely phenom. if i could dance like that… my goodness. none of these posts makes me happier about john mayer’s upcoming music than this one. if this is the kind of music that is influencing him, i know he’s got something good coming soon. this video is so freakin’ awesome, go watch it again for your own good.

no other entertainer that i know of in show business lets their fans into their lives as much as john mayer. and not in a weird stalker “i wish i was famous so i’ll follow famous people” kind of way but a really cool, fascinating, “this is what i’m into, what do you think?” kind of way. he’s a guy that knows music so well, and his outlook on life is really unique, and seeing what he’s into in tv, literature, travel, music, all this stuff is important to understand where he’s been musically and where he’s going. on the surface all this might seem like drivel, but to me it’s so interesting because it’s a glimpse into the way this guy’s mind works. these are all little pieces of who he is, what drives his work, what makes his brain tick. so great. and i can’t wait to see where all this stuff ends up. such an eclectic mix of media will certainly sum up to something great. keep an eye on this guy, he’s going places.

-jon

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