Welcome to the John Mayer Song Origins Wiki!


This wiki was set up to collect and organize the origin stories of John Mayer's songs.

Please only post song origin stories that you are completely sure they are true and direct from the source (John Mayer, himself).

Songs should be sorted by Album. If you are unsure what album the song is from, or aren't sure if it was released or not, please put it under the nnnnelse will know and put it in the correct section.


Note: Some songs were released on multiple albums. We are talking about origins, so it makes sense to put the story under the album that was released first, but since some people might associate a song with the later album (example: No Such Thing was released on Inside Wants Out and Room For Squares, many people may associate it with Room For Squares) it also makes sense to post it under both albums. It is up to you.

Please also give yourself some sort of credit, name, nickname, something to identify who wrote the information. That helps show who did what so people can appreciate your contribution and makes it easier in case of any problems that may arise. Thanks.



Inside Wants Out


Back To You-



No Such Thing-

he got the melody for no such thing in his head while he was in the bathroom at work and he had to keep humming it all day to keep himself from forgetting it. he played the song for his mom in april 1999, right after columbine, and she said something like "i don't think it's a good climate to be singing about running through the halls of your high school." he said his mom was an "ever-caring and cautious lady."
(added by Jocelyn)

My Stupid Mouth-



Neon-



Victoria-

victoria was written about this girl in his dorm. this is a synopsis of the story he told on 09.16.00, but i've listened to my tape many times, so much of it is close to an exact quote. Tory would always walk around with this girl Jana and they were very symbiotic like the alligator and the crocodile -- you always saw them together, they were never apart. and one night, Tory came by the room alone at 2 am. looking for Jana. John and Matt [Mangano] were night cats so they were up and john was ironing his shirts. as Jana wasn't there, she started to leave and John insisted that she stay. she ended up ironing his shirts for him. later on that night, Matt was having an IM fight with his girlfriend in california, and John could hear him angrily tapping away at the keys. John was in bed, playing himself to sleep, and Matt said, "don't know why Tory came by tonight." so john played those chords and sang "don't know why tori came by" the way you hear it on IWO. they both went "whoa!" and john sang into the tape recorder the following lyrics:

i don't know why Tory came by
but i could see by the look in her eye
tori'd been wanderin' 'round the halls for a while
looking for an open door to stand in front of

don't know why, but Tory just smiled
and she came in and she ironed my clothes
and i could swear
i could see through her shirt
at the nipple rings

and he said to us that after that, you obviously can't write anything more with those lyrics, but Matt encouraged him to finish it, so "the whole song is fiction. i'm sorry. this is probably ruining the vibe for a lot of you." and he didn't like the idea of calling the song Tory so he named it Victoria instead.

The Victoria from John's dorm is Victoria Vox, who went through Berklee - http://www.victoriavox.com

Love Soon-



This song goes out to a lady that I met on AOL one time. I used to be a real pig and back in the heyday of AOL when there were actually some curious, normal users out there, I looked up in the member directory--g-d, I'm such a cornball--"female, Fairfield County, Connecticut." That's where I lived at the time, and I just felt like if I was going to start being witty with people, and g-d bless the delete key 'cause you can be anything you wanna be. I wish I could proofread what I say in real life - that would be just grand.

And I think I started out some kind of phrase like, some pickup line like, "Hey, I see in your profile that you like bedpans," and she didn't. But, guys, I think I figured out the secret to getting a girl's attention-but I can't promise what happens after that attention-but you gotta be aware of what's kinda been done a lot-and know what's corny, be wacky if you have to, but just don't be corny.

Am I right ladies at all?

[whispered] I have a vagina, too.

So anyway, we met. We started talking, hanging out. She was a dental hygienist. She taught me that I should floss before I brush, not brush before I floss, just because it sounds better in that order. She gave me free toothbrushes all the time, which saved me, I don't know, 12 bucks a year. And she was 24 and I was 19, and I really, really, really wanted it to work 'cause I thought this lady was cool. We started hanging out all the time, it was like scenes from a movie. It was great. I guess she started feeling pressure from her friends in cubicles at work- although she's a dental hygienist, so she doesn't have a cubicle.
Anyway, so we hung out, we did all this stuff and kissing and stuff. And I'm like, "Am I your boyfriend?" She was like, "No, you're really not my boyfriend," and told me that all the time. I was like, "You pretty much seem like my girlfriend." And she was like, "Shhh. Now let's not talk about that." It's kinda like I had this job requirement - how many people do the work of the manager but they don't actually have the manager badge and get paid? It's like "I know I'm the manager-I know I run this place!"
And that's what happened. I was like - we've got everything, we've got everything it takes. We are boyfriend and girlfriend, you just don't wanna admit it. And then she was house sitting one night and she wanted to sleep with me. And I kicked myself for a little while after that, but I'm really happy that I said this to her. I said, "I just want you to know that if we do that, which I have no objection to doing, we are boyfriend and girlfriend-there's no going back after that."
So I went over to her place, and I started making out with her, and I looked up and she was watching the TV. I know that was some sort of defense mechanism for her - I know she really didn't want to see what was on TV. I took it kind of hard. She sat there and got up and she went "you can't really give me what I need." And I said "what is that?" and she was like, "you're just not the one for me."

I just wanted to tell her about what it's like to be in the moment with someone and be in such denial about it. It's, it's bullshit. So I wrote this song called Love Soon.
(added by Jocelyn)


Comfortable-

the music for comfortable was partially, if not fully, written when john was in high school. he liked this girl and he told her he'd write her a song and it would be like her lullaby, and that when it was done, he would go over to her house and play it for her. but then she turned evil. some of the original lyrics went:

this bed is an ocean
this blanket the waves
the pillow an island to rest all your nights away
(added by Jocelyn)

Neon (12:47 AM)-



Quiet-




Room For Squares



No Such Thing-



Why Georgia-

I've heard the story multiple times. John said he was slotted to play at a Borders bookstore in Atlanta, where they were either going to pay him $50 cash or with a $100 giftcard. He said he took the cash. He was driving up 285 in Atlanta, sailing along, looking at the backed-up traffic on the other side of the interstate thinking how grateful he was that he was not going that way. He then realized that he'd forgotten his guitar and was going to have to turn around and be part of the traffic he was just mentally making fun of. He ended up going to get Shawn Mullins' guitar from him and sang, "I was in traffic on 285 and I forgot my guitar and I am sorry" explaining to the crowd why he was so late. I know he told the story in the intro to the 8/29/08 Atlanta show and I heard the more extended version somewhere, but can't recall right now- in that one, he said he wrote "I was driving up 285 and I forgot my guitar and had to go back home" (or something like that). If I find the other show, I'll update more! (added by Kristy)


My Stupid Mouth-



Your Body Is A Wonderland-

wonderland was written in early 2000 when john and david labruyere were living together. he wrote it in the bathroom because "i hear you can get some privacy in there." he said that when he first played it without a bass line for david, it sounded so corny and more like "[sings] and love you and hold you and kiss you" (for lack of song title, it was in my best friend's wedding - very cheesy, unsexy song), and it "didn't sound like 'let's make out.' it sounded more like 'let's hang out and talk.'" but with the beat, it sounds "all slinky and sexy."

i personally think that him sitting on the bathtub in the video for this song is a little nod to its origins. also, per the messages from john, this song was voted by fans to be the "new" song he posted on his mp3.com site in the summer of 2000.
(added by Jocelyn)

Neon-



City Love-

This song is about John's idea of what falling in love in New York City might feel like. Lydia is the name of Room For Squares producer John Alagia's girlfriend at the time. -Elliot

From "This Will All Make Perfect Sense Someday" Documentary
John: "By the way, you know, people don't really like... [change of thought?] The few people that I've talked to about City Love, they're like 'How do you feel about it, seem to think the name Lydia is... [change of thought, again?] Ok, people think that it's kinda copping out. [Cut to Monologue] The thing that I was struggling with was that it was so specific to a woman named Lydia, who was John's girlfriend at the time. And that song is really all about what it's like to be in New York City and be subject to this kind of beautiful corruption of a woman... not that that existed. And the struggle was, well, do I wanna mention specifically the woman. [Back to the room with both Johns] This arguement, uh, when you say [sings and strums] City Love, uh you know, High as the sky above, and I can't remember life before her name. [back to conversation with Alagia] 'Her' is a lot more artistic. First of all, like you know it's a woman, OR you kind of just get the whole, sort of like city thing [Alagia agreeing and saying the same thing] [Back to Monologue] And I remember flip-flopping, but I think the pheonetics won out over anything else. That's just the way it sounded, you know?"

83-

This is the story that John told June 1st, 2007 at Clark County, Washington, right before he played 83. It was the first time that he played this song in a very long time.

"I wrote this song when I was sitting on the floor somewhere in Georgia. I was playing around on my guitar. This song is about when you're right in the middle...getting old is like getting on a boat and leaving the harbor you know, and it's like cool, I see where I'm at, cool I know where I am, I was there, now I'm here. But at a certain age it's just all water everywhere 'cause you haven't reached your destination and you're still so far way from where you left. I just remember feeling stranded and writing this song, and wanting to go back in time to 1983"

(added by Livvy King)

3x5-



Love Song For No One-



Back To You-



Great Indoors-



Not Myself-



St. Patrick's Day-


Any Given Thursday


(someone please add all tracks later [that aren't also on other albums])
man on the side was also written for a girl that became a bitch and of her, he said "i'm never gonna tell you this, but i'm gonna write a song about you and i'm going to make money off the song and use that money to buy myself a car and drive by your house and honk the horn at night."
(added by Jocelyn)

Heavier Things



Clarity-

From John's show in Chula Vista, CA on June 12, 2007:
"This is a song about waking up feeling beautiful, before you remember all the things there are to hate. There's that moment you wake up in the morning where you're like [high voice] 'Hey! Today's gonna [normal voice] ohhhhhhhhh crap.' But right in that [high voice] 'Hey! Today's gonna' [normal voice] if you could stretch that out for the rest of your life, this is what this song is about." -Evan

Bigger Than My Body-

After coming home from a Coldplay concert that blew him away, he started thinking about music that was so good that it just made him feel huge, or "bigger than his body." He thought of the way Pearl Jam made him feel when he was in high school and how the Coldplay concert made him feel. He then proceeded to start writing Bigger Than My Body. The pre-chorus came first as effortlessly as one can imagine which scared him as he thought that it couldn't be that easy. He started thinking that something bad was going to happen because something that good shouldn't have come so easily. And that's a bit about where Bigger Than My Body came from. -Elliot

Something's Missing-



New Deep-



Come Back To Bed-



Home Life-



Split Screen Sadness-



Daughters-



Only Heart-



Wheel-




Try!



Who Did You Think I Was-

(This is from John's clinic at Berklee in 2008) More so an explanation behind Try! but it works too with this song
"I had gotten to a point in my career where I felt like I was about to get pigeon-holed and I'll tell you the story and I don't know how many people know this intimately but they wanna make..I wanted! Here's where the public is smarter than you. I wanted a song called Come Back To Bed. I thought it was gonna be huge. I thought it was gonna change people's minds about stuff. No, I'm gonna MAKE YOU like stuff you don't like because it's good enough... Eh I don't know about that. The song didn't work and I was disheartened and then they said "What about Daughters? Could you put Daughters out?". Now I had thought, again the public is smarter than me, that it was just this little song that lives on the record. That's like track eight, track nine. It's the one you discover three months and you say "Oh this is here." And they said no, they've researched this and they really want it to go and be a hit. I was like (whispers) "I don't want it to be a hit." I would rather not have this as a hit because it will peg me forever as "sensitive songwriter guy". And I gave myself a sort of three strikes and you're out rule and I thought Daughters would've been somewhat of the third strike. The worst thing I could have ever thought of was being the artist where the record company goes "Look, you give us the three we want and you know we want, you can do whatever you wanna do." John goes on to tell how he calls the President of Sony saying not to release the song but somehow the song leaks. "Something else was at stake which was my identity. It was another moment where the public didn't know who I was" He decided to shift his musical direction and form a trio. "It's because of that tour and because of that exploration I was able to bring the guitar side and the writing side and put them together the best I've done so far and this is that song sort of.. Think of it like they're here except everything else is on mute." (added by Gee)


Good Love Is On The Way-



Gravity-



Vultures-



Another Kind Of Green-



Try-




Continuum



Waiting On The World To Change-



I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)-

"I had started working on this really kinda sexy tune, and I had some flashbacks of Wonderland and what that all meant and did, and kind of already did that. And so, I decided that I would write a song, lyrically, that was the exact opposite of saying how bad I was, and actually started literally talking about how bad I was. It actually turned out to be sexy. Sorry guys." [added by Sam Garcia]

Belief-

"It's a really tricky one. I didn't think it was gonna be on the record. But, really really really fought. I don't think there was a harder fought song that I've ever put on a record before. It's a really tricky topic. You know, you write a song called Belief, and you'd better be careful. But it took me a long time to choose my words correctly, unlike the rest of my life." [added by Sam Garcia]

Gravity-

"It was actually written for [Continuum], and then put together, the Trio back last summer time, actually, we started thinking about the Trio..." [added by Sam Garcia]

also

[Banter in the middle of a live version from Red Rocks Amphitheatre on 6/15/07]
"I wanna tell you something that I learned in my life...I wanna tell you about this idea that had been in my head for such a long time, and I know because of the law of averages lives in sombody's mind, more than a hundred people here. And that is the idea that life is 50-50. As soon as you get going good, you gotta brace yourself because something bad's gonna come around. Right? [Crowd cheers] There's the hundred people...But look, that's not true. So when you start doing inventory and you go 'Wow, things are pretty good...ughh...oh boy.' and you start going like this, it doens't have to be like that. It's just good, and it can stay good for a really long time, and you may die at a hundred twenty--every single person here is like 'I'm dying at 35!' but that's just a defense mechanism so that when you get to 60, you're like 'Hey bonus time!' Don't do that. It can be good, look around you. This is the most beautiful night in the world. It can be good." [added by Sam Garcia]

also

"Gravity is one of the most important songs I've ever written, and it's an experiment for me in not explaining everything in a song. And that keeps it open for me, so I can address whatever I'm thinking about at any day that I'm playing Gravity, and I can really sing to it. Because, no matter what happens in your life, gravity, the tune, is kind of a really universal theme them about not falling from whatever rung of grace you're on at the moment. Not losing the happiness, not losing the success, you know. The temptation, the darkness, all that stuff. That's just the human struggle, you know." [added by Sam Garcia]


The Heart Of Life-

"No matter what you're going through, this one is for you."

also

[Banter before playing the song at Madison Square Garden on 2/28/07]
"This is a song I wrote...It's very interesting when people pass, you know, it's an interesting thing when you just watch time do it's thing. It's not tragic. When passing isn't tragic, it's just the wheel just going and going. I was driving home one night, and was thinking to myself...I wonder if it's all worth it, you know? I know that's a heavy thought, but I wonder if at the end of it, when you have your little golf score card, and you have little pencil marks on each little square, like how does it all come out, you know? And is the bitch of it all that is just comes out plain even? Is that just the worst thing about it? For everything that sucks in life, is there one other thing that helps recover it? And, uh, that's probably the case."

These were the original lyrics, but they eventually evolved and changed into the version we hear today:

First thing you feel in your life is the edge of a surgical blade
The last thing that runs through your mind is the plans that you made
First time you fall in love, you fall so hard you spend your whole life digging out
The last time you look in her eyes, you will know, know what it's all about
Cause I know the heart of life is good
Even though part of life don't go the way it should


also

[Speaking about the song on 4/10/06 at the Hotel Cafe]
"I kinda had this melody come up, and I had this idea for a long time for a song called The Heart of Life. Something very interesting about death in the natural cause kind of way, when somebody dies, like the slow fade out. Like literally, like a leaf in the water. It's kind of beauitful in a way, because it's just like a leaf curling up or anything in nature that just kind of loses it's life, and kind of turns in. And I was witnessing it a couple years ago, and it was just beautiful, and compelling and strange, and I remember I didn't blink for a long time. I was just like, I wonder if at the end of the game do you go like 'Yeah, I'm glad I did that. That was actually kind of fun.' or at the end of the game do you go like 'You know what? I just remember being cold a lot.' Like, what do you take with you? But maybe more likely, it just completely balances out. They give you a pad and pen, and you go figure it out, and you come back and you're like 'Everytime I come up with one for the left column, I come up with one for the right column.' And so this idea, of, um, I know the heart of life is good. I was sitting around for awhile, and I was lucky enough to have my hands on the guitar when this idea came along. And it's called The Heart of Life." [added by Sam Garcia]

Vultures-



Stop This Train-

"It has the most information I've ever put in a song. I needed to. It's a song about my parents. It's a song about getting older...a song about watching your parents get older, and not wanting it to happen. And as it's happening, staring at them and saying 'Don't you dare leave me...don't you dare leave me.' You know? It's kind of about that. [Musically, it's] sweet sad...I don't like dark sad. I like chin-up sad. The saddest kind of sad, is the sad that tries not to be sad. When sad tries to bite it's lip and not cry, and smile and go 'No, I'm happy for you,' that's when it's really sad."

also

"This is a song that...uh...I have no idea how I'm gonna play this live, because it's definitely the most kind of, um, emotionally confrontational song for me. And uh, you know, time is moving forward all the time, and we know that, but uh...It's kind of like running out of a continually burning hallway and you can't go back and get your stuff. And all I wanna do is yell 'I wanna go get my stuff!' People are going 'You can't, keep running!' This fireball's coming up behind you. It's not exactly as Indiana Jones as that, but it feels like that sometimes. This is a song begging to go back..."

Slow Dancing In A Burning Room-

"This is a song about that part of the relationship when you know its over, and you have your final bow together...its about the end of the relationship, kinda like watching it all burn down infront of you and making it a beautiful thing" - Chris Hahn

Dreaming With A Broken Heart-

this is a song I wrote one rainy morning in the far back corner in the studio..really came out of nowhere. It's about when things go wrong with somebody, but you meet him in your dreams and they're still alright, and the moment you wake up and go "oh yeah..they hate me" - Chris Hahn

also

Bonner Springs, 6/19/07
This song is about dreaming of somebody and when you wake up the next morning and see them, you go "I had this dream about you last night...only you were nice." - Meggan

In Repair-

"This is a song about being fucked up but coming out of it. When you're a kid and you get a tennis ball to the nuts, it's one of the worst feelings in the world. But as all men will tell you, there's no better feeling then when it stops hurting." [added by Sam Garcia]

also

John, Steve Jordan, and Charlie Hunter walked into Avatar studios one day, and slowly began work on a new tune. The song really came out of nowhere, as John began to mess with different combinations of pedals. Eventually, he got the guitar to sound similar to an organ, and started playing the chords to what would become In Repair. Steve played on top of it, and Charlie improvised an 8-string guitar part over it. They all liked the sound, so John got to work on the lyrics. The lyrics went through a few changes to get to the finalized version. (This information comes directly from the In Repair video from iTunes.) [added by Sam Garcia]

I'm Gonna Find Another You-




Unreleased


Man on the Side-

"I met this girl, and this was the first girl I ever met that exposed this thing that some girls do where they just collect boys.I didn't know that some girls just collect boys. It would actually signal the becoming pattern of me being the man on the side. You know, a woman will convince herself that even though she has a boyfriend this is not boyfriend...this new guy is not her boyfriend...you guys don't wait, you guys wait til the very last minute to go like 'Oh, maybe I can't do this.' But for me, I'm all into this thinking like 'I'm so good. I'm blowing this other guy out of the water.' That never happens. And that's where Man on the Side comes from." (added by Albert Marshall)

The Hurt-



Tracing-

This song is about "snaky" people who don't know how to slow down and enjoy the fact that they had a nice date and don't need to start planning a marriage now more or less. Somebody should copy the quote from the As/Is version. -Elliot

From As/Is live recording released in 2004: "This is about when you're just meeting somebody, and you're in your certain role of the relationship, "Hey, I'm just meeting you," and the other person's like a vampire. They kind of burrow their way into you, and you're like 'what's going on?' They just move too fast for you, and they're really snaky. And the next thing you know, they're like, 'I feel so comfortable with you,' and it's like, 'in 14 minutes? Shit.' So this is for all those people just can't slow down and accept that you've just known someone for a week, and it's a good week, and it'll be a month, and then a year, and just take your damn time please. It's called 'Tracing.'" -Dave


Why Did You Mess With Forever-



Tell Me What To Say-

"The retarded version of My Stupid Mouth." -Elliot


This Will All Make Perfect Sense Someday-

Struggling early on as an artist with bills to pay and no money to pay them and plenty of other typical life issues, he used to tell himself that "this will all make perfect sense someday..." -Elliot


Lifelines-

"First experience with, um, time passing...Didn't know it passed at all until I was just about to leave for Berklee. My mom started looking through these pictures, I guess she must have found this box, this stor-all box full of photos. It was the first time I'd ever seen photos of myself as a kid, since I was a kid. And, my older brother Carl was sleeping on the couch, and I was just staring at him going 'Damn, there's my brother.' Again, that would have set the precedent also for many times of staring at somebody and going 'There you are!' It's true, you know, you do it, you grab people with your eyes like 'No..no...' This is my first experience, it's kind of like the prototype to 83 in a way. I didn't get the idea out well enough, cause this song's just not very good...but I'll play it for you anyway." (added by Albert Marshall)


Can't Take That Plane-



Hummingbird-



Distance-



Everything Is Not Broken-

Written in response to 9/11. Was more or less replaced by Covered In Rain thematically. -Elliot


Over and Over-

He had been messing around with the guitar part, and had envisioned a tune similiar to the doo-wop songs of the 50's. He had absolutely no lyrics for the song, but decided he would play the part at Housing Works in November '04. He made up some lyrics on the spot, including the line "Guess who desperately wants you over and over?" The next and only other time the song was heard was on an interview for TimesTalks on iTunes. Since first hearing it at Housing Works, the lyrics had been much more fleshed out, and the guitar part had been changed slightly. A bridge was also added, and John said he envisioned a big guitar solo towards the end. Basically, an "out of nowhere" kind of song. [added by Sam Garcia]

Sucker-

John apparently doesn't like this song very much. -Elliot


L.A. Song (In Your Atmosphere)-

Written after a failed relationship taking place largely in L.A. I'll skip the obvious. -Elliot


George's Blues-

Written for sport more or less. I believe he was challenged by Matt Mangano to write a song that used the word "orange" as a rhyme. This is a harder feat than most would imagine. -Elliot

Actually It was an assignment from Berklee..a song that used orange in a rhyme. Debbie


Outside in the Underground-

Written the day he submitted his drop papers from Berklee College of music. -Elliot

Heart So Heavy-

It was written just after Hurricane Katrina. It premiered at the opening night of the trio tour, 9/6/2005. -Amanda

BATTLE STUDIES (edited by reason141.tumblr.com)


Heartbreak Warfare is about the moment where being nice doesn’t work anymore, or you don’t think being nice works anymore. The moment where you get what you want out of jealousy and anger, and inciting that in somebody else to make sure they’re still with you. And it was a phrase I came up in my head, the language of ‘hurt’. Some people just speak hurt. That sort of what happens when that turns, the relationship turns and it gets ugly.
All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye is brutal for me, it’s the only word for it. It’s just—it’s probably the most brutal song I’ve written in terms of the emotional quality, like when I hear it I just go [exhales deeply]. It’s sort of like tired and helpless. Like ‘Why? Why-why do I have to do this, you know I’m gonna, but why?’ Beautifully destroyed, it’s like this beautiful explosion.
Half of My Heart is my I wish I was born in the 70’s, living in Laural Canyon in L.A. This is the song I would’ve written. And it’s also about the complexity of—where I think a lot of people are in their life right now, where they’re trying to figure out how much room they even have to give to another person. We live in a world now where the room we have to give to other people is getting smaller and smaller, because we’re so much in the role now of giving to ourselves in tiny little clips. Tiny little three minute clips of ‘Oh, I think I’ll lay down a Scrabble word with my friend over ness part of the country, and then I’ll just zip over to Twitter and hit a few people up on Twitter, and then I’ll see what people are doing tonight’. But it’s—it’s almost getting frightfully sort of like an antiquated idea that there would be somebody that would be like ‘OK, so you’re the only one app I have right now? It’s like you dot app, you’re the app, right? So I can’t have two apps? You’re the only programme that this’ll run—I’ll get back to you.’ And “Half of My Heart” is sort of that, the self study of like you know, not being sure and being of split mind, going like ‘I wanna run, I wanna run, I’m running!’. You know? And it’s pretty honest saying ‘I was made to believe I’d never love somebody else, made a plan to stay the man who could only love himself’. That’s pretty—pretty much how I feel. That’s not putting how I feel into a certain—the language of a song. That’s pretty much how it feels.
Who Says was written very quickly, and it’s from a different lobe of the brain than the rest of Battle Studies, except it’s really important for me. People go ‘Well who says you can’t anyway?’ And it’s like ‘Well, me.’ After a while in my shoes you start to begin to take the whip and start hitting yourself with it. Going like ‘Well let me make this easier on you, and I’ll just start whipping myself’. It was me pushing back, put it that way. It was me pushing back, in a way that I really had to. For myself. Push back and went ‘What’s the big deal everybody?’
Perfectly Lonely is a song about that moment where you reason with yourself and rationalize with yourself that you didn’t need anybody anyway. So in the middle of this record comes this idea that well, maybe the idea of loving someone else isn’t—isn’t even that good an idea? Of course it is, but everyone has felt at a certain point like ‘You know what, I’m rockin’ right now! I don’t need anything.’ Of course you do, but you know, that’s sort of what that is. It’s a three and a half minute lie, which I love. I love those songs.
Assassin is a story and it’s like a movie, it’s like a screenplay in a song, you know. About a guy who is sort of a killer but he gets taken out because he wasn’t as sharp as the mark. So, but it’s again inside of the love motif. I always like to write an “Assassin” after knowing that I have a record of tight little numbers that can be played in cars. So I feel like I earn the right with the eleven or ten other songs that are structured in a real sort of classic song structure—I feel like I get one every record, “Belief” on Continuum is sort of the song where you go ‘You know what? I’ve proven—I’ve given enough of the ones where I go ‘And chorus, and verse and B-section and chorus’. That I had fun sort of moving the chorus til after two minutes, and really taking time with it.
Crossroads is a cover song, obviously. But there is sort of a new quality to it. Sort of like the hip-hop-D’Angelo-spaced out “Crossroads”. And it really came out of Steve Jordan and I being in the studio and I had plugged this pedal up, and it just had this great distorted, almost you know, like it’s about to die sound. And I just started playing the Crossroads riff, and Steve started playing the kit, and that’s what you hear, that’s the track, that wasn’t thought out anymore than just playing. I think if we’d tried to do it a second time it wouldn’t have worked.
War of My Life is even for me hard to explain, because I don’t want to put any words on it. The idea that you are unafraid. The anthem for finally being unafraid. The moment that you just call into the woods. How often do we say ‘I don’t want to go into that room.’ or ‘What’s under the bed?’ or ‘It’s dark in there’ or ‘I don’t know’. This is the moment where you stand in front of the darkness and you go ‘Let’s go.’ Of course nothing at that point, nothing comes out. And then you start to realize ‘Wow, what if I could live my life like that’.
Edge of Desire is just about ‘want’. It’s about waking up wanting. It’s like crazed desire, and up to the point where it’s like self destructive. You want something so badly you question everything around you. ‘I don’t know, maybe I am but maybe I’m not, but the thing is, I want you!’ Crazed sort of desire. I think that song might get me laid by the way.
Do You Know Me is a little fairytale. I’ve always had this idea about a guy who somehow or another slips through time in the wrong way, or wakes up in the morning and—what would happen if you woke up one morning and the person you loved didn’t even know who you were? How would you prove to them that they loved you? It’s this moment of going up to somebody—it’s either this beautiful fairytale or the worlds worst pick-up line. Saying like ‘You know, it’s the strangest thing’. And you have to see somebody that you love who doesn’t know you and keep cool and go ‘Do you know me?’. And it’s really interesting because the answer—I think that— I mean, I know what the answer is, which is really sad. In my mind it’s like ‘No!’. You know, so that’s another imperfect thing. Is the narrator of the song, is he telling the truth or is he just a whack job?
Friends, Lovers or Nothing came out of a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine, over margaritas at a Mexican restaurant in New York City. It’s sort of like the reasoning at the very, very end of the record. After exploring all of these ideas that maybe we are right, maybe we’re aren’t, maybe we should, maybe— that, it’s the sobering truth that you can’t invent a new relationship. So you know, someone comes up to you and they go ‘He broke—he doesn’t wanna go out with me anymore. He says he’s just—he’s gotta fly, he’s gonna be on the other side of the country’. It’s like, he just doesn’t like you enough. If somebody wants you enough, they’ll stay to— you know, anything other than ‘Yes, I wanna be with you, is no I don’t want to be with you.’

Born and Raised


Queen of California

The Age of Worry

Shadow Days


Speak For Me

Something Like Olivia

Born and Raised

If I Ever Get Around To Living
John during his interview with Alan Light: It was the last song I wrote for the record and where I was in shape... in fighting shape for songwriting and that is an example of not second guessing anything. Bring any idea into the world. I think I had listened to Wooden Ships by Crosby Stills and Nash and I think that inspired the idea of like the suite and the song was one way on one day and it was at the end of the first the part that it would go to the end of the song. Then I woke up the next day and we had gone out the other night and then I woke up the next day and had this unique perspective of the world after going out in New York City and waking up a little banged up. I'm not saying I would use it as a device to write but I kinda had this "free thinking" hat on. So the second part of the song kicked in and then I thought that was it. Then I was like "no no no, go go go". Then there was a third part and just wrote it. I mean don't have it anymore because it's just so fleeting. You have to do it... you have to sit down and write two pages a night in order to write two pages a night and if you don't it disappears. At that point I had written so many songs and ideas, I just got so good at the pulley from idea to conception. That was deep and I still listen to it and there's stuff I'm catching now like "I think you better wise up boy" Where does that come from if not from being so vulnerable?.... "That won't work" is the worst way to go about life...(added by Gee) (P.S I need to learn to paraphrase)

Love Is A Verb

Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967
Also during the interview with Alan Light: I guess every once in awhile people will know you one way and you can throw a wrench in ever once in a while and maybe have some impact. That's the first time a created a world that wasn't someway my own and it just started with complete freedom and picking up a 12-string Dobro and going *insert nautical guitar arpeggios from the mouth here*. I was so good at not stopping myself. I made this little loop and told Chad to turn on the drums and made this nautical little sea march. I've always had this little obsession with building a submarine. Then I said "This sounds like a song a bout a guy who builds a submarine". I wrote the 1st verse on a Thursday and obsessively thought about it. Came back wrote the second. Then it was a weekend and I sat at this bar alone to talk to this guy and I know it sounds cheesy but it's true and I said "What do we do with you?" and "What happens to you? I know that you're off and running but how does this end?" I've never been a novelist or a 3rd person writer and it got really emotional. I went back and got a whiteboard and sang in front of the whiteboard. I have my fantasies about it. I think it would be interesting to write a musical about it. "Why did he do it? What was his family like?" Though that's the interesting thing about it, to come up with a powerful character and write for them. I've just never done it....Everything was about my perspective....Do you like it? (asking the interviewer)


Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey

Face To Call Home

Born And Raised (Reprise)