69. Song No. 714: “Back to You,” John Mayer
No Room for Squares, 2001
For as reluctant as I was to admit to actively enjoying a Goo Goo Dolls album, I am in no way ashamed of all the John Mayer I music I own.
Growing up, my bedroom was the only one on the bottom floor, and I reveled in the unintended perk of being the least-favorite child by making the den’s TV a late-night go-to when I didn’t feel like reading or dicking around on AOL chat boards ’til some ungodly hour. I’d wrap myself up in a giant blanket, shuffle down the hall, and plop in front of the practically muted television for hallmarks of insomnia like 2 a.m. syndicated sitcoms, edited-for-basic-cable movies and recorded performances of mostly bands I’d never heard of.
One of those broadcast concerts featured a then-totally-unknown John Mayer, who sounded enough like Dave Matthews Jr. to appeal to my sense of guilty pleasures. I don’t remember how long I watched or most of the songs he played, except for that “3×5” was the tune that convinced me to buy an album I knew nothing about otherwise.
I can’t remember the last time I listened to the whole thing, but Room for Squares is filled with songs I feel like I’ll always love. The catchy songs are catchy as hell, but plenty danced around a melancholy and wistfulness that I could (and, let’s be honest, still) relate to and presented a completely different way of appealing to my too-sensitive nature than my less mainstream genres of choice did. If my dating history and musical taste share any commonalities, it’s being a sucker for a guy with a guitar.
“Back to You,” appropriately enough, is one of those songs I always come back to: If it comes out of nowhere, I’m definitely giving it a few listens because it is a beautiful example of that heartbroken nostalgia I love about the whole of its album. It’s one of those perfect pairings of words and music that tells a story I think anyone who’s survived and then obsessively ruminated over or masochistically dwelt in a breakup can relate to.