John Mayer on craftsmanship

I’ve written before about my appreciation of John Mayer’s artistry as a musician. I just saw this new documentary, Someday I’ll Fly, about his career and came away impressed. It’s a thorough review of how he got to mastery. Mayer narrates and offers several gems of insight throughout:

“I used to be at home in my bedroom and pretend that I was on stage, and now I’m on stage and I pretend that I’m home in my bedroom.”

“I want to bring my playing all the way up to the the top of ability…there are some nights my playing goes over my ability. I kind of hit that place where I’m unsure. But then I always find that I get a little further into the craft by doing that.”

“That craft responds to truth, and you’ve got to stay truthful. No matter how many records you’ve sold or performances you’ve played, you come home, the whirlwind stops and you go back to the craft.”

When he was a teenager Mayer was so obsessed with getting good at playing guitar that his mom had to give him a “guitar curfew”, a time he had to stop playing every night. John Mayer wasn’t born with a gift for guitar. He worked hard to become great.

It’s both comforting and convicting to know that our own levels of mastery are completely up to us. If we want to get really good at something, we only need to be willing to obsess enough to consistently devote quality time and smart effort.