Song of the Day #1,889: ‘On the Way Home’ – John Mayer

john_mayer_paradise_valleyJohn Mayer’s sixth studio album, Paradise Valley picks up where last year’s Born and Raised left off, and that’s a very good thing.

Mayer has settled into a country folk groove that suits him perfectly. His delicate guitar work and pretty melodies are tailor made for this back porch acoustic vibe. And he’s writing some of the best songs of his career.

Paradise Valley is kinda sorta a concept album, tracing the arc of a summer love affair — or perhaps a love affair with summer. The album is full of songs about letting go, breaking free, moving on.

It also, as websites and magazines have trumpeted, contains a rebuttal to Taylor Swift’s ‘Dear John.’ Mayer’s ‘Paper Doll’ isn’t quite as biting as her track, but it does get in a few pointed jabs. The line “cut the cord and pull some strings and make yourself some angel wings” suggests that, in Mayer’s view, only one side of that story has been told.

But that song isn’t the best part of Paradise Valley, and neither is ‘Who You Love,’ Mayer’s duet with current flame Katy Perry, who also co-wrote the song. ‘Who You Love’ is almost a great song but the chorus is too repetitive for my taste.

I’m more partial to ‘Dear Marie,’ a simple blues song on finger-picked guitar in which Mayer sings to a high school flame and wonders where she ended up. I love these lines from that tune: “From time to time I go looking for your photograph online; Some county judge in Ohio is all I ever find.”

Today’s SOTD, ‘On the Way Home,’ is the album’s closing track, and it really sews up the overall feeling and theme of the album. It paints a lovely picture of the goodbyes after a lazy but meaningful summer.

This song reminds me of the sweet film The Way, Way Back, even if the kid in that movie never dated Taylor Swift.

[Verse 1]
The summer’s over
This town is closing
They’re waving people out of the ocean
We have the feeling like we were floating
We never noticed where time was going

Do you remember when we first got here
The days were longer, the nights were hot here
Now, it’s September; the engine’s started
You’re empty-handed and heavy-hearted

[Chorus]
But just remember on the way home
That you were never meant to feel alone
It takes a little while, but you’ll be fine
Another good time coming down the line

[Verse 2]
You’ll go back to love that’s waiting
I’ll unpack in a rented room
How’s that life you swear you’re hating
Grass is greener: that makes two

[Chorus 2]
But just remember on the way home
That you were never meant to feel alone
Just look me up, get back on the bus
I’ll see you next week if you need my trust

[Bridge]
Life ain’t short, but it sure is small
You get forever but nobody at all
Life ain’t short, but it sure is small
You get forever but nobody at all

It don’t come often, and it don’t stay long

[Chorus 3]
But just remember on the way home
That you don’t ever have to feel alone
Just stay on the run; get off the grid
Hide yourself out like you know that I did
And if you might find that you’re running is done
A little bit of Heaven never hurt no one

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,889: ‘On the Way Home’ – John Mayer

  1. Dana says:

    It is well documented on this blog my feelings on John Mayer. Those feelings range from sometimes enjoying his music to general indifference to subtle disdain to (rarely) outright contempt.

    This song falls somewhere slightly north of the general indifference category.

    Oh, and by the way, as much as I probably should dislike “Paper Doll” (as my wife and daughter do), I have to admit that I find it to be one of his better, more compelling songs.

  2. Clay says:

    I’ll flip the argument you made yesterday and suggest that if somebody else was behind many of Mayer’s songs (James Taylor, say, or Sting), you’d like them a whole lot more.

    I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, incidentally. It’s probably true in both directions for a lot of the music I like.

    • Dana says:

      Yeah, maybe. Mayer, Taylor, Jack Johnson, Tracy Chapman all fall neatly into the very safe MOR zone. And I think as to each, I reach a point of indifference at some point. What surprises me is that you seem to feel that way about many of these type artists, but apparently not Mayer and, quite frankly, I don’t get it. Maybe I am missing a broader range in his style, but nothing I have heard and nothing you have featured suggests that.

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