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Is It Wrong to Like John Mayer?

Editor's Note: Is It Wrong is a therapeutic column examining feelings we have about music that just aren't quite right. To ease any discomfort, County Grind will explore these emotions and thoughts, breaking down from whence our feelings of guilt, disgust, and shame arise. And, as they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

I started liking John Mayer before I knew I wasn't supposed to. I heard "Why Georgia" off of Room for Squares and thought, well, he's at least a better guitar player than the acoustic folks with the plastic glasses and plaid shirts. Then I heard "Neon" and realized I actually liked him.

I forgot about it again until Continuum came out in 2006. I was a bona fide fan. I knew it wasn't particularly cool to be a fan of the guy who sang "Your Body Is a Wonderland," but it's taken a while for me to realize just how much people dislike him.

I didn't buy the outrage when he said, of his relationship with Jessica Simpson, that "sexually it was crazy. That's all I'll say. It was like napalm, sexual napalm." Yeah, it wasn't a particularly gentlemanly thing to say, but that's no reason to toss out an entire discography.

The uproar over Mayer's telling Playboy that he wasn't into sexing black women was equally stupid. OH GOD, a musician gave an honest answer to a question instead of just doling out the standard PR bullshittery. Forget about all those artists who sell records by reducing women to hypersexualized piles of humpmeat; John Mayer is a racist.

I didn't get the outrage over that. Sorry. But he's still the guy who sings "No Such Thing" and that abhorrent cover of "Crossroads," so I can see the argument for not liking him, an argument that gets even stronger when you factor in that time he charged a fan $10 to get a photo with him. And I don't know what happened between him and Taylor Swift, but I don't like it.

Still, it's dishonest to say he's all bad. Bits of his L.A. concert DVD are brilliant -- though it's almost eight minutes long, his live version of "Gravity" is great:

Actually, I just listened to it again. Do... do I not like John Mayer? Oh man...

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Rich Abdill

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