John Mayer is never far away from the average American. Spend more than 15 minutes in a dentist’s office, supermarket or listening to a workplace-friendly soft-rock radio station, and you’ll hear “Your Body is a Wonderland” at least four times. This is a scientific fact.
John Mayer is also well ahead of his time.
Who could forget the 2006 interview he gave with Rolling Stone, which opened with Mayer taking a hit of cannabis from a sophisticated vaporizer? We’ll gloss over the string of disturbingly casual racism that followed—these were the dark days when Michael Richards was still allowed onstage at comedy clubs—and focus instead on this: John Mayer was using a vape, way back in 2006!
Now, with cannabis legalization the law of the land for adults 21 and over in eight states—and out on tour with the surviving members of the Grateful Dead—John Mayer has jumped into the deep end of the marijuana pool, still wearing his boots and a three-piece suit. (He’s also still down enough to pal around and perform with Dave Chappelle, so that should count for something.)
“I’m actually very thoughtfully entering the cannabis life,” he told the New York Times back in March.
In an inexcusable breach of ethics, the Times failed to follow that up and plumb the depths—focusing instead on, like, Mayer’s musical career and the fact he used to date Katy Perry and his return from a years-long hiatus and other such trifles—and so it was left up to Rolling Stone to pick up the pieces.
The Stone, mind, is the outlet that published the Mayer interview that led to some of his mid-career troubles (though in a show of remarkable restraint, he waited until Playboy came calling before he compared his penis to white supremacist and big Donald Trump fanboy David Duke).
This time around, about the only party Mayer offended is the alcohol industry.
“I put [cannabis] where drinking used to go, and the quality of life has gone up considerably,” he told the magazine. “Drinking is a fucking con.”
“How much is enough?” he continued. “Every time I drank, I was looking for some sort of regulated amount. It always feels wrong for me. I always feel like I went overboard. ‘I said two, now it’s three, now we’re at four?’ I never had a serious issue with it, but I remember looking around going, ‘This feels rigged. I’m taking a break.’ There’s never an amount that felt like I was succeeding at life. It always felt wrong.”
And in response to Rolling Stone’s penetrating inquiry, whether weed makes him feel “too weird”:
“I was always the guy saying that I didn’t like altered states. Once you know who you are, then it becomes OK. I’m much more open-minded to small changes in consciousness. I remember every trip I ever took. I remember every thought I ever had when I laid there.”
To his credit, Mayer doesn’t appear to have blamed alcohol (or weed!) for his earlier transgressions.
And these days, he seems fairly together—well-adjusted, even. (Maybe incredible success and adulation will do that to do you.) He doesn’t deign to respond to another musician slamming his craft. He doesn’t feel the need to be Number One on Spotify or iTunes. Is it the marijuana? Is it something else?
We may never know. It doesn’t matter. The next time you’re perusing the canned beans in your local grocery store, you can look your fellow shopper in the eye, motion to the music coming from the overhead speaker and declare, “That’s a pothead you’re listening to.”