Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | MARCH 25, 2010 7:30 AM

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Mayer is overrated

In response to Rachael Lander’s Feb. 26 column “Commentary: John Mayer’s talent trumps recent controversy”: What I find offensive, as a musician, is a sentence such as this: “Mayer is a remarkable guitarist, fantastic lyricist, and soothing singer.” Let’s consider each of these dubious claims.

I won’t doubt whether he’s a decent singer: Soothing is indeed the correct adjective for someone whose Wonder Bread vocals makes Barry Manilow’s seem as soulful as Barry White’s. His breathy, I’m-not-really-trying style is indeed less irritating than other male songwriters on the scene (Bright Eyes comes to mind — at least Mayer isn’t perpetually on the verge of tears).

But a fantastic lyricist? Wow. In “Your Body is a Wonderland,” he gives us: “And if you want love, we’ll make it / … / Your body is a wonderland / Use my hand.” Now, I can’t pretend to think like a genius such as Mayer, but this seems to express the equally complex feeling of: “Hey, screwing is really fun, and yes, faceless groupies, I’m good at it.”

And a “remarkable” guitarist? No, no, no. How about Stevie Ray Vaughan, or Jeff Beck, or Buddy Guy? Mayer is a competent guitarist, and sometimes he makes tasteful choices, like to refrain from singing at Michael Jackson’s funeral. But any one of 10,000 electric guitarists is more remarkable; they just haven’t benefited from the marketing Mayer has received.

A good comparison with Mayer is Kenny G. Both are passable instrumentalists who maneuver that one skill with the powerful marketing of an image to sell millions of records. But at best he is a less rotten turd in the mainstream sewer of mediocrity. And to write columns defending him when his stench becomes particularly pungent is insulting: He’s clearly satisfied with his millions of dollars, awards, and devoted fans who will defend him no matter what vile, self-indulgent crap flies out of his mouth.

Eben Seaman
UI employee

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