“Free Fallin'” by John Mayer

Like most of John Mayer’s work, this cover from his live album Where the Light Is has its detractors, but I’d say it’s a near-perfect fit for his style. Probably part of the reason some people objected to it, besides the perceived blasphemy of an act they don’t respect covering Tom Petty, is that this version is quite a bit more mellow and Easy Listening-esque than the original. But the guitar work is, as usual with Mayer, extremely impressive, and both the arrangement and Mayer’s somewhat bland and smug-sounding vocal delivery (which, I admit, has always been his biggest liability) are ideal for this song, which is after all the ultimate anthem to not giving a crap. Like Petty, Mayer sounds bland and self-satisfied when he talks about the girl in question and only shows any passion on the chorus, where he exults in his own indifference, so I’d say he perfectly grasps the meaning of the song. It isn’t quite as thrilling as Petty’s original, but it is a valid and highly effective interpretation of a fantastic song, and ranks as one of the best of Mayer’s live covers.

Verdict: Good

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