Ten years ago, John Mayer released his sixth studio album, Born and Raised. Recorded with producer Don Was and a band loaded with folk luminaries, the record marked a notable transition away from the pop sounds that had made him a star.
The album followed a period of highly publicized personal turmoil for the seasoned hitmaker, who had largely retreated from the public eye following a pair of controversial 2010 magazine interviews. That moment of solitude and reflection spurred Mayer to craft the set of lyrically introspective folk and Americana tunes that would become Born and Raised.
Mayer connected with Was and quietly assembled a band including bassist Sean Hurley, seasoned session drummer Aaron Sterling (Taylor Swift, Kris Kristofferson), and famed pianist Chuck Leavell (Allman Brothers Band, The Rolling Stones) to record the material for the new record. The sessions also included guest appearances from West Coast folk-rock legends David Crosby and Graham Nash (CSNY) along with pedal steel guitarist Greg Leisz, who would later go on to perform regularly with Bob Weir’s Wolf Bros alongside Was.
The album’s immediate commercial performance paled in comparison to Mayer’s previous efforts, but its Americana sound and earnest lyricism are seen by many as a critical inflection point in his career—the first lines in a new chapter about eschewing pop trends in his solo work and wandering down the Golden Road with Dead & Company. A decade later, Born and Raised stands as one of Mayer’s most celebrated works.
To mark the tenth anniversary of the release of Born and Raised, John Mayer took to social media to recount his thoughts on the album and its creation. “I’m not usually big on ‘album birthdays’ (I tend to keep my eyes on the road ahead and not look back) but this is a very special record that means a lot to me, and that I’ve learned means a lot to people,” he explained.
“It’s the least documented album I’ve ever made – only some Polaroids and a few iphone pics were taken,” Mayer continued. “It was a very special experience that those working on it knew was special at the time, which is pretty rare. It wasn’t made with any consideration for the outside world. It was a deeply personal and tightly-knit creative process that took nothing external into account.”
“When it first came out, nobody really took to it,” he added. “It didn’t have the same chordal complexity that I was known for at the time, and instead focused more on the lyrical aspect of things. I think there’s a sincerity to the relative simplicity of the chords that let the words carry the message. To this day, these songs are still some of my favorites to play live. The friendships that were forged on this record were deep, and those bonds continue…”
Mayer wrapped up his note on ten years of Born and Raised with a few words of wisdom: “If I may be so bold as to offer some advice: the fact that this record has grown over the years in terms of people’s connection with it is hardcore proof that you shouldn’t always make art for the moment you’re releasing it in. Release week is one fraction of the lifespan of an album, and sometimes it’s worth making a statement that blooms over time. Everyone who worked on this album knew from the beginning it touched on some rare magic. And that was always going to be enough – but the fact that it’s found a place in people’s hearts is a wonderful bonus, and proof that we weren’t crazy in feeling like we’d made something meaningful. So thank you for growing up with and growing into this love-filled little record called Born And Raised. Maybe it’s time for another one like it…”
Read John Mayer’s full reflection on the creation of Born and Raised in honor of its tenth anniversary and listen to the album below.
Following the conclusion of his extensive Sob Rock arena tour earlier this month, Mayer will now shift gears to Dead & Company as he prepares for a summer outing with the Grateful Dead spinoff act. For a full list of upcoming Dead & Co 2022 tour dates, head here.
John Mayer – Born and Raised – Full Album
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