Album Review: John Mayer, “The Search For Everything”

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10 years later, this masterpiece holds up.

Folks I haven’t seen a divide this great since Fallout: New Vegas or the first Mowgli’s album.

While I hope I’m not oversimplifying it by jumping to this conclusion, what I perceive as the cause of this divide comes down to the fact that the “entertainment journalists” that cut and paste off-the-cuff remarks for a living and fire up their cliché generators for each and every album review to spit out adjectives like “blistering,” “confident,” and (ironically) “predictable” either A. Don’t follow John very in depth or B. Didn’t really listen to the whole album. And I mean listen.

They hear the opener “Still Feel Like Your Man” and think “Oh well I’d be remiss to not jump to the conclusion that he still feels like her man,” and then half of them whip up some article about him spending four years making an album just to get Katy Perry back.

Those people could throw a football at the ocean and miss. Now I’m no simpleton, there’s no doubt John had Katy Perry in mind and that his experience with her is the major inspiration for this album. But something like denying the prettiest girl in the room because your mind is still stuck on someone else, even though she tells you straight up that she wants you, doesn’t make me think of Katy Perry. Once the covert genius of that line hits you, my dear reader, it won’t make you think of Katy Perry either. It makes you think of someone in your life, as does the rest of this album once you actually sit and really listen and just be alone with it for at least one front-to-back. The lyrics will really hit you in a different way.

It would be reckless for me to not title this review something like The Search For Everything, or One Rico Suave’s Guide To Moving On. Because I’ve essentially painted this narrative in my head of a story being told here that is universally applicable. The breakup or parting of ways comes prior to the album’s starts, and that album is John going through WAVES of how he thinks and feels about this person.

On “Emoji Of A Wave” he’s trying to decide whether this person is trying to hurt him or if they’re out there thinking about him too. “Helpless” is sort of an extension – being aware that your brain is responsible for the thoughts from both sides of this spectrum of holding someone in contempt one minute and being sad about them the next. “Love On The Weekend” is remembering how you were once there for this person who would use you as a getaway from the stresses of the world: “You’ve been working, I’ve been waiting, to pick you up and take you from this place.”


So this song is stunning. An anthem about nature vs. nurture. If you listen closely you can hear Francis Galton fist-pumping in his grave. But if you listen even closer you can hear John contemplating the person he is in relation to his parents and brothers. Would he hypothetically be able to change this person in order to make someone else happy, or would he simply be hiding his innate self?

There are two kinds of folks in the world: folks that have had doubts about relationships (serious or not) and liars. It’s about as common as chlamydia because I once heard that’s pretty common. But this raises two important questions:

Would Chlamydia be a beautiful name if it weren’t a sexually transmitted disease?


“Will I dim the lights inside me just to satisfy someone?”

Can you change the way you feel about someone to make that person happier? Can you stop loving someone to make them happier? Can you dumb-down your innate self to make it work? Did Kendrick Lamar ask these questions on his new album? Hard to say, especially if you haven’t listened.

On “Changing,” which seems to be the consensus weak point of the album, John points out that we don’t look at people the same way after parts of us have changed. We’ll always follow our hearts, but hearts can change too, and thus we have the ever-pervasive theme in music of humans being wanna-be fate-fighters. (Out Of Control by U2 comes to mind here.)

I picture “Theme to ‘The Search For Everything'” as two things:

  1. The best Zelda soundtrack music ever.
  2. The turning point where John has this epiphany of being able to think of this person, but not be sad about them and just smile.

But on “Moving On and Getting Over” he explains the difference between the two – how he’s moved on but not gotten over. He stills feels her all the time, he’s always going to keep that door cracked just in case she has a change of heart, but ultimately it’s taken him “so long to say ‘so long'” and it’s time for him to move on and find a new girl.

“Never On The Day You Leave” seems like a recollection of the day the breakup actually happened, or maybe a warning sign to listeners that once she’s gone, the love just grows exponentially. You’ll start to notice the little things, so before you “watch a girl become a ghost,” GOD DAMN IT TELL HER ABOUT THE LITTLE THINGS YOU LOVE!

I picture “Rosey” and “Roll It On Home” as part of the moving on process, looking for comfort in someone that doesn’t necessarily bring it. Although I’ll admit, “Roll It On Home” is sort of the “a merman wouldn’t have a penis if the fish part was on bottom” of this little narrative of mine. But I don’t care I like the song anyways 🙂

And now for the big one. “You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me” is looking back at this person and knowing they’re always a part of you. Planets are sometimes responsible for making other planets, and even they drift apart sometimes. The moon’s orbit is getting further and further from Earth every passing second, but it’s still got a grip on the sea. And even if you’re with someone else, “you’re gonna live forever in me.” It may sound like a melancholy promise to someone who may not even be listening, but I know if it were me, I wouldn’t care if they heard. Partly because it’s more for me, and partly because I’d have written a masterpiece like this.


I don’t think of Katy Perry when I listen to this. I don’t know who *YOU* are, but I think of *YOU*. Maybe you’re the girl on the cover of Wave 2, maybe I’ve met you already, maybe I haven’t. But whoever *YOU* are, I’m going to think of *YOU* every time I listen to The Search For Everything. Because in my opinion, *YOU* are everything, and when I do find out or realize who *YOU* are, I’m going to look back and remember this album and how it made me realize *YOU* were part of me the whole time.


Favorite Song:

Arguing whether it’s “In The Blood” or “You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me” is as futile as arguing the difference between being naked and being nude. I pick both. Rome had two emperors and that worked out fine. One is a BOPPAH and one is more has more sentimental meaning.

Tickles My Balls:

Love me some “Emoji Of A Wave”

Make My Ears Bleed (the good way):


Vogon Poetry:

“Changing.” Although that live solo though…


OH and the elephant in the room:

While I feel every song has genius lyrics, I can see how people are irked by subpar chord progressions and arrangements. But, I also disagree with that one since A. he’s done that in the past on songs like “Born and Raised,” “Something Like Olivia,” “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey,” and “Not Myself” and B, who cares. The live shows are still amazing and as a hardcore blink-182 fan I find it much easier to say “who gives a shit how many chords there are, it’s just awesome.”


John Mayer, The Search For Everything: 

Hard 4/4.2

(I’ll come up with a more creative yet simultaneously satisfying scoring system later.)



3 thoughts on “Album Review: John Mayer, “The Search For Everything”

  1. jpostcards says:

    Hahahaha… Enjoyed reading this. Agree with the overall thought. The only reason I’d think of Katy Perry while listening to the album is because JM was quoted extensively from that NYT piece about it. And people went to town about that bit and forgot that the man has serious musical talent.

    I’m still letting the songs grow on me. Helpless makes me want to dance even with my two left feet! You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me and In The Blood are my favourites for now.


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