“It’s a little bit of a circus trick”: John Mayer talks about Neon’s second life as a viral TikTok challenge

“I feel bad because I have thumbs like a mile long,” Mayer says of the technique he demonstrated

John Mayer

Credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty

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John Mayer’s guitar skills have become a trend on TikTok following the viral popularity of a video he posted on the video sharing platform about the techniques he used to play his 1999 hit Neon.

The singer talked about the video’s popularity during a show at the Los Angeles Forum on March 13 as he prepared to perform Neon for the assembled audience, saying, “Suddenly, this song now feels like a TikTok trick shot video challenge song and I feel kind of bad about it, because I wrote this song when I was playing alone in bookstores and cafés and stuff and wanted to get people’s attention.”

“It’s a little cynical in the sense that it’s like, a little bit of circus trick.”

Watch Mayer’s performance of Neon at the Los Angeles Forum below.

The “circus trick” in question is rooted in the technique he demonstrated in the now-viral video, where he used his index finger and thumb. The technique has proven difficult to impossible for some viewers, as Mayer himself admits onstage, “I feel bad because I have thumbs like a mile long. You know, like, the kid in school who could turn his eyelids inside out? That’s sort of what this is. It’s this one freak thing that I can do.”

TikTok users have taken to the video to both praise Mayer’s guitar skills and to comment on the difficulty of the ‘tutorial’, with one user writing “Very inspiring. It inspires me to sell my guitar”, followed by a laughing emoji. Another commented, “Spoiler alert. Even with explanation, my thumb and index finger didn’t act right,” emphasising the technique Mayer used wasn’t accessible to all guitarists.

Several users have since taken to the platform to demonstrate their ability to play the song, however, so practice may indeed make perfect in the end.

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