With John Mayer’s sixth studio album Paradise Valley coming out on August 20, it’s time to spotlight some of his best unknown songs. Contrary to the media’s portrayal of the singer-songwriter, Mayer’s best songs are generally not the ones getting constant radio play. Instead most Mayer fans, guitar aficionados, and concert-goers know that the musician’s gems are from his live performances and rarely played tracks. The following lists seven of Mayer’s best overlooked work.
During the 2009 memorial honoring Michael Jackson’s passing, John Mayer’s cover of Jackson’s “Human Nature” was arguably one of the best moments of the special event. With his performance, Mayer was able to do two things simultaneously: continuously acknowledge the loss of Jackson while showcasing his own guitar playing prowess. Mayer subtly honored the singer’s memory and absence by not singing the song’s lyrics–letting the listener hear the classic track without Jackson’s signature vocals–and played to his greatest (and often overlooked) strength of being an expert guitarist. The way Mayer is able to make his electric guitar sing so smoothly, all on its own in place of Jackson’s voice is unbelievable, and is only topped off by his own unmatchable, climaxing guitar solo. The only downsides are the audience’s out-of-beat clapping that occurs at the beginning of the clip and the background singers that try to replace Jackson’s vocals mid-way through.
An extra song meant to be released on Mayer’s Continuum album (and was available with its pre-order on iTunes) but was ultimately left out, “Can’t Take that Plane” is a rollicking, upbeat blues track. Although the song is in keeping with Mayer’s blues phase that would culminate in Continuum, it’s not surprising that it was withheld from the full release, since its overly upbeat and strong rhythm clashes against the more pensive tones contained in the album’s other songs.