Connecticut, John Mayer charmed his listeners with his poignant lyrics, sweet melodies, and mellow grooves. Since the release of his successful debut album, Room for Squares, his clever songwriting has grown Into breathtaking poetry. He demonstrated his ever evolving progress with the release of his fourth studio album, Continuum, in 2006. The album takes maturity as a theme throughout, with songs ranging from the politically charged “Waiting for the World to Change” to the heartbreaking and sultry sound of “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room. Stop This Train,” also a song from John Mayor’s Continuum, speaks of the unpredictable ground between adolescence and adulthood. It was written during a time which Mayer referred to as “solitary refinement;” He lied In bed suffering from double kidney stones and living in a hotel while finding a new residence. In a state of uncertainty and seemingly hopeless venture, John Mayer wrote the song for those of us straddling the new world, trying to figure out not necessarily who we are, but how to be who we are.
He knew that, despite their lack of familiarity with his personal tuition, any person who listened to the lyric of the song could relate to life’s daunting train ride. In the song, the train ride acts as an extended metaphor for the onward rush of life, which carries us forward and takes us past people and things we wish to linger with. Meyers lyrics echo the feelings of so many young adults who are contemplating their future-?starting to build a new life, leaving old ones behind, losing loved ones, and becoming their own person. In the first stanza, Mayer introduces his perplexed state of mind with his struggle to face truth.
He begins his Eng with Irony, “No I’m not coloration / I know the world Is black and white” (1-2), claiming that he possesses the ability to see the true colors of the world. The colors black and white represent the speaker’s belief that the world is simply one way or another. The word ‘blind’ and the speaker’s ability to see create an oxymoron because of their contradicting natures. In lines 3-4, “Try to keep an open mind but… I Just can’t sleep on this tonight,” Mayer expresses his troubles that make him restless. The song also symbolizes a reminder of life’s Inevitability.
It streams forward like a train, ND never can you go back to a certain point In time because there’s no getting off, no changing direction, no stopping. Mayer creates a mental picture of the careening train ride in lines 5-8, “Stop this train / I want to get off and go home again / I can’t take the speed that it’s moving in. ” The use of imagery demonstrates Meyers understanding of what his audience experiences. In attempt to fully transport the listener to the scene, the song begins with a catchy up and down melody that simulates a feeling of a trait’s wheels turning over and over again.
The snares played wrought “Stop This Train” match the rhythmic sound of a train so as to allow the audience to picture themselves also on this never ending journey. The high and low notes of the guitar may also signify life’s ups and downs. By using the train as a metaphor, Mayer mirrored the rush of nostalgia as people live their lives day by day and suddenly decide to take a look back at how far they’ve come. Just like a train ride, one doesn’t realize how far and fast their Journey has taken them until they stop to take a look around. In life, everyone fears death or loss.
As adulthood looms, so does ten mortar y AT our parents Mayer vocalizes tans Tear, “Don’t want to see my parents go’ (9). And while no one ever does, the time we become adults ourselves is when we begin to see the age in those that have shaped our lives. We see the death of our grandparents and realize we are a “generation away from fighting life out on my own” (10-11). And we panic because our parents, for so many of us, have been the safety net into which we fall. We begin to realize that safety net will not always be there. In truth, we are afraid of what we don’t know, which is why Mayer claims “I’m only good at being young” (17).
The thought of adulthood can be overwhelming as we realize that there’s no stop button, that no one can stop this train. In the stanza about the conversation with his father, Mayer learns the best way to experience life is by not changing it. His father advises, “Don’t for a minute change the place you’re in / Don’t think I couldn’t ever understand… John, honestly we’ll never stop this train” (23-26) The only thing we can really do is appreciate life’s train ride; because wherever it may take us, we’re all in it together. The lyric in “Stop This Train” somewhat reflects life’s timeline.
At a younger, more naive age we take for granted our family until we start aging and realizing that our time with them is, in fact, limited. In the song, Mayer goes from begging for someone to stop this train to accepting that he can’t so he might as well enjoy the ride. The song is about being forced to let go of things, and accepting these losses. It’s about the angst and unfamiliarity that comes with moving into unknown parts of life. The fact that no matter what, we can’t stop a day from turning into a week or a year from into turning into a decade, and the thought of this can seem a little intimidating and disheartening.
As humans we only know what we’ve experienced, and the idea of having to readjust and move forward without any regard for personal desire can be downright terrifying. Growing up, children aren’t inclined to to miss a thing because they haven’t experienced the state of apprehension when they’re asked the inevitable question: What do you want to do with your life? “Once in a while when it’s good / It’ll feel lie it should / And they’re all still around / And you’re still safe and sound” (27-31). But as time progresses, the days when we were lulled into a false calm are gone and we realize we don’t miss what we have till it’s gone.
And you don’t miss a thing / till you cry when you’re driving away in the dark” (32-33). Mayor’s style of songwriting mirrors a sort of conversation he is having with himself, his family and friends, and also with his own time. Just as the songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart, Mayor’s songs are Just as full of importance as the music and beats to which they are set. Many people listen to songs for their uplifting melodies and dance-inspiring beats, but the deeper words in the lyrics prove that what’s in a song is equally important to what’s not there.
In “Stop This Train,” Mayer oratory himself as Just another person coping with the apprehension and fear of loved ones dying, growing old, and facing life and all its difficulties. His fame and talent may veil the sorrows he faces on a daily basis from being away from his loved ones. The hidden message behind “Stop This Train” could embody a more personal than empathetic message. The harsh truth remains that, no matter how memorable or eventful our lives are, no one can escape time. Whether or not we’ll grow to be 68, we will all be forced to brave more responsibility, expectations, and independence as we mature.

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