JohnMayer's Nashville fans were treated to more than just a rock concert lastnight. They also got alengthy, tearful apology, delivered mid-song, andthe promise - or threat, depending on how one feels about the musician - thathe'd be quitting what he referred to as "the media game."
"I'mout. I'm done. I just want to play my guitar," said Mayer during the closingsong, "Gravity."
Theannouncement comes after a misguided interview with Playboy magazine landedMayer in hot water. In the story, Mayer made racist comments and spokeexplicitly about his relationship with ex-girlfriend Jessica Simpson.
"Inthe quest to be clever I completely forgot about the people I love and thepeople that love me," he said from the stage. "I decided I would be as cleveras possible all the time and I did that at the expense of people I love andthat feels absolutely terrible."
Mayer broke down as he announced his exit from "the soundbite game, the media game" and introduced his backing band, whom he thanked forstanding by him and supporting him. "Everybody on this stage is here playingwith me not because they condone what I say.... They are on this stage becausethey support me as a possible future grown-up," he said, as the crowd cheered. One of Mayer's backing vocalists was intears.Mayer,known for giving juicy and often controversial sound bites to the press, had firsttaken to his Twitter account to try to do damage control. "Re: using the 'N word' in an interview: I am sorry that Iused the word. And it's such a shame that I did because the point I was trying to makewas in the exact opposite spirit of the word itself. It was arrogant of me tothink I could intellectualizeusing it, because I realize that there's no intellectualizing a word thatis so emotionally charged,"he wrote, in a series of posts.
A few posts later he was even more contrite, "Ishould have never said the word and I will never say it again."By the time he hit the stage that night, he was done not only with that word,but with speaking to the press entirely.
Ina January Rolling Stone interview, Mayer hinted at the struggle to think beforehe speaks. "I will continue to make these worldwide dignity mistakes as oftenas it takes to not make them anymore," he said. One would hope he has finallylearned the lesson.
Whatremains to be seen is how badly the incident will affect the public perceptionof Mayer. Two celebrities who createdcontroversies after using ethnically insensitive language -- Mel Gibson, andMichael "Kramer on 'Seinfeld'" Richards - have taken on higher publicprofiles only recently, years after the incidents in question. Gibson has a new movie,"Edge of Darkness," in theaters now, and Richards reprised hisfamously quirky Seinfeld character in the last season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm."