Here’s the story: Handsome fellow with plenty going for him has cute girl with plenty going for her, and there’s no reason in the world they shouldn’t be happy together, but there’s another fellow involved. A little (or a lot) more famous, a little (or a lot) more adored by the public. There’s some “creative work” involved. Does it go farther than that? We can only guess. But we can guess.
That’s how I got my ticket for John Mayer’s remarkable performance at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville this past Tuesday: a friend of mine has a girlfriend with whom he is squabbling. She’s an artist and she is popular with various D-list celebrities. My friend would be almost any woman’s dream date: tall enough, fit, handsome, articulate, conventionally masculine, thoughtful, and working a high-paid job that actually means something and almost never involves an office. Truth be told, I’m a little attracted to him myself, mostly in an envious way.
Ah, but he’s not famous. Let’s insert the usual The-Current-Year disclaimers about how there is no difference between AMAB (assigned male at birth) citizens and AFAB (absolutely fabulous) citizens, and formally assert their validity in all circumstances… and then click the jump.
Women dig fame and power. They dig fame and power the same way men dig beauty. You don’t have to be Leonardo DiCaprio. You can be a D-list rapper, or a saxophone player for a ska band, or the manager at a restaurant. (The latter is a depressingly common occurrence; I’ve heard more stories about that than I have about hookups with musicians.) You just need to be somebody in some kind of social situation. There are sound biological reasons for this, but I have sound biological reasons for wanting to be able to feed my son so that’s as far as I’m going to go in this line of discussion. If you want more, read Vox Day, or Heartiste, or any one of a thousand scientific studies published before the turn of the 21st Century.
Anyway, to make a long story short, my friend and his girl had a fight so I was able to buy her ticket. I think it’s a temporary situation, this disagreement. She really likes him and he really likes her. But it was very lucky for me. While I have often been the beneficiary of fights between men and the women they love, this is the first time it’s been concert-related. Which is how I came to be standing among twenty thousand maskless, social-distance-less actual human beings when the opening chords of “Last Train Home” came blaring out of the stadium’s not-that-great sound system.
I make no apologies for being a John Mayer fan of 15 years’ standing. I felt authentically giddy when the song started. Didn’t think it could get any better… but then Maren Morris came out to sing!
Maren, for those of you over the age of thirty, is the indifferently-talented country-pop singer/songwriter who has penned quite a few hits for country’s biggest names but who also has a few hit records in her own right. She provides vocals for the studio version of “Last Train Home”, but since she is a Nashville resident Mayer thought it would be fun to have her come out and sing on it live. She then returned for “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room”:
Listen, I’m about as autistic as you can get without being nonverbal and I have all sorts of difficulty interpreting human behavior but after seeing it in person even my dumb ass can tell you that Maren really, really, digs John Mayer. After the fact, she posted about it on Instagram, talked to People magazine, and basically did everything she could to make sure the whole world knew that her “high school dream had come true”.
This phrase, “my high school dream came true”, can in every single instance it appears be interpreted as
high school dream came true
and that is doubly so when the object of one’s high school affection is in the kind of fine form enjoyed by 44-year-old John Mayer. He looks like he is thirty. There isn’t any fat on him. Is it HGH? T supplements? Adrenochrome? Who knows. But he doesn’t look forty-four. (Side note: he is exactly six days older than Brother Bark.) Plus he is, ya know, John Mayer. He is six foot four, with a size 14 shoe and personal equipment that reportedly delighted Jennifer Aniston enough for her to discuss it with anyone who would listen. If you think he only appeals to menopausal moms, you’d be wrong; the Nashville concert was about one-third twentysomething beauty pageant.
(Another third of the crowd, to everyone’s chagrin: men of a certain age who “dig the blues” and own a PRS Silver Sky, such as your humble author’s “Lunar Ice” example.)
Of course, Maren is married, to a Nashville nonentity named Ryan Hurd. You can throw a lawn dart in Nashville and hit three Ryan Hurds. They all look and dress and act exactly the same. He is generically handsome — but Mayer is uniquely handsome, even to your non-flexible author. Hurd is tall, as Maren notes here in an explanation for her song “Tall Guys”:
but he is only six foot three and gawky with it, while Mayer is simply a five-eleven man at 110% scale. Oh, and there’s the fame thing, as mentioned above. John Mayer can entice fifteen thousand women to attend a no-mask, no-protocol concert in the middle of yet another COVID
hysterical propaganda wave; I don’t think Ryan Hurd can fill a Potbelly sandwich shop. At the end of the show, Mayer said that Maren’s music is “what it sounds like to be alive right now”. Her music is Auto-Tuned junk, so I assume that’s code for “Maren is 32, and I’m 44, which is great.”
So yeah, I can only guess, but I can guess.
As for the show itself: looking like a 30-year-old at 44 isn’t the only way John Mayer is on top of his game. He has been making hit records for twenty-six years. To put it in perspective, he’s older than Paul McCartney was when he released Pipes Of Peace, and about the same age Bob Dylan was when he and George Harrison effectively vanished into the Traveling Wilburys. As noted above, a significant percentage of the Nashville concert attendees were no older than the first pressing of his major label debut, Room For Squares. The row of girls in front of me couldn’t have been that old. They were so fresh and naive that they actually got up and left at the “end” of the concert, only to come screaming and running back to their seats when the encore started. I had to wonder if this was not, in fact, their first-ever concert. That never happened for the Traveling Wilburys.
Mayer is, of course, painfully self-aware of this and many other things. “I never set out to write a bullshit song… I must have written this with sincerity, so tonight I’m going to play it with sincerity,” he assured the audience, right before launching into “Your Body Is A Wonderland” and causing the air to flood with raw estrogen. I am reasonably certain that he could have stopped halfway thorough the song, put his guitar down, and asked the women in the audience to kill every man present… and it would have happened immediately. You can’t fight fame. Fame reinforced by the screams of countless other girls around, doubly so.
Well, this is the effect the concert had on me: I’m going to practice my guitar a little more often. Just in case those sandwich-shop gigs ever make a post-COVID return. Not that I think it will help me with the ladies, but I dimly recall there was a free lunch and a soupçon of tip money involved with each one. I’d like to get some more of that. As the man himself said: If you give me just one night (or day!), you’re gonna see me in a new light.