John Mayer: "I'm now at the point where I'm asking, why do I even have to like what I'm writing?"

John Mayer's thought process is often a fascinating thing to see unfold in interviews. And it took the musician on an interesting tangent recently when friend Andy Cohen was interviewing him about his favourite songs, including Mayer's own highlight from recent solo album Sob Rock.

"It's Wild Blue for me, baby," answers Mayer, who is currently on a world tour in support of the 2021 album. "I just put it on and I can't believe it's mine. Artists aren't really allowed to say that but it is true. There are some songs you do with your left hand and you look back and it and you go, 'That's wild.'"

There's no doubt the track is one of the guitar highlights from the album too, with the longest lead breaks we hear from Mayer on it. Some listeners may liken the guitar approach and tone to Mark Knopfler, but the feel of the song brings to mind a different influence for Mayer. 

"It's reminds me of [Your] Wildest Dreams by [The] Moody Blues," he adds, singing the song to Cohen. Mayer also likens the vibe Sob Rock in general to a 'twirling' Stevie Nicks with added 'dramatic' flourishes, noting that it isn't something he would normally do. And that's when things get interesting…

If you don't like it, it's just that it exists a little bit beyond your own tastes for that moment

"Why would you do what you normally want to do anymore?" Mayer muses. "What's normal anymore? I'm now at the point where I'm [asking], why do I even have to like what I'm writing? What if I can write things that I don't even like at the moment?"

Cohen understandably responds by asking Mayer what the point would be of him writing music that even he doesn't like. 

"If you don't like it, it's just that it exists a little bit beyond your own tastes for that moment," Mayer counters, warming to his theme. "That's what happens as a writer; you write something and you go, I bet this isn't any good, but your tastes catch up to it. It's a very complex, kind of twisted thought but why does liking my idea stop me from writing the idea? What you like and don't like right now is not essential…"

It's an interesting thought for all musicians. Are some of us shelving good ideas too soon?

On the subject on songwriting, Mayer also revealed in another clip from the interview with Cohen that a song he's writing about his late friend, comedian Bob Saget, is helping him through his grief following Saget's death in January 2022. 

"I have a song… sometimes songwriters have a song they go real slow on when they write it and it's their pet project," Mayer explains. "And they go through their day and it's like a little empty apple basket and they pick different things; maybe I'll put that in this song. So I have this song that's my friend, it's sort of my little collection plate for ideas and thought I have about Bob and I put it on the plate and I keep working on the song. I work on it in the car if I'm driving, I just know how the song goes.

"The song that I have is very much like this connective tissue to him and I just keep working on it. And I'll sit down and play it on the piano. Just sing it. That's sort of like my security blanket. This song that someday will be finished on its own just through my thinking about it."

6 songs guitarists need to hear by… John Mayer

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.