John Mayer: But I did make a record that I didn't see coming. When we first went in the lock down—I don't know if you guys had the same experience—I had no music inside me. I was in a very kind of objective tactical mindset. And that plays no music in my head.
And when I picked it up again maybe two months into it, it felt so good. That it became—and all the way through until the end of last year, maybe even into January of this year—just the elixir. It was the only thing to do that could give some peace and it made my record really great, and it probably has made everyone's record really great. I think when people start putting records out in the next few months they're all going to be bangers because what the pandemic did was force your focus. Everything that was a distraction was gone and the only thing you could do was music. And for me—I don't know if you guys had this experience—it reminded me of when I made my first record. It's the lean years. You can't fly anywhere. It used to be because you didn't have the money. And now it's because you can't. So all of this stuff pushing against us, for me the only other time I experienced that were the forces of not being successful, not having any money, not being able to do anything but make music to survive. And I think—again that's the lemonade coming out of the lemons, I certainly don't wish for it—that's the silver lining is that people's art is going to be more powerful than ever.
JM: I think the record is great and it's going to piss off some Dead Heads because it is not Grateful Dead-inspired music, through and through. It is incredibly pop, man. It's [a] very pop record, so we will see. I enjoy the wavelengths beating up against one another.
Mike Finoia: John when you started to dive as deep as you did into the Dead, did you get into watching Jerry interviews and listening to him as a fan—just wanting to know more about Garcia?
JM: A little bit. I knew though that I was coming from a different world, like I was already coming from a different universe. So to me everything you think I would have gotten from an interview I got from every single note that he was playing, and I can tell you why. So once you understand the arrangements—I was hot to learn the arrangements so I could understand the relativity of what made his playing different on any given night. Once I can do that and I can lock into this control group—okay here's how "China Cat Sunflower" goes. Right, here's how it goes. Hearing all of the different permutations of his playing on top of it, I mean down to the note, for me was like hearing his theory of the world or his philosophy on life through playing. And I still get that.
And I've always felt that I could hear the records Jerry was listening to either in between tours or backstage on a record player. It would always make it's way in. So you could pick up little things and go, oh look what he was listening to. And I could feel it sometimes. You guys used to do a song called, "Next Time You See Me," and I could tell like, oh he's having a Freddie King moment. Jerry is having a Freddie King blues moment. And then you could hear these other things and go, oh okay once you understand how the arrangement goes and once you understand the baseline. Not only the bass line of the music but b-a-s-e line of what the song is, you understand that peoples' souls live in the variances between the performances.