Singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer John Mayer at Carson Center on March 2nd. Click the slideshow above.
Mayer took suggestions from the student audience about the defining qualities of songwriting.
Chris Sampson, founding director of the Popular Music program, moderated the discussion with students.
Mayer also spoke about the creation of his song “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me,” which was a months-long effort.
(All photos by Erin Offenhauser)
John Mayer is many things: a soulful singer-songwriter, a talented guitarist, and a genre-bending, 7-time GRAMMY Award-winner. But, as he proved to students in USC Thornton’s Contemporary Music division last Friday, he’s also an insightful teacher.
Taking to the stage of Carson Center with Popular Music founding director Chris Sampson, Mayer pulled up a whiteboard to discuss his songwriting process and take questions from a packed house of students.
Towards the end of an exceptional masterclass, Mayer drew on the example of “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me” from his 2017 album, The Search for Everything, confiding that he had struggled with the intimate piano ballad for months before the lyrical and melodic elements finally came together in one inspired evening.
That’s a cliché of songwriting, Mayer warned the students, pointing out that such moments of inspiration usually obscure the many weeks and months spent grappling with raw words and music.
“It sounds simple, but it took forever,” Mayer has said of the song, which he called “the spiritual centerpiece of the album.”
USC Thornton Popular Music students will put their songwriting skills to the test at the annual Senior Showcase concert at the legendary El Rey Theatre on March 26th (Free RSVP required). Click here to learn about more Popular Music events this semester.