Though rock and guitar-based music has receded in popularity somewhat in recent years, some artists are still determined to keep it relevant.
There are all kinds of different people who still play in this genre, all with varying degrees of popularity or renown. One of the names that consistently ranks higher than many of the rest is John Mayer.
For those who are unfamiliar, Mayer is a singer-songwriter originally from Bridgeport, Connecticut. He has released seven solo albums and countless hit singles, though his style has shifted over time.
While he started off in more of a pop vein, he has since moved into soulful guitar music and blues.
Over time, Mayer has become known as a great ax-man in his own right.
His work on albums like Continuum earned him comparisons to Eric Clapton from some music critics. Although he has plenty of songs in his own catalogue which can demonstrate his songwriting and guitar playing, some of his best performances come from his interpretations of other musicians’ work.
As it turns out, Tom Petty is one of those artists who has had an influence on Mayer’s own music.
And to pay him back, Mayer did a cover of one of Petty’s most instantly recognizable songs.
The video in question was filmed live at the Nokia Theater, now known as the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
The song he covered was “Free Fallin’,” and he did it with the help of two other musicians, namely Robbie McIntosh and David Ray Harris, who also play guitar.
As the song begins, the melody is recognizable but it’s clear that Mayer has already made it all his own. While the original version of the song has some strong roots rock influences, Mayer’s version gives it a gentle, lilting touch that is a testament to his guitar skills.
After the first few notes, the song only builds from there.
While the three guitarists play gently and slowly for the majority of the song, they open it up once again towards the end of the song.
Before it’s over, the three of them start strumming quite a bit harder and Mayer’s voice soars!
While the original song by Petty has touched countless people’s hearts, Mayer’s interpretation clearly gets at the core spirit of the song. When it’s finally over, the crowd gives the musicians a huge round of applause.
Since it was posted in 2009, the video has earned some 87 million views around the world!
While it’s always great to hear artists work on their own material, sometimes hearing their interpretations of other work is even better.
Although it’s always a challenge to take something that so many people love and turn it into something new, that’s exactly what Mayer and the other musicians were able to do here.
Even for those who don’t consider themselves the biggest John Mayer fans, this video is definitely proof that guitar-based music is still alive and well—and Mayer can definitely play! After having heard both versions, which one do you prefer? If you could have any other artist cover this song, who would it be? For now, we’ll be listening to this one on repeat.
Thanks to John Mayer and the other musicians for their inspiring and moving take on a classic song! Watch the full performance in the clip below:
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