“Back To You” by John Mayer (2001)

Room For Squares dropped into my lap at some point in early fall 2001. New York City was still in a state of trauma after 9/11, and I was coming to work, just trying to come up with ways to get through each day. The store I was managing was being rebuilt, and I was sitting on the floor, digging through a box of promo CDs to test out the new listening stations that’d been installed. John Mayer was still very much a nobody at this point. “No Such Thing” was a couple of months away from being a hit, and I was somehow compelled enough to plop on a pair of headphones (I can’t remember whether they were the listening station headphones or the headphones from my own Discman) and listen to this guy I’d never heard of before.

I was sucked in pretty quickly. Strangely, I wasn’t immediately grabbed by any of the three eventual singles, but by the tracks “Neon” and “Back To You”. I’ll tell you about “Neon” some other time, but “Back To You” had a wistful quality that matched perfectly with my melancholy state at that time.

I’ve often felt like the two songwriters in my age range that best articulate my worldview in their lyrics are John Mayer (who’s about 18 months younger than me) and Kanye (who’s two years and a week younger than me). “Back To You” is really another love long (or maybe a “keeps losing and returning love song”), but it spoke to me in ways beyond what your everyday love song speaks to me. And it would be easy for me to ascribe it to the feelings I had when I initially became familiar with it, but I still have enough of a soft spot for it that I think it remains worthy of five stars.

The line “leave a light on/I’ll never give up on you” in the bridge has always created a strong emotional response in me. That’s an unconditional love-type feeling that I aspire to receive someday.

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