Throughout my 20′s I dated 3 incredible men, 2 hot guitar players, 2 rich guys, 1 Latin loverboy, and 1 soon-to-be Catholic priest. I ended up marrying the best of the 3 incredible guys.
But the one man who has been a consistent presence throughout my entire adulthood is John Mayer.
At the risk of sounding incredibly corny, the guy’s music changed me. Now before you puke all over your computer keyboard, allow me to present the evidence:
- After listening to his album for the first time, I went out and charged a $400 acoustic guitar to my credit card and started songwriting before I even knew what the hell chords I was playing.
- Those lyrics. Oh my heavens, those lyrics. It sounds melodramatic but they help me make sense of my own feelings. In a single lyric he can pinpoint a thought or a feeling that I’d spent 7 clumsy pages trying to describe in my diary.
- His guitar solos make me cry. Not in a Beatles, Elvis, or Bieber kind of way, but in an Oh-sh*t-I-know-exactly-how-depressed-you-were-when-you-wrote-that-guitar-solo-without-you-even-having-to-utter-a-single-word kind of way.
…And that’s what good music can do to you – it makes you feel invincible, broken, and completely understood all at once.
So you can imagine how much it breaks my heart to know that when John Mayer isn’t playing heavenly hymns for humankind, he’s kind of an ass.
But his saving grace is the fact that he knows he’s an ass, he hates it, and he’s trying to change. We see this all over his songs (except maybe in “Your Body Is A Wonderland,” of course). John Mayer’s balls are in his music. That’s where most good songwriters keep ‘em.
But the best and ballsiest I’ve ever seen John was when he practically broke down in tears during the middle of a concert. After this CRAZY Playboy interview (you know — the one where he shared intimate details about his high profile celebrity girlfriends, then went on to say that he doesn’t date Black women because his d*ck is a White supremacist, among other insanely offensive things), Mayer emotionally confessed his crime in front of an audience of thousands.
He could barely get the words out because he had that pre-cry lump in his throat that makes people sound froggy. He said:
“In my quest to be clever I completely forgot about the people I love and the people who love me.
…I went into a wormhole of selfishness, and greediness, and arrogance in thinking that if I would just continue to be speedy, and witty, and pull together as many fast words and phrases as I could, that I could be clever enough to buy myself another day without thinking that anyone would finally pin me down and say “You’re a creep”. When I should’ve just given that up and played the guitar a little bit more, I didn’t. So I decided I’d try to be as clever as possible at the time, and I did that at the expense of people that I love. That feels absolutely terrible.
…I think it’s important that you know that everybody on this stage is here playing with me not because they condone what I say in any given interview…They’re on this stage because they support myself as a possible future grown-up. And maybe they see something that I haven’t seen.”
What John said that evening does not give him a free pass after what he did. But I like what was happening to him on the inside.
I don’t think it’s possible to live your life without ever hurting someone with a verbal bomb that you wish could be taken back. We’re human. We’re imperfect. We say really stupid crap. But it’s what we do about that imperfection that defines us.
Accountability, transparency, humility, self-awareness, love, and the sincere desire to change — these are the keys to turning our worst mistakes into the most triumphant displays of humanity.
The question is: Am I brave enough to transform my wrongs into rights? Am I courageous enough to make my crooked path straight? Are you? When I think of John Mayer I’m reminded that it’s never too late to try.