Songwriter/guitarist follows in Clapton's soft-rock footsteps

In 1977, Eric Clapton released Slowhand, featuring the song “Wonderful Tonight,” which has been showing up at weddings and in grocery stores ever since. By the 1990s, Clapton seemed to have embraced the commercial appeal of his slower hand, opting to discard (at least on record) his classic-rock sound of yesteryear — you know, the sound that drove some to proclaim him God — in favor of easy-listening tunes made for radio stations with “Lite” and “Sunny” in their names, culminating in the 2013 release of an album he literally named Old Sock.

It's not an uncommon transformation, but it hurts all the more because of what we all know Clapton is capable of (non-acoustic “Layla,” half of Cream's catalog, etc.). John Mayer is a similarly gifted guitarist and has shown glimpses of what he's capable of with the John Mayer Trio and on collaborations with blues musicians like Buddy Guy (I'll pass on Dead & Company), but instead of using his six-string powers for good, Mayer has recently followed the Clapton path, releasing more soft-rock pablum in the form of The Search for Everything, featuring the blah radio single “Love on the Weekend” and “You're Gonna Live Forever in Me,” Mayer's unsuccessful attempt at aping Randy Newman.

Even the rockin' version of Mayer has its pitfalls. I saw Mayer in concert years ago, and at one point during the show, he began a guitar solo by whispering into the mic, “Y'all don't mind if I jam a little while, do ya?” thereby ensuring that no matter how impressive his guitar skills, his irksome persona would still get in the way. (Fans only)