John Mayer has played the chart game for most of his career, but now he’s playing music for himself, he tells Rolling Stone in a new interview. “For all the moves I’ve made on the musical chessboard, I am now me. I’m no dummy,” he says.
“For me, the accolades change. They’re not these universally agreed-upon credentials like a Grammy or an American Music Award or a chart position,” he says.
“You have to look for them a little more abstractly.”
Mayer has been touring recently with Dead & Company, featuring Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, members of the Grateful Dead, one of the most famous jam bands in music history.
Nowadays, that’s one of the highest accolades he’s ever achieved, he says.
“You have to be able to roll with it and go, ‘Ok, the new accolade won’t be that old one./ You’re gonna have to let go of most downloaded or streamed.”
Continuum [Mayer’s third studio album 2007], when it came out 10 years ago, was the biggest downloaded record on iTunes ever. Not anymore, and that’s OK,” he says.
“I know my record could use some rock bangers. I went in once a week and would play a Black Keys feel on the drums, and distort the guitar and start making up words. Then I’d listen and go, ‘I don’t buy it.’ The older I get, the more I realize you don’t have to embody everything you love. Does that sound depressing? Or does that sound right?”
Mayer says he also sees the same trends among other artists.
“In a lot of ways, it’s 2003 again, and in a lot of ways it might as well be the year 3000. But what I see right now is that artists care about songs more than they have ever cared about songs,” he says.
“They want them. They want to have written them. You’re seeing this shift back to real fundamentals in songwriting.”
Check out Rolling Stone for more from the interview.