“Who Says” (John Mayer Cover music video)

Originally posted 2009-11-16 22:16:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For John Mayer chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to a very special Monday edition of the Laptop Sessions! What makes tonight so special, you might ask? Well, for the first time in months, I’m bringing you a cover song music video of a song that has yet to be released.  No worries, though — if you like this song, then you’ll be able to buy it in stores tomorrow. 

The song I’m bringing you tonight is “Who Says,” the first single from the forthcoming 2009 John Mayer studio album Battle Studies.  There’s a little bit of a story behind this one, so here goes…

I first learned about this album when I happened upon Mayer’s video blog established to document the recording sessions.  The first video was a tour of his newly designed and built home recording studio.  Do I even need to describe it?  Believe me, it’s drool-inducing.  Although a couple of the entries were only jams or just a bit weird, I ended up searching YouTube for some of the new songs.  As I expected, most were available as live concert performances that someone videotaped and uploaded.  I listened to a couple, including “Who Says,” and I started to get excited about this release. 

I have a general rule against hearing too much of an album before it comes out.  After all, it’s more than half the fun of buying a new album to be able to get in the car, put it on the CD player, and discover the music for the first time.  Sometimes this is an exciting, expectation-defying journey (a la last week’s Echo & the Bunnymen album The Fountain).  Other times, it can be just as disappointing an experience as one can have (i.e. U2’s No Line on the Horizon deluxe edition CD). 

I should also comment on my recent opinion of Mayer. 

As I wrote in my review of Where the Light Is, I am a big fan of Mayer’s first three releases — the independently released EP Inside Wants Out, his debut Room For Squares, and his follow-up Heavier Things.  And yet, just as he gained “credibility,” I lost interest.  Yes, his third album Continuum offers some interesting guitar parts and melodies, but I resented the idea that he needed to become a blues afficionado in order to be accepted by those outside his stereotypical audience of young girls.  In my mind, this was a step backward in his songwriting.  Did no one notice or appreciate the effort he put into the album design for the first two albums, or the backing vocals in “Your Body is a Wonderland” that echo the chorus lyrics of “My Stupid Mouth”?  There was so much care taken with those releases that the minimalism of his last release was disappointing.  From the title of Heavier Things alone, one could imply that Mayer was interested in tackling more “important issues” and being taken more seriously. 

But, even in Heavier Things, he retained his sense of what was important — interpersonal relations, perspective, ambition, etc.  On Continuum, political and social issues apppeared as the subjects for his songs, which always seemed out of place to me. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I have an intense sense of loyalty, sometimes to my own detriment. But I had told myself I wouldn’t buy future Mayer releases to spare myself further disappointment, as I did with Where the Light Is.  That being said, I can’t deny that this single “Who Says” sounds more to me like the John Mayer that I enjoyed listening to on earlier works.  It’s simple, catchy, and tackles the same desires that my favorite John Mayer songs always did — namely, the desire for freedom from personal and social expectations (think: “No Such Thing,” “Not Myself,” “Bigger Than My Body,” and others). I don’t read the reference to marijuana as a literal desire to get high, but rather as a symbol for what society or one’s friends and family members think you shouldn’t do because “it’s not like you.”

So, I’ll give the album a try. 

And you better believe there will be a review forthcoming.

Until then, I hope you enjoy my video tonight.  I’m not sure what came over me, but I made this one a real production.  I tacked on a purposely goofy intro and follow-up documentary that I hope you laugh at — either because it’s funny or because you’re laughing AT me, as long as the result is the same!

And I know that I have other news and ideas on my mind that I wanted to share tonight, but I can’t remember what they are.  So, for now, I hope you enjoy this video and hurry back tomorrow for an all-new Jim Fusco Tuesday, then later this week when I post another music review. 

See you next session!

Music Review: John Mayer’s “Battle Studies” (2009)

Originally posted 2009-11-23 07:00:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

RATING:  3 / 5 stars

By Chris Moore:

As John Mayer explained in a recent interview, his new studio album is an exploration of the more violent side of a romantic relationship – thus the “battle” – but within the parameters of an intelligent, reasonable analysis – thus the “studies.”

If this sounds deep and insightful, well, it is.

Kind of.

One of the key aspects that detracts from Mayer’s music is his intermittently pedestrian lyricism.  I qualify this as “intermittently” because he certainly has moments, here as on his previous albums, of witty, striking, or just simply strong, well-worded lyrics.  And yet, there are also those head-shaking, “isn’t this your fourth album” moments when he sings lines like “I love you more than songs can say,” “then you come crashing in like the realest thing,” and the general “half and half,” mathematical confusion of “Half of My Heart.”

The line between innocent yet intelligent sincerity and downright derivative drivel has always been the debate about John Mayer’s music – recall, for instance, the title of his second album, Heavier Things.  And I would have screamed if I had to hear one more person referencing Continuum by saying, “His blues work is so strong, I can finally take him seriously.”

Regardless of your opinion of Mayer’s intellectual and lyrical prowess, Battle Studies is a well put-together record that consistently demonstrates his awareness of the big picture.  The album opens with a fade in to “Heartbreak Warfare,” which clearly establishes the battle imagery and the war metaphor for a romantic relationship in distress.  The song provides just the right blend of symbolic description and more literal framing for the album to follow.

“All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye” is a perfect representation of that moment before a breakup when the fighting has ceased and the inevitability of it all can be depressing, crushing.  It is, of course, soon followed by a rationalization of the situation – Mayer interestingly brought in country music star Taylor Swift to simplify things and play a catchy, if straightforward tune.

Then comes the breaking point.

“Who Says” set off some controversy when it was first released due to the repeated question, “Who says I can’t get stoned?”  This is yet another example of the general public being incapable of taking a line metaphorically.  This is hardly a “tokin’ song,” as one YouTube viewer suggested in his poor review of the single.  Mayer is clearly – and has said as much himself – using the marijuana reference to represent actions that you wouldn’t normally be able to take due to the expectations of others.  This is quite in line with other queries in the song such as, “Who says I can’t be free from all of the things that I used to be?”

Even the line “I don’t remember you looking any better, but then again, I don’t remember you” is questionable.  Some have written it off as glorifying a reunion after a drugged or drunken one night stand.  I hope that I do not offer too much credit to Mayer when I read this as an extension of the experimentation and freedom of this song – in other words, he doesn’t remember this person because he has never met them before.  Now that he is single again, he is free to “meet all the girls in the county line.”

This declaration of rebellion and/or independence is followed by “Perfectly Lonely,” a catchy ode to bachelorhood that highlights some of Mayer’s best guitar work.  Then comes “Assassin,” an even deeper dive into the territory of the “player/heartbreaker.”

John Mayer's "Battle Studies" (2009)

John Mayer's "Battle Studies" (2009)

The most difficult track for me to process has been his cover of “Crossroads.”  Yes, this is an old Robert Johnson song, but Mayer is really channeling Eric Clapton here.  That being said, Mayer’s “Crossroads” is hardly a faithful cover of the Cream track.  Instead, there are remnants of the guitar riff included in a song just begging to be DJ’ed into a dance mix.

I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Well, I actually am sure how I feel about that.  But what I do like about this track is its thematic relevance to the album.  The idea of being at a crossroads comes at the perfect time, halfway through the album.  The previous three tracks have celebrated “loneliness” of a sort, but this track reminds us that if we are all alone, we may go unrecognized when we try to “flag a ride.”

“War of My Life” is a perfect choice to follow this cover, as Mayer reverts to that classic sound he has come to be known for – and I should emphasize that “Assassin” and “Crossroads” really do have a sound that is all their own on this record.  As per usual, Mayer returns to his standby pensive lyrics and pouty crooning.

The final section of the album is where something is lost, some energy and presence that was stronger in the opening half.  This is precisely where my opinion of the album wavers.

That being said, these final three tracks complete the cycle of this album concept, providing narration from a man on the “Edge of Desire” ready to go back on what he believes in order to restore his relationship.  Then comes the re-assessment, pulling himself out of that moment of weakness with “Do You Know Me.”  Finally, Mayer closes up shop on this album with the anthemic “Friends, Lovers, or Nothing,” putting forth a learned truth of sorts.

All in all, Battle Studies accomplishes what it set out to – namely, to study a relationship at the end of its lifespan from the perspective of an individual maintaining his dignity, going back on what he has said, and ultimately enjoying and – more interestingly – appreciating his individuality and independence.

Mayer has called this album a sidestep, and Battle Studies sounds like it picks up from where Heavier Things left off.

And that is more than all right with me.

“Who Says” by John Mayer – Chords, Tabs, and How to Play

“Who Says”
John Mayer

D                G
Who says I can’t get stoned,
Em                                    A
Turn off the lights and the telephone?
Bm          E
Me in my house alone —
G                A            D
Who says I can’t get stoned?

Who says I can’t be free
From all of the things that I used to be?
Rewrite my history —
Who says I can’t be free?

D               G     D                           A
It’s been a long night in New York City;
A                G     D                     A
It’s been a long night in Baton Rouge.
G            D                 F#m               Bm
I don’t remember you looking any better,
Bm  E                                           A
But then again I don’t remember you…

Who says I can’t get stoned,
Call up a girl that I used to know?
Fake love for an hour or so —
Who says I can’t get stoned?

Who says I can’t take time,
Meet all the girls in the county line?
Wait on fate to send a sign —
Who says I can’t take time?

It’s been a long night in New York City;
It’s been a long night in Austin too.
I don’t remember you looking any better,
But then again I don’t remember you…

INSTRUMENTAL

Who says I can’t get stoned,
Plan a trip to Japan alone?
Doesn’t matter if I even go —
Who says I can’t get stoned?

It’s been a long night in New York City;
It’s been a long time since twenty-two.
I don’t remember you looking any better,
But then again I don’t remember, don’t remember you…

Outro:  D

** These chords and lyrics are interpretations and transcriptions, respectively, and are the sole property of the copyright holder(s). They are posted on this website free of charge for no profit for the purpose of study and commentary, as allowed for under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, and should only be used for such personal and/or academic work. **