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New Light

Interview with Zane Lowe, 2018
John Mayer: 'New Light' Premiere | Apple Music

For instance, this song was not easy to write lyrically. It just wasn't. 

ZL: And why is that?

JM: It was written out of sequence. So I had the chorus and I had the second verse before I had the first verse. You usually have a place to start. I had to write the first verse in a way that would be reverse engineered to a place where as you heard it still it made sense.

And yeah, there's code-cracking involved. So even I as I sit here and I'm like, oh, they should all be this effortless—I went crazy for two weeks.

I liked the idea of still being the musician that I've always been but changing the vocabulary a little bit. Certainly this is not a hip-hop track, but it has a vitality to it that I think is really modern. And it was interesting to work with him because he's just such a great artist in terms of samples and taking things and moving them around and really turning it into an instrument. There's no doubt, like, his use of Ableton is insane. It's like a violin for him.

And I learned really quickly like what I could do and what I couldn't do. The first few days he would bring up these samples and they were great I'd be like, Put me in. And because there wasn't—so hip-hop is a different harmonic agreement with the world then what I do. So I'd hear these loops and I'd go, Put me in. And there'd be nowhere to go because harmonically speaking like I couldn't put a song on it, you can only really put top line on it.

It's like Lionel Richie's "Hello" or something. I tried to make a song that was all the best melodic stuff from the 80s. It's got a little bit of [sings chorus of "Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder]. And then here's what I do: this is called the, "thanks for listening." One more hook at the end. [Sings "New Light" outro]
Instagram Live Stream Q&A (September 2018)
Excerpts from Live Stream Q&A

Q: [Read by John from feed] How do I stay creative and keep involved in my music?

Ridiculously short attention span. Ridiculously short attention span. [Laughing]

"New Light" is still becoming a bigger hit every week. I don't know if you know it's becoming a bigger hit every week. And I already am like, I don't know if I can do a whole record like that. Cause I've already lived with it for so long.

I mean it's crazy that "New Light" is still working, I love it. But I'm already thinking about the record after this one.

Interview with Andy Cohen, 2019
Appearance on Radio Andy show

Andy Cohen: I mean, it's hard to bust into this song and talk, because I just want to hear it. Two lines in that little verse: "I'm the boy in your other phone," and "pushin' forty in the friend zone." I mean, those are two great lines.

John Mayer: Thank you. You know, people were really nervous about that line. Ricky [Van Veen] was nervous about that line. Oh, yeah. Very close friends were like, you can't say you're pushing forty in a pop song. Because people won't listen. People who listen aren't forty. And I'm glad I stuck it out. Cause it's more interesting than it isolates anyone from being forty. It's just, like, an interesting, weird line.

And I do think that sometimes I'm in someone else's [other phone]. Like, we never imagine that we might be in someone's second phone. But we are always like, I'm gonna put them here. The other day I thought to myself, I think there's people I know on Instagram who are muting me. There's someone right now who you really like who is probably muting your, at least your posts, if not stories. And once you have that sort of global take on the world, [you realize], yeah, the same things that I'm doing to other people, people are doing to me.

Sob Rock album release stream
Via Clubhouse app
We're gonna go into the third song, which is the first song ever released for this record back in 2018. You can do that, you know. This song is called "New Light," and not to be a little pat, but it itself is sort of rendered in a new light when you hear it in this particular track listing. The thing about this record that surprised even me was how the three songs that had already existed before this record even came out, blended into the track list as if it had all been written in the same time. Which I was really, really happy about. This is one of those songs where, if you're an artist you'll know what I mean when I say, I got no problem with this song. I got a problem with a lot of songs of mine, but I got no problem with this song. This song comes on, I go: yup. And that's where you want to get to in a career. Is where you're making the kind of work where you can modify it and work on it and get it to the point where once it comes out you go, "yeah." It's such a cool interesting sonic palette for the song, too. Lot of low end, fuzzy, cool sneaky little things happening in the song. Hearing it again for the first time, it's "New Light."

I'm actually bopping like I did in the video. I dance like I danced in the "New Light" video because I danced like that while I was making this record. For some reason this song makes me dance in a way that's most kinesthetically comfortable to me. The way that I want to dance to this song might not be all that pretty to other people. But you know when you dance in a way that's honest to yourself and makes you really, really happy? It's a lot of shoulders. I got broad shoulders and I really lean in with them on this song.

As I was listening back to it, I was thinking it has the low end—it has a little of "Say Say Say," you know, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. [Sings and scats part of "Say Say Say"] And then it's also got a little bit of "Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder. [Sings chorus of "Break My Stride"]

Which might be the single most visceral sentimental song from my childhood. I just remember listening to "Break My Stride." All these really interesting melodic things with a straight drum track. I think that's sort of what created "New Light" and made me feel like, oh, I'm really plugging into a childlike thing here, musically.