“I Guess I just Feel Like” is John Mayer’s latest release and I have been hesitant to write about this one, mostly because it took me a while to be able to get my head around the emotions that it brought forth. I am not sure I am there yet but in the soul of this song is tremendous power and I wanted to try and put that into words.
First a few things about John Mayer, yes I know he is a pop star, I don’t care about that. In my introduction I mentioned that I wanted to discuss more than just genre, feel or origin. When I listen to music, I am not thinking about how popular they are or what label they are signed to and certainly not what genre they belong to. I am just listening for good music. I remember when I saw John play “Gravity” on the Grammy’s in 2006, it evoked such an emotional response in me, I still get that same response today. That is music with a soul. I also realized just how good of a guitar player he was, he is a once in a generation player. I am not just talking about chops either, I am talking about the emotion and how much of his own spirit he pours into playing. He is truly one the best alive right now and it shines brightly in “I Guess I Just Feel Like”.
I had the great fortune to be a chaperone for a high school jazz band when they participated in the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho in the late 90’s. I was lucky enough to get a seat in a workshop there with Ray Brown, the father of Jazz Bass. I will never ever forget what he taught that group of twenty or so lucky people. This was the first time in my life I ever saw and heard anyone put into words what it meant to pour your soul into music. That festival had players from all over the world who were masters of their craft, even Lionel celebrated his 90th birthday there. We had all seen “chops” over and over and over that week. But Mr. Brown showed us how to play with soul. I will never forget how he came in pulling that big old double bass and getting set up, all by himself. Then he smiled at us and talked about all the amazing talent we were seeing this week and how much we could learn from this and then he said he wanted us to just sit and take a few things in. He played a slow deep melody on that beautiful bass; it rumbled and sang with a voice I have never heard a bass player produce before or since. Then he told us about opening your soul and letting it flow through your hands, he said not worry about how many notes you can fit in, just let it sing for you. Then he played some more… I am not a religious man, but I am spiritual and that was one the most spiritual experiences of my life. When I find music that someone has poured their soul into as Mr. Brown described, I can be right back in that room in Moscow Idaho, sitting one the floor listening to a master teach. I think John Mayer could someday, be one those masters and “I Guess I Just Feel Like” is a step in that direction.
When this song was released a short time ago, I was undone. Music can play off the state of your mind and where you are at in your life. This one found me in a place of questioning who I am and what I am doing with my life. I am finding out that no matter how old you are or how accomplished, you can feel like giving up. I have had more than my share of privilege and great opportunities. But the circumstances of the world or your own personal surroundings can cause you to question your purpose and how you should push forward. This song embodied that for me in such a personal way, and that is truly the magic of music. I haven’t solved any of the world problems and almost none of my own, but I did receive a balm in the guise of a masterful outro, ala John on the guitar….
Listening, learning and growing…