That was the first time I heard John Mayer.
Hellbent on spreading his gospel, I joined an online message board, bought albums, burned copies for friends, and traded live shows with other fans who could not get enough of this young, phenomenal guitar player from Atlanta with the voice of melted chocolate.
I was fifteen the first time I met him. Bright eyed and beaming, Katy and I approached him after his acoustic in-store performance at the now defunct Music Millenium store. I was wearing a light pink shirt I’d made in allusion to one of his songs that read, “I’m a sucker for you” with a little lollipop on it. He was about to be wearing a t-shirt I’d made for him that said, “Two hot teenage girls in Portland love me.” We took a picture with him in it, and he signed my shirt: “John Mayer- thinks ya clever and cool (and hot!)” while his bassist, David Labruyere, signed it, “I’m a sucker for you, too!” We were two of about forty people there. I also handed them a ribboned bag with gifts for the rest of the band: duct tape wallets I’d made myself.
Katy and I went anyway, peering into the bar and grill from tiptoe in the venue lobby, standing on chairs and stairs to get glimpses of this musician we knew would be Eric Clapton famous in only a matter of years. That was the thing about being a John Mayer fan so early on: we were all just sure it was simply a matter of time before he blew up. We were just trying to soak up as much of him as possible until then.
“Hey, there they are!” he said, greeting the group with arms wide, his head a-tilt. "How cool of you guys to wait for us!"
Katy and I had learned earlier, from a man at the in-store performance, that Tim Reynolds was playing a sold-out midnight solo show. He bragged that he was a photographer, and alluded to the fact that he could easily get us in. Unfortunately, he totally gave us the creeps, so we smiled politely and eluded him for the rest of the afternoon.
“Oh, are you guys going to that Tim Reynolds show?” we asked nonchalantly.
“Yeah, we are. Do you want to come with us? I think it’s sold out, but we’re on the list so don’t worry about that. ”
Katy and I sucked in our breath.
“Ooh… “ I said, pulling a face. “Yeah, we were invited to that earlier by some guy, but, we aren’t 18 and he said he could ‘get us in’ but… we weren’t really comfortable with that,” I admitted. Katy gave a nod of agreement. "Plus, we should probably be getting home..."
(How do I remember that, nine years later? Uh, how would I NOT remember that, is the real question).
Tour manger Scotty came out to round up his troops and distribute some of the night’s earnings to the guys. Our eyes got wide when we saw that he was pulling a stack of cash OUT OF HIS DUCT-TAPE WALLET.
“Don’t you go breaking my heart!” John turned around and hollered, pointing, as we waved goodbye and wished them a fun evening.
I didn’t stop smiling for ten days.
Since 2001, John Mayer has released 3 more albums, along with multiple side projects with the John Mayer trio and other artists. He has won a shelf full of Grammy Awards. He bought a place in New York. We’ve both dated other people (you know how it goes- long distance relationships are hard) and through the tours and tabloids and time, I lost interest in this artist to whom I’d formerly felt so close – I was now a nameless face in a crowd of thousands at amphitheater concerts, and part of what had interested me so much had dissipated. And you know what? He's changed. His very public descent into douchedom was enough to turn anyone deaf to his talent.
The spell was broken, and I'd moved on.That is, until last Tuesday, anyway.
Part II coming soon.