John Mayer has been on something of a press blitz on the lead up to his new album, The Search For Everything, and earlier this week he dropped by Charlie Rose to talk about the album and his songwriting process. One of the overarching narratives of the record has to do with the lead single, “Still Feel Like Your Man,” which he’s already been pretty open about the fact that it was inspired by his relationship with Katy Perry. Yesterday’s video for the track doubled down on that, given the woman cast in it looked pretty much exactly like Katy.
But on Charlie Rose, he explained that he doesn’t want to play coy about who the record is about. He doesn’t side step the fact that he wrote the track about Perry, but he also hopes that eventually, people can apply it to their own lives.
From the interview:
“[When I’m writing] I think of the person that I left a relationship with,” Mayer explained. “I think of the last person that I parted ways with. I process that very deeply. I get to process that with music. I was in a relationship — I don’t mean to play coy about not using proper nouns — I like to look out for other people’s mornings, when they open up the computer. It’s too easy to sort of spawn these other stories, and then it creeps into other people’s minds, and it reverberates. But I have to watch disingenuousness. I can’t play dumb. But I also don’t want to rattle somebody’s cage on a morning when somebody picks up the story because they love proper nouns. However, I can’t sit here and say I have not done a duet with Katy Perry. I won’t let myself sit here and say that’s a mum word — it’s not a mum word. What’s difficult to explain to people is that’s about where it ends as a proper noun, and it becomes what everybody feels when they end a relationship. What I do, and I’ve come to terms with this, is I write love songs. So it’s very tricky. I would love to be able to put these songs out in a complete vacuum, where people can think about these songs only in their own context. And hopefully if I’ve done a good enough job of writing, they can.”
Watching yesterday’s video, I was a bit skeptical of the process, but this explanation actually resonates with me a bit. Any creator is going to draw on their own specific, subjective experiences to write, particularly about love and relationships, but his mindfulness about the way talking about it could impact Perry’s life is actually pretty respectful.