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Rise For the River: Flood Benefit Concert

Performance of Born and Raised album

[Plays "Queen of California"]

These are all songs tonight that sound good in the mountains.

I had a typewriter in my house when I was making this record, and I would just walk past it and type stuff without looking. And one time I typed: "close your eyes and clone yourself/ build your heart an army/ to defend your innocence/ while you do everything wrong." And I took it in the studio, and it became this.

[Plays "The Age of Worry"]

I want to talk a little bit about each song before I play it. Just give a little nugget about it.

I remember being in the studio messing around, and loving the idea that a chorus could say, "I'm a good man." And there was something about it at the time that felt very important to declare that, a little bit. And this is a song called "Shadow Days."

[Plays "Shadow Days" and "Speak for Me"]

Thank you very much.

The older I get the more I realize that that song was about me getting older. And about, as you get older, fewer and fewer people speak for you. But better and better people speak for you, you find out.

This next song is one that I was the most unsure about being on the record because it had the most, kind of, boppy-ness to it. Maybe poppy-ness to it. And over the years, I'm glad it's on the record. It's called "Something Like Olivia."

[Plays "Something Like Olivia" and "Born and Raised"]

Oh, I like this next one a lot. I've always felt like if I went into this next one during a show and people cheered, I would look around and be like, [contentedly] "yeah, okay." I would stick to the people who cheered. I would keep eye contact with them. They were my little island inside of a bunch of thousands of people. Like okay, you get it. But I feel like you all get it.

I'm trying to become more of a human being, as opposed to just a big list of ideas. I'm trying to humanize, not just theorize. This song is about what would happen if I managed to do that, and stop being so theoretical. "Everything's an idea, everything's an idea I'm gonna start tomorrow." What are you, in the midst of bangin' out some new idea? Who are you, in the middle of that? I think I'm getting better at it. But ideas are still fun.

How many people aren't going back to school this year, but still have back-to-school outfits picked out? How weird is that? [Gestures toward audience member] Well, you're going back to school. What, do you work in a mine? You're like fourteen years old. You're going back to school. Even if no one else tells you to go back to school, I'm telling you. "John, he actually is working in a mine!"

[Plays "If I Ever Get Around to Living"]

Thank you very much. Having a good time so far?

I love you too. Thank you for accepting me and embracing me as your neighbor for so many years. Some of you really accepted me for over a decade now. And I love Montana. So much so that that statement sounds a little cringey. Thank you.

[Plays "Love is a Verb"]

Thank you.

Alright I'm going to tell you what the secret of the clock is. There's a clock. I'm telling you, this is the moment I'm going to reveal it.

I thought maybe someone would have figured it out. There is a pocket watch style sort of clock on the cover of Born and Raised, and it's set to a very specific time. And it's there for a reason. And no one ever wondered what was the significance of the time. But I brought it up a couple of months ago and said like, there's something to this. And I thought that maybe someone would figure it out and I would send them something, like as a reward for finding the answer. But I figured now is as good a time as any to tell you what the answer is. So, I'm obsessed with time, as you might know from my lyrics. And love of horology. That's the study of watches. Not what you think it is. And I think it's like 11:38, or something like that. 10:38? What is it? It's 10:40 or something like that? 10:38? Yes, 10:38. Oh you have it right there? Let me take it as a— I think this is worth the wait.

So, that's right, it's 10:38. Why is it at 10:38? I am obsessed with my place in time. I'm always thinking about my place in time. If the average male life expectancy was a 24-hour day, then at the time I released this album, it was 10:38 AM in the entire day of my life.

And now, as I stand here before you, it's about lunch time. If you go home and figure out what time of day it is in your life, I promise you it will motivate you to live more life. You're like, you're like breakfast. You're at breakfast, babies. Stay where you are. So that's the secret of the clock. How's that feel?

This guitar only ever did one thing. [Arpeggiating dobro guitar] I picked it up one day and I went like this.

[Plays "Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967"]

Thank you. 

I wanna say one thing that might get me in trouble because that is what I do. That song is soon to be a major motion picture. It's true. It's true. It's gonna be a movie.

I also sold my life rights. No, I didn't do that. I didn't sell my life rights. I'll give you $38, son. Cocky move, selling your life rights, isn't it? And why have you come in today? Well, I have an idea. We wanna be in the John Mayer business. What is it? I'm going to sell you my whole life story. 100 bucks a minute, thank you, that's very kind.

[Plays "Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey"]

Thank you. One more time for Aaron Sterling, who's hanging out this summer. He was just hangin', and I said, you gotta do the thing. And he said, I'd love to. 

[Fan yells "Drone Shot of my Yacht!"]

I can't put "Drone Shot of my Yacht" in the middle of the track listing of Born and Raised.

I listened back the other night so that I could sort of get it back in my head. You know, we're allowed to have opinions about our own work. Especially ten years after—

And I listened to it and I was like, ah this is beautiful. I got choked up, I don't normally get choked up, but sometimes you listen back to yourself from ten years ago and it's like a part of yourself you didn't know you had going on in there. And you sort of have this little self sympathy, or self—I won't say self love but I might want to.

[Plays "Face To Call Home," "Born and Raised - Reprise," and "Fool To Love You"]

That is the Born and Raised album plus the bonus track. [Applause]

I want to tell you from the bottom of my heart in case anyone—and everyone out there creates something, even if it's just a dream to go do something. I knew this record was special. Don Was who recorded the record with me knew it was special. Aaron Sterling, who recorded the record with me knew it was special. And it came out and it didn't quite land and we would have intermittent conversations, "this is special. It is special, right?" And Don would say, "people will catch on. People will catch on. It's a good piece of work, don't worry. It's got longevity on it. And over the last ten years you have put the paper machete on it. You've put your own pictures up on that wall. I just built the wall. And I said, I think it's a pretty good wall, right? And then you started to put your love of the music on this wall that I built. And it's my favorite record because you've put the sort of tapestry to it. 

No one told you to listen to this record. That's an understatement. And you've made that record grow throughout the years. So if anybody is working on a thing or just put a thing out and is thinking to themselves, "what if nobody cares?" I promise you, if it's a good solid wall for people to put their images and their love and their stories up onto, it will get seen, it will get noticed. So keep making the work that you want to make.

And we're gonna play some other songs now that sound good in the mountains. 

What if it was "Your Body Is a Wonderland," though?

[Plays "Who Says," Waiting on the Day," and "Friend of the Devil"]

So I thought, in keeping with the spirit of Born and Raised, I'll play a cover song that meant a lot to me when I was writing that record. Probably a song that inspired me in one way or another. It's a Bob Dylan song.

[Plays "Buckets of Rain"]

[John talks about the flood and thanks everyone]

[Plays "Dear Marie" and "In the Blood"]