by Dave Carew
As I write this, John Mayer’s new album Born and Raised is sitting at a nifty #1 in the national charts. This surprises me somewhat—not because the album isn’t good (it’s way better than good), but because the album is such a stark departure for Mayer. From a guy from the Northeast who has built his reputation as, arguably, the finest pop/rock artist of his generation, we get an album that owes way more to Nashville and the thread of what Gram Parsons called “cosmic American music” than to the elite Manhattan/L.A. ethos with which Mayer has been associated. This is John Mayer’s Harvest; John Mayer’s visionary trip into the heart of the American heartland.
The other day at lunch a gifted young Americana artist told me, “I think Born and Raised is really, really interesting. It’s the first time I can remember when a rock guy of my generation has put out an Americana album like this. He’s going to really legitimize what many of us are doing here in Nashville and elsewhere; really open a lot more eyes and ears to it.” The fascinating thing—to me—is that John Mayer has done that—reached into a musical realm not at all associated with him previously—to create what is, beyond a doubt, his most personal and revealing testament.
To hear key tracks from Born and Raised, go to YouTube and search for John Mayer and Shadow Days / John Mayer and Born and Raised / John Mayer and Queen of California / John Mayer and Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967.
David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.
Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org. Please also consider coming to ParkLife, the benefit concert for Lambscroft, to be held in Sevier Park in 12South on a Saturday in August or September (date TBA soon). Thank you.
Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”