When it comes to celebrity hook-ups, there are some I just don't get. One that bothered me for some time is the coupling of John Mayer and Jessica Simpson. (For the record, I'm no fan of either, though I do happen to be listening-for research purposes only-to Mayer's first CD as I write this, and may I just say that my ear drums? They're bleeding.) But how I came to surrender valuable neurons to the contemplation of such an inconsequential matter deserves explanation.
One of my guilty pleasures is my subscription to US magazine. It arrives every week amongst varied solicitations from Doctors Without Borders, Hillary Clinton and NOW all jammed in one bundle along with my issues of The Nation and Mother Jones. It's the ultimate care package for a political junkie of a woman desperate for a little mental anesthesia yet with a reputation to protect. Fortunately, the U.S. Postal Service recognizes my plight and acts with complicity when it shrouds my Dirty Secret at the core of a bundle secured with an elastic band.
I don't actually read any of the words in the rag because there are simply too many of them redundantly describing images that stand well enough by themselves. What more possibly needs to be said of Britney's half-shaved stubbly dome or her barely censored bald eagle? If I wanted to tarnish my 45-minute weekly trivial indulgence with human-interest stories, I'd have subscribed to People.
Having no need for words, I glean the essential information by scanning headlines and studying photos. Then I hurry to shower off the cheap, dirty feeling and rid my home of incriminating evidence by passing each issue to one of any number of my more respectable girlfriends, who would never debase themselves by actually purchasing such vile pulp outside of an airport. (You know who you are.)
I admit to enjoying the opening pages featuring the finest couture worn each week. It's almost entirely devoid of snark and allows me a moment of hallucinatory euphoria during which I wear the Proenza Schouler dress and Christian Louboutin heels. But this is the only feature in the publication that doesn't induce thecharacteristic whirring sound of my soul being vaporized. The rest is an embarrassing habit, a twisted validation of my comparatively normal life and a compulsory escape from the atrocities being conducted by the squatter in the White House and his ilk. US magazine is my natural antihypertensive, allowing me to shift my focus for a few moments from the dangerous absurdity of The Dark Overlords to the fleeting relationships of wannabe icons.
Which is how I became obsessed with the coupledome of Mayer and Simpson. I couldn't quite decipher the chemistry on this one and pondered why he would go out with her. I'm sure that last bit elicits an eye-roll and disbelieving Duh! from readers, specifically those of the penile persuasion. So let me just acknowledge that I get the biological angle. As a friend of mine told me recently, “If you're a mammal and you don't want to fuck Jessica Simpson, kill yourself.” I get that-but still. There's something amiss when a guy who appears to be at least mildly contemplative dates the girl who thinks buffaloes are winged creatures.
As if I'd called in a request for clarification, National Public Radio-the antidote to my dalliance with the tabloids-aired a painfully revealing interview with Mayer last week. While talking with Steve Inskeep, Mayer accepted the title of spokesperson for his generation as he defended his snappy hit, “Waiting on the World to Change.” It's a bouncy, predictable pop-tart that, on its face, Inskeep noted, “sounds like an anti-war song,” but to me sounds like (and has all the appeal of) mating cats:
“Now if we had the power / To bring our neighbors home from war / They would have never missed a Christmas / No more ribbons on their door. / It's not that we don't care / We just know that the fight ain't fair / So we keep on waiting / Waiting on the world to change.”
I wanted to be dazzled but was disappointed as the 29-year-old artist opined that kids don't like to be told what to do and such is the reason for this hollow toe-tapper, this uninspired designer knockoff. In his self-proclaimed honey-from-a-tap voice, he sang hypothetical alternate lyrics which he believes wouldn't have produced the same chart-topping success he currently enjoys: “We gotta change it / change it / we gotta change the world.”
Mayer came across the radio waves as more interested in standing for an acceptance speech than standing for deeper meaning. Clearly, he's disinterested in getting Dixie Chicked. And, anyway, it's madness to expect searing, thought-provoking political statements from the guy diddling the girl who didn't know Chicken of the Sea wasn't actually chicken. I finally see the love connection-and my error in attributing him with a greater intellectual capacity than his current elbow adornment.
Further peddling his snake oil, Mayer explained that his songwriting goal “is just to kind of present an idea.” Well, what the hell kind of idea is “waiting on the world to change”? An authentic songwriter and true activist from another era once wrote, “The times-they are a-changin'.” Change is inevitable and is ultimately dependent on the action or inaction of humans. While Mayer fans are busy texting each other from his concerts, killing time waiting around, more than 3,200 of their less-fortunate counterparts have been killed in Iraq. More than 10 times that many have been wounded. We simply cannot afford Mayer's brand of anti-war song or the subsequent indoctrination of ever more bystanders.
This tune, consisting of canned rhythms and lyrics dressed up to appear meaningful, is nothing but middle-of-the-road, low-cal crapcake seductive only to the Simpsonesque. In the name of damage control, I wish he'd stick to what he knows. I wish he'd opt for the lesser of two evils and sing about his you-complete-me bodacious girlfriend crumpled in bed sheets and leave well enough alone with anthems of the apathetic. His generation hardly needs any prodding in that direction, and they'll buy his albums either way.
Write to aaryn@SDcitybeat.com and editor@SDcitybeat.com.