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#156872 - 08/23/05 05:52 PM John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
Joined: Feb 2001
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Ande Rasmussen Offline
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Ande Rasmussen  Offline
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John Mayer's Songwriting Contest

While working on his new album, the Grammy winner offers up a handful of lyrics swimming around his head and asks you to do the rest

By John Mayer

One of the most natural (and absolutely maddening) facets of creating music is that the product is constantly being refined. What you thought was a brilliant song title yesterday is probably just good enough to be a passing lyric in the third verse. That chorus you lost sleep over? Turns out the chords work perfectly in the bridge of that other tune you've been trying to finish for eight months.

I've never experienced anything like the recording process involved in making Continuum, my third-album-to-be. The songs continually beg for more work when they fall short of being great. I had been working on a very trance-inducing two-chord tune when I wrote the lyrics below. As it turned out, the song didn't need lyrics at all. Looking to make some use of the time and emotion I spent writing them, I've decided to share a few random excerpts with you here:


I keep a note that I wrote on a taxi receipt
It says, “Don't listen to anybody other than me”
I hit the big time for a nominal fee
You lose a friend in the end for every dream that you see come true
I got scars upon scrapes, I've got bruises on breaks
Masochistically committed to see how much of this I'll take
Three years under water, and I ain't even got the shakes
I'm going deeper and deeper and deeper

I've got dreams to remember, I've got days to forget
I've got some phone calls in to God but he ain't called me back just yet


I'm still not done with these lyrics. But I don't want to let them sit idly on my mind's shelf.

So here's my offer: I'm inviting all aspiring songwriters to write their own chords and melodies around my lyrics. Go ahead, I'm not using them. You can tell people that we wrote a song together. I want to hear what you come up with, so send a CD of your song to the address listed below. The best submissions will be featured here on Esquire.com, and I'll announce my favorite in an upcoming issue. But don't be surprised if these words end up in some other song I've yet to write. Until they wrap my album in cellophane, anything can happen.

Calling All Musicians, Amateur and Otherwise


To share with the world your adaptation of John Mayer's lyrics, send your submission on CD to:
Esquire
1790 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
Attention: Music Department

All styles of interpretation are welcome. All submissions must be postmarked no later than September 30 to be eligible. Esquire reserves the right to retain each compact disc received and to offer the received material as streaming audio on esquire.com. And, yes, Mr. Mayer retains the publishing rights to his lyrics.
GRAND PRIZE: THE WINNER WILL RECEIVE A FENDER JOHN MAYER SIGNATURE STRATOCASTER.


http://www.esquire.com/features/articles/2005/050804_mfe_mayer.html

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[This message has been edited by Ande Rasmussen (edited 08-23-2005).]


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#156873 - 08/23/05 06:19 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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[Linked Image] Clever for business sakes. Gets more people involved with waiting for that third album. Just a bit tacky in my opinion. Many will probably do it though. Now, if it were only a Les Paul......

John Daubert


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#156874 - 08/24/05 12:44 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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That's a rather odd setup there. You write the music to his lyric but it won't be used even if you win?


Thanks,
Bill
(New Sig: What do I know? Good luck, songwriter!)
#156875 - 08/24/05 01:27 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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RobertK Offline
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Just another guy looking for someone to write music to his lyrics! Haven't we already got enough of those? [Linked Image]

#156876 - 08/24/05 01:42 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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I absolutely adore John Mayer's music as well as his persona, but this is really odd. John seems to be a quirky guy, but this set-up might be a little too off-the-wall for me. He's like, "hey, write me a song that I'm not going to use...but I'll send you a guitar if it's good." Gee thanks, John.

He can keep his guitar as far as I'm concerned. I thought it was going to be a good prize.

Gena [Linked Image]


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#156877 - 08/24/05 02:01 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Well,
I don't know who the H**l John Mayer is but I do know how hard it is to write a song. Maybe he ought to just seek some outside songs from songwriters. Go ahead John, put your request in some tip sheets and we will send you some songs. Then maybe you can say you recorded one of MY songs.


Ray E. Strode
#156878 - 08/24/05 02:03 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Brian Austin Whitney Online content
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Well.. John is one of the most successful recording artists in the industry today. He won for Song of the Year in the Grammy's this year with his song "Daughters" and sells out concerts around the world. = ) Like him or not, he's certainly backing up his statements with a pretty impressive track record and seems to be pretty well respected amongst the artist crowds I know.

Brian


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#156879 - 08/24/05 02:08 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Ande Rasmussen Offline
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i just assumed everyone would know who he is

he attended Berklee
he's won 2 grammy awards

his two big songs are
"Your Body is a Wonderland"
and
"Daughters"

he's a very good writer and his songs seem written for his fans

Ande

Quote
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Ray E. Strode:
Well,
I don't know who the H**l John Mayer is but I do know how hard it is to write a song. Maybe he ought to just seek some outside songs from songwriters. Go ahead John, put your request in some tip sheets and we will send you some songs. Then maybe you can say you recorded one of MY songs.
</font>


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#156880 - 08/24/05 02:17 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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David Wright Offline
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Yeah John Mayers song "Daughters" beat out Tim McGraws "Live like you were dying" at the grammys for song of the year.

About the contest...
Even though I like his work.
I think those lyrics are not up to par.
The chorus seems ok but the rest is not good in my opinion..
There isn't even a constant meter to them..
Unless this is going to be a jazzy type singing its going to be difficult.

I gave it a whirl on the guidder last night
and had Nothin....

DAvid

#156881 - 08/24/05 05:12 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Actually, I think it's a pretty impressive idea. Not tacky in the least. It's very much like some people around here posting lyrics to make adjustments and sometimes asking for people with musical help. Am I wrong?

I've been fortunate enough to play with John on an audition just before his first major tour when his first album was breaking big. I had no idea who he was from a whole in the wall, but a fellow JPF member was floored that I got the audition (he thought the world of him). Personally I really like his music and his lyrics.

The audition was amazing. He was very personable, and for the first time at any audition that I did - I didn't dwarf the aritst, we're both about the same height 6'4". He loved the fact that I played a 7 string guitar, and his bassist was asking me all kinds of questions. In the end, I ended up being second pick to a guy that played keyboards who could double on guitar. While I was a guitarist would could double on keyboards. Oh well, at least I had fun and got to play with a fantastically talented group of people.

Those lyrics for the contest are very obvious about someone who's living their dream and the troubles that come with doing that. I'm mid stream with that right now about to head out on the road. So I can relate.

I don't think I'll write any music to those lyrics, but I certainly don't think it's a tacky contest.

Jody

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www.jodywhitesides.com

[This message has been edited by Whitesides (edited 08-25-2005).]


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#156882 - 08/24/05 08:00 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Brian Austin Whitney Online content
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My thought when reading it was "oh.. that's sounds like something fun for lyricists to work on." Does anyone remember when writing music was simply fun? That there didn't have to be anything more to it?

If he were charging money to enter/submit or something, that would be different. But I think it's pretty harmless in general and a fun way to connect with fans who also like to write.

Brian


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#156883 - 08/24/05 09:39 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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I can't see anything tacky in it either.
And what's to remember about when music was fun?
It is fun.
And gets to be more fun every day in every way.
And these lines look like fun to fool with too.
Some rarely sen bits in them to add interest and differance.
Goes along fine as is.
Bit of a shuffle for personal taste sake and looks like it could be a bit more fun on the pile.
Graham


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http://www.soundclick.com/bands/2/grahamhenderson_music.htm

#156884 - 08/24/05 10:15 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Johnny Daubert Offline
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Good points. Maybe tacky is not a good word for that. Maybe just good business promotion for the third album, and a chance for someone to get a free guitar. "Harmless" is probably more accurate.

Just wiped the tacky substance off with "goop-off".

Iamgine hearing ALL the entries? Bet there will be one extreme to the other. Could even give the winner something to further their own involvement with writing. Viewpoints can vary with added thoughts to consider.

John Daubert


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
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#156885 - 08/25/05 08:25 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Quote
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Brian Austin Whitney:
Does anyone remember when writing music was simply fun?

[/B]</font>


Yeah, and then lawyers, agents, managers and contracts get involved and it becomes a BUSINESS! Next thing you know, you're the musical equivalent of a candy bar with 100 people trying to get a smidge of the nougat... [Linked Image]

Davey O.

#156886 - 08/25/05 09:15 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Brian Austin Whitney Online content
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Davey,

Only if you allow that to happen to you and your musical efforts. The choice is totally yours.

Brian


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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

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#156887 - 08/25/05 11:04 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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#156888 - 08/26/05 01:15 AM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Johnny Daubert Offline
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If a label and a 90 others would want "me" to be their candy bar, I think that would be amazing, and a chance to get really working at the art of being an artist more! Everybody wins! Working at doing our music! Fifth Avenue Bar thank you! (my street actually!)

Just have to ask the lawyers "what will I really be doing, by what this and that says"?
It would be up to the artist to sign or not, giving all the details. Knowing it's a business in the first place should place the situations to come in the "no surprise" category.

Smidge away, as long as I agree to everything up front. I'm willing to play anywhere for free, so getting paid, even if others make more at first, would be even better. Probably would have a piano and other players as well! Maybe even amps!!!
I would be the roady for a while if that would help. What am I talking about anyway....who wants a baby boomer as their candy bar? Maybe have to call me "50th Avenue Bar"!

John Daubert


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
Songnado I and II:
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#156889 - 08/26/05 12:37 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Ande Rasmussen Offline
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unfortunately that's not the case for most of us
just those who've made it to the top and those who've managed to stay there and create a sustainable music career.

ande

Quote
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by 3daveyO3:
Yeah, and then lawyers, agents, managers and contracts get involved and it becomes a BUSINESS! Next thing you know, you're the musical equivalent of a candy bar with 100 people trying to get a smidge of the nougat... [Linked Image]

Davey O.
</font>


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#156890 - 09/09/05 02:22 AM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Minneapolis, MN, USA
Hi! I'm new to this board and I have a question related to the contest mentioned here in this thread. I've lurked here for a while, but didn't have an opportunity to post before now - and I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions you folks may have!

I'm considering entering the John Mayer songwriting contest and I've written the melody, chords - basically finished up the whole song - everything is written by me except (of course!) the lyrics. I am always very careful about never sending anything out "unprotected" - I always register everything with the Library of Congress beforehand - and I want to protect my music for this song contest entry as well.

In the past, I have written both the lyrics and music for my songs. I have no experience with collaborating as far as just the songwriting goes. How do I go about protecting the music I've written (and the performance) in a situation like this? (A case where potentially large numbers of people will be setting these exact same lyrics to music - and the lyric writer is a famous musician I've never met)

Any suggestions?

#156891 - 09/09/05 07:44 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Louis Offline
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Louis  Offline
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Home of the Crimson Tide
Hey this is fun, I almost got it. Having trouble singing "Masochistically" though. [Linked Image]


http://www.soundclick.com/louistwinn

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." Thoreau
#156892 - 09/09/05 09:02 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Graham Henderson (D) Offline
Graham Henderson (D)  Offline

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Esperance. West Australia
I think the word random is the key here folks.
The poster is saying the lyric is up for bends as well as wanting music.
Nothing wrong with that.
Looks like a bit of fun actually.
i think I have a piece in the mill that may suit this even.
Masochistically and all.
Oh the pain.
Yes.
Yes.
Graham

------------------
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/2/grahamhenderson_music.htm

#156893 - 09/10/05 12:46 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Louis Offline
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Louis  Offline
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Home of the Crimson Tide
I got my entry recorded, too bad I can't post it anywhere.. I'd probably get sued. lol..


http://www.soundclick.com/louistwinn

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." Thoreau
#156894 - 09/10/05 05:57 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Chris Maurer Offline
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Chris Maurer  Offline
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Miamisburg,Ohio,USA
I wrote some music for this song but I changed the words a little bit. I don't have a huge ego I think music is better if it is free to express itself without alot of BS about who is who and what is what. I can always use another Fender Guitar I love Fenders. I also think John Mayer is a hell of a songwriter. You don't win a grammy if you don't earn it.

#156895 - 09/10/05 07:22 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Jody Whitesides Offline
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Park City, UT, USA
French: I don't think you need to worry about copyrighting something like this. But if you decide you're going to use your actual melody and music elsewhere with other lyrics in the future, then you should copyright the music/melody without the lyrics. Then send in the entry with his words put into your creation. I think the reality is that I doubt John Mayer would need to rip you off.

*****

Chris: I think Milli Vanilli (sp?) comes to mind. I'm not saying that lots of people who win Grammy's and other types of awards didn't work hard, but there are always exceptions that happen that bring down the credibility of the process.

Jody

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www.jodywhitesides.com


Jody Whitesides
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#156896 - 09/10/05 09:07 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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applewormy Offline
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applewormy  Offline
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Posts: 27
Fountain Valley, CA
not tacky at all...just another opportunity...it would be great to be heard by a grammy winner. I'm sending off my second submission!

#156897 - 09/10/05 11:29 PM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
Joined: Sep 2005
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frenchpearl Offline
Casual Observer
frenchpearl  Offline
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Posts: 11
Minneapolis, MN, USA
Thanks for your advice Jody!

Hmmm yes I doubt John Mayer would need to rip me off... but you never know where a submission could end up - and I just make it a rule to protect everything I send out. Just being extra careful, I guess...

Anyway, it's not about ego, it's about being smart. There's even less chance that any of my other songs will be ripped off by anyone (that would put me in a whole different league) - but I still take the time to register everything with the Library of Congress. It's so easy and inexpensive - I think it's silly not to.

Either way, this contest sure was a fun creative exercise! I'll enjoy hearing what the winning song sounds like...

#156898 - 09/11/05 01:19 AM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Graham Henderson (D) Offline
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Esperance. West Australia
best of luck with this one Guys.
I got into it but by the time I had the bacing going nice and shuffled words to make it work, there wqas so litle of the original words there, I decided to just keep going and ended up doing it solo.
My instrumental doesn't ned words either now.
But then again, The words also sing quite well without the backing as well, so i think I'll leave them together.
Told you it looked like fun.
Graham

------------------
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/2/grahamhenderson_music.htm

#156899 - 12/25/05 02:50 AM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Ande Rasmussen Offline
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Ande Rasmussen  Offline
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Martindale, TX, USA
And the winner is:

http://www.esquire.com/features/articles/2005/051207_mfe_fagan.html


Tim Fagan Is A Winner

And so are the other 2,212 aspiring musicians who gave my orphaned lyrics a home

By John Mayer
January 2006, Volume 145, Issue 1

When I offered up some lyrics in this magazine a few months ago, I knew that for every submission Esquire would receive, there would be a story. Sure enough, when the entries started flowing in, they all sounded unique, yet they all shared a common inspiration. Every single person decided upon reading or hearing about the contest that this was something he or she was capable of doing. And 2,213 people proved themselves right.

For those of you who don't sleep next to songwriters, music is an all-consuming project, I promise you. The heart I heard in these songs made me feel instantly silly for having thought to place myself as any authority on songwriting. Then it occurred to me that I could help the winner of this contest get a leg up in his or her music career. And so I didn't feel so ashamed.

When I heard Tim Fagan's song, I yelled out loud at the speakers, pleading with him not to drop the ball on his way to a touchdown. He didn't. His song has a spare piano intro that's amazing in its economy. Tim's vocal performance is delivered with heart but not hurt. His composition is a string of events laid out so that there's always something else to look forward to, namely a nice blues-guitar solo at the end. It's a tight little number that took him two weeks to finish.

So Tim Fagan's my pick as the winner. He's just recently moved out to Los Angeles and rented a room, and he plays the area clubs when he's not working his part-time job. But there are 2,212 other winners as well, each of whom felt called to contribute in a personal way. They all hit that same "record" button and sang that same first lyric. And each of them conquered one of the most daunting places a songwriter can visit—the long line at the post office. Thank you all.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Q+A: Tim Fagan, Winner
ESQ: When John Mayer called you, you told him you were going to soil yourself.
TF: My head is still kind of spinning. I was sitting in my car on a lunch break eating Chinese takeout. I answered with a mouthful of rice and it's John Mayer on the phone. He started singing my song. It was bizarre. I sang along with my best moo-goo-gai-pan voice.
ESQ: On paper, those lyrics look tough to work into a song, don't they?
TF: Masochistically isn't a word that gets a lot of credit in songwriting. But its time is now.
ESQ: You have to choose one: "Daughters" or "Your Body Is a Wonderland"?
TF: I play a mean version of "Your Body Is a Wonderland." The funky part in the middle gets going nice and low.
ESQ: How long before we see the Fender guitar you won on eBay?
TF: EBay isn't in the picture on this one. This guitar's getting played the minute I get it.
ESQ: Unfortunately, winning the contest doesn't lift you out of poverty.
TF: One day it's Chinese and John Mayer. Today it's tacos and Esquire. If I stick to my fast-food regimen, I can stay afloat. I'm getting closer every day to an actual meal.
—Andy Langer

Put Those Hands Together

Here, Tim Fagan's winning recording and those of the five runners-up

The Grand Prize: Tim Fagan, Los Angeles

The Frank Zappa Award: Keith Rubin, Fort Lauderdale

Best Dorm-Room Duo: Brandon Paddock/Greg Perrine, Chicago

The Emmylou Harris Award: Liz Thurman, Nashville

The Smell the Glove Award: Chris Feener, Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland

Sexiest Import: Sonal D'Silva: Mumbai, India

from:

http://www.esquire.com/features/articles/2005/051207_mfe_fagan.html



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Ande Rasmussen
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#156900 - 12/26/05 04:13 AM Re: John Mayer's Songwriting Contest  
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Brian Austin Whitney Online content
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The top 3 were all pretty good. The bottom 3 not so much. As I said at the start, fun project.

Brian


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