BY COURTNEY MAUM
Forced to take a year off from singing and on a strict Paleo diet to keep acid reflux from aggravating the granulomas that threaten his musical career, “Eat them, I don’t know: John Mayer’s Guide to Foraging” is a fact-based humor column tracking John Mayer’s efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle outside of the spotlight.
It has come to my attention that people want an explanation as to why I’m wearing three different coats on the cover of my album. Okay. People. First of all, the outer layer is a quilted coverlet. These hand-hewn pieces have been used since time immemorial in a myriad of different ways: horse blanket, human blanket, makeshift tent, whatever. I’m sorry if you prefer outerwear that only has one purpose. When it comes to dressing, my personal motto is: in diversification, we conquer.
Okay. Second layer is a barn jacket. With their quilted inner lying, weatherproofed outside and flattering cut-off at mid-hip, barn jackets are just the thing for performing rugged, outdoor chores like hay baling or participating in photo shoots.
The third layer—and I’m upset that people didn’t get this—is a bandana dress shirt. Have we come so far from the core of our American past that we don’t recognize a goshdarn red and white bandana? I mean, really. My stylist is the Vice President of Equestrian Paraphernalia Acquisition for all of the Ralph Lauren retail shops in North America. It’s a good thing she’s on the Argentinian polo circuit this fall, otherwise her feelings would be hurt.
There have been some additional questions about the way I’m holding my jeans up on the album cover. Yes, folks, it’s a lasso. And if you look at the expression on the dog there in the Arizona sweetgrass, you can tell that that son of a gun is just waiting for me to use it. (And no, @Cody Jacobs on Facebook, it’s not a black lab. It’s a…oh, wait. My accountant just put Candy Crush on pause to show me the doggie rental bill. Yeah. So, it’s a lab.) But back to the lasso. This is just another way that the #NewJohnMayer is Dressed for Distress. A sudden rainstorm comes and interrupts your picnic? I just throw a stick up under my quilted coverlet and we eat on. Rabid animal at your Fourth of July party? I’ll whip off my belt and lasso that thing eighteen miles away from your barbeque sauce.
Some people make fun of my headgear, but you know what, enough about my hats. Headgear keeps you humble. I’m half Jewish, so head coverings and I go way back.
And while we’re on the subject of covers, I’ve been getting a lot of anti-fan mail, like, “Why u hiding skin, Johnny?” with winky emoticons and the like. Okay. Real talk. I’ve never been as naked as I am on the cover of “Paradise Valley.” Three layers of outerwear, flannel-lined jeans and a cotton canvas T-shirt: that is me. You think the John Mayer who hosted the four-day musical boozefest known as the Mayercraft tour was showing a lot of skin? Admittingly, I spent the entire cruise in a yellow latex mankini, but I’ve never been so emotionally covered in my life.
It’s feels important to be forthright about my vulnerability as I head back into the wild country that originally shut me down. It’s no country for men who talk too much, is California. Land of my word ancestors: the Rolling Stone and Playboy articles that took me down, down, down.
But in addition to my colonial haberdashery and the pewter fleet of shamanic talismans that never leave my neck, my nutritionist’s got me on this organic strawberry diet to keep my spirits up as I make my way towards my soul’s opponent on this tour. After two years off of milk products, you have no idea how good it is to get back to a glass of Strawberry Nesquik. It’s a skim-milk Valentine. Brothers. Sisters. It’s like coming home.
Courtney Maum is the humor columnist behind the "Celebrity Book Review" on Electric Literature. The author of the chapbook, "Notes from Mexico," her debut novel, "I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You" is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster in the spring of 2014. Read more of her work at courtneymaum.tumblr.com or on Twitter: @cmaum