John Mayer, Cowboy?: 6 WTF Moments Of Musical Reinvention
Oh, you hadn't heard?
At some point between his extended hiatus from singing and the recording of his newly announced album, Born and Raised, ol' big-mouth Mayer seems to have stumbled on some old Willie Nelson CDs and raided the nearest Cavender's in a transformation Rocks Off can only assume as being "cowboy chic."
A self-professed Stevie Ray Vaughan fanatic, Mayer has long spoken of the influence the late Dallas guitar hero has had on his playing. But when the singer arrived at the NAMM 2012 convention to unveil his signature acoustic Martin guitar, it was clear something else was up.
Listen, as fans of the guy, we don't have a problem with the idea of shedding some unnecessary skin, especially if that skin has caused as much public backlash as his has over the past few years. But on the other hand, as native Texans, we're steamed. When a Bridgeport, Conn., boy thinks he can waltz around town wearing a big hat and denim jacket, singing of Hill Country delusions, well, that's just crossing the line.
We'd like to hope that Mayer's jig will meet a timely end when the singer plays at Stubb's for SXSW next month -- we're turning to you, Austin -- where plenty of proud Texans will have the opportunity to remind him he belongs in khakis and boat shoes. Until then, here are five other travesties of reinvention that rival Mayer's carpetbagging.
5. Jewel Channels Xtina: When Jewel hit the scene with 1996's Pieces of You, she was a shy, soft-spoken teen from Alaska, wielding an acoustic guitar and little else. Folky ballads like "Who Will Save Your Soul," gained her notoriety, but after two albums of the same-old, same-old, the Lilith Fair alum traded in her turtlenecks for booty shorts for 0304. The dance-themed album was a clear misfire, but on a brighter note, it landed her loads of new fans -- young, drooling, teenage boys.
4. Pat Green Ditches Texas for Nashville: Fans of Texas Country still have it out for Green. It's an oft-repeated story: Local country singer sells out and signs with a Nashville label, leaving behind hometown fans and hometown sounds. But Green's betrayal was different -- in his early days, the singer prided himself on revitalizing the Texas music scene, and following in the footsteps of legends Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. More importantly, though, he assured fans he'd always do his singing in Texas until Nashville came knocking in the form of a deal with Universal/Republic.
In August 2011, Green told the TV show Texas Music Scene that he was tired of making music for "the man." His latest album and second covers project with old friend Cory Morrow, Songs We Wish We'd Written Vol. II, will be released in May on respected bluegrass label Sugar Hill.
3. MC Hammer Joins Death Row: In the early '90s, MC Hammer was about as threatening as a litter of puppies. He wore crazy pants, sported a pair of reading glasses and was all around the kind of guy your mom wouldn't mind coming over after school and serving pizza bagels to.
Only after lagging record sales, Hammer grew tired of his trademark shtick and signed with Death Row. Out of nowhere, the ordained preacher was rapping about butts and broads as much as anyone else in Suge Knight's crew. My mom's still waiting for an apology, Rev.
2. Bob Dylan Is Born Again: Apparently bored of his success, Dylan was baptized a born-again Christian in the late '70s and released a pair of evangelical-themed albums to masses of discontented fans. The more successful of the two, Slow Train Coming, earned the folk pioneer a Grammy, but with the release of covers like "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking," Dylan's reputation and street cred sunk to an all-time low. As it turns out, hippies really don't dig tunes about Jesus.
1. Bruce Springsteen Finds Happiness: Following a rocky divorce, the Boss packed his bags and re-located from Jersey to Hollywood in a move that left fans scratching their heads and tugging at their hearts. For years, Bruce rocked for the plumbers and mechanics of the world, giving a voice to the working man during the Reagan years.
But suddenly, on 1992's Lucky Town, the Boss just sounded... over it. Rocks Off is all for inner peace, but listening to Bruce growl through 12 songs of self-realization and newfound contentment -- well, that just ain't right.
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