John Mayer and his “Search for Everything”

John Mayer is back! Nearly four years since the release of his last album Paradise Valley, the singer-songwriter has gifted fans with his latest studio effort, The Search for Everything. Taking a detour from tradition, Mayer is releasing his newest collection four songs at a time every month, with the first group out today.

The soulful storyteller has spent the past few years touring and entertaining with rock legends Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kruetzmann as part of Dead and Company. The Grammy winner has a busy year ahead of him, with a 19-date tour planned with Dead and Company, along with his own solo tour in promotion of The Search for Everything.

Given the title of the album, it’s suggested that Mayer may be doing a bit of soul searching with his new music, something he is already plenty familiar with. Here are eight songs from his brilliant career that each search for something specific in their own right.

1) Waiting on the World to Change

Searches for: Peace

This Grammy-winning anthem from 2006’s Continuum is one of Mayer’s most beloved songs due to its poignant way of making political statements while staying oddly optimistic and relevant. War, media influence and generational differences are the major issues brought to light, as the lyrics force listeners to wonder whether it’s best to take action or simply wait for the world to change for the better.

2) Daughters

Searches for: Familial love

In “Daughters,” Mayer teaches listeners of the importance of parental influence. Sure, it sounds like a cheesy concept, but Mayer’s genius as a songwriter has led him to create a beautiful, heartfelt, and even slightly melancholy story–one that earned a Song of the Year Grammy win in 2005.

3) Slow Dancing in a Burning Room

Searches for: Happiness among heartache

Neither a love song nor a break-up song, “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” focuses on the topic of a relationship nearing its inevitable end. Though the lovers know that neither one is happy with the relationship, they are equally reluctant to end things. It is a heartbreaking story that packs a punch, especially as Mayer finishes the chorus with the lines “We’re going down and you know that we’re doomed. My dear, we’re slow dancing in a burning room.”

4) Who Says

Searches for: Freedom

This single from 2009’s Battle Studies is a simple tune about longing for personal freedom and independence. Mayer sings of the things he wishes to do in life without thought or judgment from others. Lyrics which best capture this sentiment are “Who says I can’t be free from all of the things that I used to be? Re-write my history? Who says I can’t be free?”

5) Dear Marie

Searches for: Old Love

This simple, but meaningful track from Paradise Valley shows Mayer trying to reconnect with a first love, not for the sake of rekindling the flame, but to reflect on how much time can change a person. It’s a bittersweet tune that brings the listener through the journey of Mayer’s thoughts while writing it. Standout lyrics are “Remember me, I’m the boy you used to love when you were fifteen. Now I wonder what you think when you see me in a magazine.”

6) Stop This Train

Searches for: Youth

Written while experiencing a quarter-life crisis, “Stop This Train” is John Mayer’s cry to avoid growing up. The reflective lyrics masterfully compare life to a moving train, one that does not slow down no matter how much you wish it would. In the end, it’s a beautiful ride that will be worth it in the end.

7) Friends, Lovers, or Nothing

Searches for: Answers

The title of this song is pretty self-explanatory. As Mayer puts it in the chorus, “Friends, lovers, or nothing? There can only be one. Friends, lovers or nothing? There’ll never be an in between so give it up.” A relationship in question, he yearns for the truth to find out if they will continue on as friends, in love, or simply as strangers.

8) Gravity

Searches for: everything?

Dedicated John Mayer fans know that this is perhaps the singer’s quintessential song and certainly his most beloved. He has gone on the record to say that it was the “most important” song he’s ever written, as he thoughtfully croons, “Gravity is working against me and gravity wants to bring me down.”