John Mayer, singer-songwriter and somewhat of a philosopher, released his album The Search For Everything in April of 2017. On it were several incredible songs, full of thoughtful lyrics and savory melodies as he adapted to a new sound.

Track 5 on the album however, is what I would like to write about, titled In the Blood. It is by far my favorite piece on the album, and when he played it in concert, I quite literally jumped out of my seat. It’s easy enough to sing along to it, but the magic goes far beyond just that.

The song is almost entirely made up with rhetorical questions, leaving the listener with a great deal to ponder. With each question as powerful as the next, Mayer explores the inevitability of the influences our families have on us.

He opens,

“How much of my mother has my mother left in me?”

The next stanza,

“How much of my father am I destined to become?”

And then later,

“How much like my brothers, do my brothers wanna be?”

Personally, I love that my mom taught me how to care for other people. And that my father challenged me to think deeply and passionately. But I also know that we aren’t always that lucky. That’s exactly what Mayer is hinting at in this incredibly personal song when he begs the question:

“Will it wash out in the water, or is it always in the blood?”  

Is it inevitable that we become like the people before us? Both in the good and the bad? Will the way we act, speak, and feel always be more reflective of our families? Or will it be reflective of ourselves?

Honestly, I don’t know how much of the nature versus nurture argument can be factored in to the shaping of our own personalities. At the end of the day, though, I believe we are our own choices. Yes, we can continue down the path of those before us, be that good or bad. But if it is in fact, bad, we can choose to be different. Our families’ influence doesn’t have to define us.

Picture credits: