I think it was like around the time that I was making Continuum. I was having myself a little sex, and listening to Miles Davis' "In A Silent Way." And I was naked and I was playing the guitar. Post-coital. Mid-Miles Davis' "In A Silent Way." And I think I was tinkering around with a guitar and I went [singing and playing guitar] "Who says I can't get stoned, [scatting] duh na duh na the shades alone, who says I can't get stoned."
It was lovely. And I'd always played it for the last three years straight—to my friend and roommate and front of house engineer Chad Franscoviak—and I would say, check this out, [plays part of "Who Says"].
He would say, you need to do that. You need to do that. And I went, I'm nervous about the stone thing.
And then I always had this other thing that went. [Sings chorus of "Who Says"] "It's been a long night in New York City. It's been a long night in Baton Rouge"—because we knew a girl [who] was from Baton Rouge, Chad and I.
And that's all I had. I had these two pieces and I thought they were very strange. They were very unlike one another. The verse and the chorus are very much unlike one another. And when they went together it made this really mystifying sort of concoction.
And I played it for Steve Jordan. Steve Jordan. Ladies and gentlemen, Steve Jordan. Worked on Continuum and Battle Studies.
And here's the thing about songwriters: they always have more songs than they're playing you. There's always another song behind another song behind another song. We sort of played everything on the record that I had and I went. Well, here's one. And it was in the performing the song for him that I faked the arrangement of the song. And I had one of those brilliant moments of being a songwriter where you just know you're going to finish it up that night.
And it was a certain moment in the song—songwriters have a certain moment in the song they know they've done something. And the entire song would be a joke if I hadn't sung, "it's been a long time since 22." And when I sang, "it's been a long time since 22," the whole song made sense and I sort of got choked up, because it has been a long time since 22. And I do mean to be the same person I've always tried to be and I don't expect to have any different a set of circumstances than someone else or anyone else who'd gotten very successful, very well known, very well paid. I don't suspect that there's anything that's happening to me that hasn't happened to everybody else except I want to control the destiny of that, you know. And to be able to say, It's been a long time since 22. And I don't know if you guys agree with me, but has it not been a long time since 22?
And it starts with singing this to yourself, who says I can't: fill in the blank, everybody. Who says you can't? I know there's a couple crazy people in here who are like, no the law still says you can't. But for most people nobody is saying you can't be yourself.
If you put something on you look in the mirror and you like it, go out in it. And when somebody looks at you and they say, Why are you wearing that? Instead of going, like don't even look down, go, I like this, why you wearing that? Watch them run away. They'll never bother you again because the world is full of bullies.
Just remember, it's bullying. Stand up to bullies. And "Who Says" is my stand up to the inner bullies in people. And I hope you enjoy.