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John Mayer brings his hot licks, loose lips to the Fargodome

FARGO When John Mayer started getting radio airplay with his 2001 major-label debut "Room for Squares," he immediately earned a reputation as a sensitive singer/songwriter thanks to tracks like "Your Body is a Wonderland," "City Love" and "Love S...

John Mayer
John Mayer has been hailed as a guitar great since the Grammy-winning musician gained acclaim for his hit song "Your Body is a Wonderland." Associated Press

FARGO

When John Mayer started getting radio airplay with his 2001 major-label debut "Room for Squares," he immediately earned a reputation as a sensitive singer/songwriter thanks to tracks like "Your Body is a Wonderland," "City Love" and "Love Song for No One."

With a trail of high-profile exes like Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston, Mayer hasn't distanced himself from the lover-boy image.

These days, however, the song that most seems to define Mayer is "My Stupid Mouth."

When Mayer makes his Fargodome debut Thursday night, ticketholders shouldn't expect verbal pyrotechnics from the singer. Since his notorious interview in the March issue of Playboy, Mayer has kept his "Stupid Mouth" shut.

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In that now-infamous interview, Mayer referred to Simpson as "sexual napalm" and his penis as a white supremacist. As if that weren't enough, he threw in the N-word.

What Mayer uttered to journalist Rob Tannenbaum quickly overshadowed more than eight years of work and acclaim, including a handful of Grammys and that three of his four studio albums have gone platinum with over 1 million copies sold of each.

"He's kind of that guy that all guys wish they could be because he lets it all out there," says Y94 radio host JT. "He doesn't have that little trigger in the back of his head that says, 'Maybe it's not a good idea to say this; it might get me in trouble.' "

It also shut his mouth and toned down his prodigious Twitter postings. The Forum's request to interview the singer got no response, and other papers' attempts to talk to the rocker have been shot down.

Though he isn't talking to journalists, Mayer hasn't completely shut up. As the Playboy interview made news in February, Mayer made his mea culpa from a Nashville, Tenn., stage, apologizing to fans and band mates (drummer/producer Steve Jordan is black).

"I quit the media game. I'm out. I'm done," he told the crowd. "I just want to play my guitar."

Likewise, he stated his case through his second stage: Twitter.

"I am sorry that I used the word. And it's such a shame that I did because the point I was trying to make was in the exact opposite spirit of the word itself. It was arrogant of me to think I could intellectualize using it because I realize that there's no intellectualizing a word that is so emotionally charged."

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And in another string of posts, Mayer wrote:

"I think it's time to stop trying to be so raw in interviews ... It started as an attempt to not let the waves of criticism get to me, but it's gotten out of hand, and I've created somewhat of a monster. I wanted to be a blues guitar player. And a singer. And a songwriter. Not a shock jock. I don't have the stomach for it. Again, because I don't want anyone to think I'm equivocating: I should have never said the word, and I will never say it again."

But was the apology too little, too late?

Sometime collaborator Questlove, drummer for The Roots, tweeted that he was giving the singer the "benefit of the doubt" and chalked it up to a "punch line gone awry."

Other musicians were less forgiving. "There go all his black fans," said rapper/actor Ice Cube.

Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corrigan said the damage wasn't only to one faction of his fan base. "He's trying to destroy his career," Corrigan said.

Caryn Ganz, deputy editor for RollingStone.com, gives Mayer more credit.

"John Mayer is extremely media-savvy. ... He's well aware that everything he says, good and bad, brings him loads of press," Ganz told the Los Angeles Times.

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She added that while "he's definitely one of the most gifted guitarists in his generation," if he doesn't focus on his music, "he could be remembered for his mouth."

And in the pop-star scheme of things, Y94's JT says such Mayer's bark was worse than his own bite.

"It was John Mayer," the DJ says. "It's not like it was Barack Obama. We'd be shocked if it was somebody other than John Mayer saying it. ... It's John Mayer."

Mayer's musings

Part philosopher, part provocateur and almost always interesting, John Mayer has become the celebrity quote machine of this generation. Here are some of his more interesting statements about life, himself and his concerts:

"My biggest dream is to write pornography."

"I have male fans, but I'm persuading them to become female."

"I can outgay this guy right now" (to blogger Perez Hilton).

"Sometimes I wish that I was the weather; you'd bring me up in conversation forever. And when it rained, I'd be the talk of the day."

"High school is like a spork: It's a crappy spoon and a crappy fork, so in the end it's just plain useless."

"I can't wait to figure out what is wrong with me so I can say this is the way that I used to be."

"Hopefully people can see my music is tethered to my brain."

"I'm so tired I think I get the Doors."

"Love is a hot shower where your skin never prunes."

"I'm a love dealer."

"I feel my shows are like a late-night talk show that we settle down and do every night."

If you go

What: John Mayer with opening act Michael Franti & Spearhead

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Fargodome, 1800 N. University Drive

Tickets: $36, $46 and $66; available at the Fargodome box office, all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (800) 745-3000.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

Related Topics: FARGODOME
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