John Mayer, singer and songwriter of “Daughters” and “Gravity,” has a tendency to remain largely out of the spotlight when he is working on new music. Over the years, he’s developed a pattern of finishing up a tour for an album, and then taking a big step back and doing his own thing, in private, for about two to three years before dropping the work he’s been creating. You can always tell when the time for a new release is drawing near by staying updated on Mayer’s Instagram teases. The receipts say it all.
In September 2016, almost four years after his “Born and Raised” album release and world tour, Mayer resurfaced to let his fans know that new music was on its way. He posted, side by side, a picture of himself from 10 years ago when his most famous album, “Continuum,” was released, with a current picture of himself, wearing the same jacket, and posing the same way.
In the post, he writes, “Continuum turns 10 today…” and begins to reminisce about the process of creating and performing some of his most popular songs from the album, “Gravity” and “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.” Mayer saw this album as pivotal for his music career, as it was the beginning of his process toward experimenting with new genres of music for his future albums.
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Continuum turns 10 today… here I am a decade later in the same jacket I wore in the cover shot. I remember so much about this record. I remember cutting "I Don't Trust Myself" and "Bold As Love" in NYC. I remember the Trio tour that divided the NY and LA portions of recording. I remember coming up with "Gravity" in the shower at the Four Seasons in LA and not looking up for a day while I wrote it. It was finished the next night. I remember telling Chad as I was writing a song that it sounded like two people "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room." I remember the innocence, the discovery, and I remember the feeling of playing these songs night after night on tour and realizing they could hold up as both pop songs and guitar explorations. Lucky to have it and lucky to have you all as fans. More to come very soon. X JM
While this seemed random at the time, it would come full-circle two months later, in November 2016, when he shared with his followers the release date of his new album’s debut single, “Love on the Weekend.” This was a pivotal moment in Mayer’s career, as his music’s genre would shift from an acoustic, jazz-folk mix, to experimenting with a blend of pop. While Mayer is notorious for creating music within a melting-pot of genres, and is often difficult to label, the sound of “Love on the Weekend” was incredibly different from his earlier music, and left fans excited for and curious about what his new album was going to sound like.
In January 2017, he decided to release his new album, “The Search for Everything,” in waves, giving his fans chapters at a time. Mayer likely figured the new shift in style and genre would be overwhelming in contrast to his prior works, and didn’t want to just drop a bomb on his fans. By releasing it in waves, he was giving them small tastes at a time, to really think about what he was trying to do by experimenting with genres. He waited three months more, until mid-April, to release “The Search for Everything” in its entirety.
But John Mayer knew we would want more soon, especially after switching styles up on us, so about a year later, he hinted at the release of yet another single: in May, Mayer posted a picture of himself captioned “Summer bop drop imminent,” alluding once again to an upcoming song release.
A fan commented on his post, “Holy shit you’re about to do it to em, aren’t you?” to which he replied: “SSSSHHHH. Not so loud. Yes.” That same day, he announced that a fresh single, “New Light,” would be released the very next day.
This is where Mayer’s playful personality and genuine love for his music come into being in the most creative way. Soon after, Mayer notified his Instagram followers and fans that a music video for “A New Light” had dropped; he posted a clip from the video, and captioned his post: “I needed to make a video for New Light, but nobody could agree on a budget, so I went to a place downtown and made this with a company that usually does birthday and Bar Mitzvah videos. Link. In. Bio.”
And boy, was it a masterpiece. What appeared to be a product of bizarre and hilarious circumstances ended up perfection none the less.
For the next few months, Mayer would remain relatively quiet about additional songs (even after I commented excessively on his posts, begging for more) until finally, on Oct. 16, he posted his infamous selfie, thanking his fans for the birthday wishes and giving us a treat in return: “Oh, and I have a new song for you coming soon.”
While his Instagram is usually dedicated to him playing his guitar and performing songs with other artists, two days after his birthday post, Mayer posted a clip of him playing a never-before-heard guitar solo, captioned: “Taking a stab at a solo section you’ll be hearing sooner than later…”
On Oct. 25 (impatience and anticipation skyrocketing at this point), he posted another sentimental picture, mirroring that of his 2016 post preceding the release of “The Search for Everything.” He wrote that the release of his newest song, “I Guess I Just Feel Like,” is a “get small and tell the truth” piece, and confesses what it meant for him to receive such positivity at the release of new music while again, experimenting with a new kind of genre.
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#tbt “I Guess I Just Feel Like” is the “get small and tell the truth” I mentioned a few weeks ago. Playing this song last night was one of the best calls I’ve made in a while. Your reactions have made the weeks of working these feelings out well worth it. Conversations have begun on how and when to get an “official” version out (it’s almost done) but I kind of love pointing you to new music that’s raw and not tuned and doesn’t make anybody any money. I dunno. Thank you.
There are many features about Mayer that distinguish him from other artists: genre choices, sense of humor, lack of popularity with the paparazzi and disinterest in money and fame. But the attribute that is most admirable is how humble he is. Though it may seem like a simple Instagram post, Mayer is turning to his fans in moments of extreme vulnerability, when he is about to release new music he has spent months shaping and perfecting, without knowing what his fans will think about it.
In this latest post, he is stripping music of its association with fame, glamor and money, and sharing it intimately, in its most raw and true form. Mayer does not care about a dramatic single release; he creates and performs music because it is his passion, and he shares it with the world because it forms a bridge between him and the people who come in contact with it.
If history is to repeat itself, fans are very close to the release of a new album that will once again experiment with Mayer’s unique sound and integrate the twist of a new genre. However, we won’t know for sure until he hits the fanbase once more with a brand new wave of music.
John, I’ll be waiting. I love you.