My dad took me to see a documentary called California Typewriter a couple weeks ago. It’s a portrait of a business struggling to remain relevant as the world continues to become digitized, but it’s also a look at well-known creatives who have recently discovered or continue to fight for the importance of analog. It was spectacular, and aside from leaving the theatre feeling fulfilled by the fact that all of these people are fighting so passionately for what they love, even though what they love is really just typewriters, I also left with a newfound respect for John Mayer. I’ll elaborate.
The film sees a number of people talking about their love for typewriters. Tom Hanks shows off his drool-worthy collection and pushes for handwritten thank-you notes over email (so down for this to become a thing again). An artist by the name of Jeremy Mayer shows off his incredible sculptures and explains why taking apart the typewriter is still an appreciation of the beauty. And then John Mayer comes along and talks about why he writes songs on a typewriter instead of a computer, and I agreed with every single thing he said.
Mayer speaks candidly – that’s the first thing that drew me in. But he’s also highly intelligent in a way I didn’t expect. His points are well thought-out and everything makes perfect sense. In his words, computers interrupt the natural creative process. When you’re using some form of software to write, spellcheck comes on and red dots appear under words that are wrong and it interrupts your flow, and that subsequently messes up anything you create after that. Typewriters take away the interruption and the anxiety that comes from knowing you spelled something wrong or used the wrong noun. Being able to block out anything that will distract you from being creative is the ultimate way to go, and analog lets you do that. On a typewriter you can mess up a thousand times, you can cross things out, and you can see your ideas form organically. There’s no erasing or backspacing – you see the entirety of your work right in front of you. John Mayer is apparently a big fan of this, and I have to agree.
The movie made my want to listen to Mayer’s music over and over again, and, coincidentally, he released a new EP called The Search for Everything – Wave One soon after my addiction began. I love it. It feels like the stuff I used to hear on the radio when the radio was actually half-decent, and it’s light and airy and free. It’s road trip music in a way only John Mayer can make road trip music.
The EP starts off with ‘Moving On and Getting Over,’ a groovy break-up track that doesn’t feel like a break-up track. It’s smooth and intricate, and, like always, Mayer’s voice is like velvet. Out of all four songs, this is the one I find myself constantly going back to, and I do feel like it’s nestled itself into my heart a little bit. I love how personal and nostalgic it is, and I can’t wait to listen to it all summer – because it’s definitely a summer track.
I love the second track. ‘Changing’ is about exactly what the title says it’s about. Last year was a lot about change for me, and it’s comforting knowing other people at every stage in their lives are going through the same thing. The song is an ode to evolution and growth, and rather than discussing how hard or uncomfortable it is, it’s really about the beauty that can be found in it. And I like that a lot.
‘Love on the Weekend’ is mellow and comforting. I’m pretty sure I relax into nothingness the instant I hear its opening chords – the thing is like instant happiness. The third track on the EP, it’s an obvious love song, but it plays out like a story. It’s vivid. It’s well-rounded. You can almost feel the sun pouring out of it. And that’s enough to make me adore it.
The Search for Everything finishes off with ‘You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me.’ And it’s tear-jerking, and it sounds like it could be on the soundtrack to a Winnie the Pooh movie. I find it to be the most poetic song on the EP, but it’s cinematic as well. The words he speaks form worlds around you, almost blanketing your being in whimsy. It’s spectacular.
At this point, I’m a little annoyed at myself for ignoring the beauty of John Mayer music for so long. With so many albums under his belt, he’s still captivating audiences and hearts all over the place, and that’s a really special quality that comes across remarkably easily in his music. He’s honest and vulnerable and I think that’s something we could all use a little more of in ourselves. Needless to say, I’m a fan.