Papa John Mays

Papa John Mays


Papa plays with a tight, percussive, syncopated acoustic guitar style. Through a mixture of story and commentary, his songs explore themes of social justice, community, and honesty in relationships. But even though the themes are serious, the songs are laced with humor and ironic twists.


Papa John Mays is a singer/songwriter based in Austin, Texas, performing in the solo acoustic folk guitar tradition. Papa’s songs exhibit careful craftsmanship in lyric, melody and rhythm. His acoustic guitar style is percussive and syncopated and his culturally insightful lyrics often have a whimsical edge. One listener said, “After hearing your songs I think you would be a very interesting person to sit down and talk to.”
In songs like Long Long Journey and One Little Look Papa sings in a subtle and understated idiom that promotes social justice through commentary on the ways contemporary culture tends to marginalize those who are most in need. Sometimes, as in What are You Talking About? and Everyone’s a Hustler Now, the social message is loud and clear, and comes with a bit of humor to soften the blow. Some of his songs, like Lonely Roads, Minor Encounter, and Doggies and Tattoos are introspections on the complexities of human relationships and the value of community in the modern world. Other tunes, like Today’s the Day, Hold Fast, and So Beautiful, are just simple songs with great hooks about the wonderful opportunities and beauties we find all around us when we stop and look.
As writer and performer of original material, Papa draws on his mature experience as a husband, parent, teacher and global traveler to create songs that reach into our interior world of community, politics, relationships, culture and faith. Papa describes himself as a seeker of truth, devoted to learning a consistent way of life, a life that is honest, just, and compassionate. Papa’s songs urge us to value other people, and our lives together with other people, above the fleeting satisfactions of money or possessions.
Papa’s early influences include 1970s greats such as James Taylor, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and Leo Kottke. In recent years he has come under the spell of Eliza Gilkyson and Patty Griffin, songwriters whose work he deeply admires.
Papa is in the early stages of planning for his first CD, which he intends to record during summer 2009.


One Little Look

Written By: John Mays

One Little look, that's all she gave him
One little look, that's all it took
One little look and kept on walking
One little look, right by the book.

One little look
One little look, 'cause he's invisible
One little look
One little look, 'cause he's invisible

One little lie, that's what she told him
One little lie to get him by
One little lie, it didn't matter
One little lie, it made him cry

One little look
One little look, 'cause he's invisible
One little look
One little look, 'cause he's invisible

In his humanity he sees her go
He longs for common courtesy
But will she ever know

One little smile that's all he needed
One little smile could last a while
One little smile to feed his hunger
For one little smile he'd walk a mile.

One little look
One little look, 'cause he's invisible
One little look
One little look, 'cause he's invisible


CD project begins summer 2009

Set List

Set 1 (60 minutes)
Today's the Day
Everyone's a Hustler Now
World Class Delusion
Doggies and Tattoos
What Are You Talking About?
Predator (Count Me Out)
It's Not Just the Economy
One Little Look
Lonely Roads
Movie Review Man
Long, Long Journey

Set 2 (60 minutes)
So Beautiful
Say Goodnight
Minor Encounter
Shouldn't Justice be the Greatest Thing?
Drained But Not Empty
Girl in Baghdad
What You Told Me
What Are We Here For?
You Took My Breath Away