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Why You No Love Me

Sob Rock Zine Volume 1
Introductory note printed in Sob Rock Zine Volume 1

DW: One of the rawest and most poignant songs on the album is "Why You No Love Me." I must admit that, when I first heard your demo, I was a bit thrown by the hook line's adverb 'situation.' I totally get it now and am in awe of the incredible beauty of the writing... but it took a minute to get used to that line. What would you like people to know about this song?

JM: It's funny. I would say by the fifth time I hear it back when I first wrote it as a demo, the words sounded right to me. They've sounded right to me ever since. Those words in that order, that's about getting hurt so deep it hits you right in the kid, where you can't even form sentences correctly. To me the saddest part of it is that it's wrapped up in a soft rock banger. It makes me laugh because the two emotions ram up against each other, and I don't know whether to cry or sway to it, so I just laugh, because the emotional mix is so odd.

Sob Rock album release stream
Via Clubhouse app

That leads us into the next song. Which to me is definitely the sort of the pièces de résistance of the record in terms of the mischief and the bravery, a little bit, and the going-for-it. A little bit of fear—of people not knowing what I mean. But also a lot of conviction that this is what I mean. So I'm gonna tell you, this song is called "Why You No Love Me." And I've heard people already—wow, there's a lot of people in this room. There's a lot of people watching this. Hello everybody. 

I've heard people online. What they call "chatter." I've heard chatter. People saying, you know, why not say "why you don't love me"? It sounds funny. And I get to say in one of these rare moments in my life: that's the way it is. That's the choice I made. It's not even a choice, that's the directive that the song gave me. And I got to spend a couple of trust-me points, then I'll do that on this song. I think it's right. I think it's correct. And I hope, and think, that you will with a couple more listens understand the language of the chorus. 

It's called "Why You No Love Me." It's got as many moving parts as you can fit into a song. It reminds me of a time in my life before real rational thought, and just being a kid taking in the world in all of its way-too-tall glory. The end of the 1970's, the beginning of the 1980's. My grandfather's Chevy Nova. The first microwave I ever saw in my life. Watching a marshmallow get big at my grandmother's house.

And listening to the music as it enters your skull. This is where this song brought me. And I really did a lot of laughing while this song was being made musically. And I did a lot of crying.

And the white linen on the beach—it is kind of my take on a yacht rock song. It's the best that I can do as a writer/producer. It's as good as I'm gonna get so far. It's called "Why You No Love Me." Check it out.

[Plays "Why You No Love Me" track]

Listen to this great Greg Phillinganes chord. Ooh! My goodness. That's "Why You No Love Me."

And that was actually the reason I reached out to Maren Morris, who's on this track, and I'll explain how. I reached out to Maren because I heard this vocal on this song that I couldn't get to myself. So when I sing falsetto—because I have a very limited range—[sings part of "Why You No Love Me" chorus], it's missing a tone because I'm singing in head voice, what's called head voice. And I knew from experience—I had done song before called "All We Ever Do is Say Goodbye," and I was singing all the top parts, and it doesn't quite cut. And I went, I didn't want to have that experience again, who can do that high part? Maren Morris can do that high part because she destroys me when she sings, she's got that thing. So Maren came in to do "Why You No Love Me." I said I can hear you on this track.

And what was so great about it is what you hear on the final version of the song you just heard—is the both of us doing that one voice together. And if you take her out it's just this kind of empty falsetto that I'm doing. But when she goes in, she's like the solid center of the note, and I'm the airy candy coating of the note. And together it's like this singer that doesn't quite exist. And the selflessness of being as big an artist as Maren Morris and coming in—it's almost like being a great actor and coming in and training in a tennis ball suit in a green screen and not even being seen as yourself. She's helping me make this sound of a singer that I can't get to. And adding so much depth to it. I'm really proud that she wanted to be on it, that she is on it, and that she's singing on a record in that selfless a way to contribute to a sound that when you hear it, you go, man, I don't know what that is, but it's really something. 

And I still don't know what that is. I still don't know what "Why You No Love Me" is. I was listening to it and going, is this a little "I Just Called to Say I Love You?" And the ending of this song is—for you musos out there—flat six, flat seven, one. If one is [sings ending melody], which is really [sings ending melody to "I Just Called to Say I Love You"], as an homage to Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You." I just remember growing up and hearing that song and just feeling so enveloped by it. Sometimes I call a song a sperm donor for a record—sorry for that crassness of that—and "Why You No Love Me" is sort of the musical sperm donor. I go, oh, the rest of the record can sort of have this DNA in it. And that's "Why You No Love Me." So thank you Maren.

Instagram Story Q&A (August 2021)
Questions from various fans

Q: what song off Sob Rock is the most meaningful to you?

A: "Why You No Love Me" [with "BANNED" graphic overlaid]

Sorry. The forbidden song. Track 4.

Podcast interview with Cory Wong
"Mayer is King," Episode 1 of 2 from Wong Notes Podcast

CW: How many mix revisions do you usually do on?

JM: That's a great question. They're different every time, but we get up to the teens. "Why You No Love Me" got up to the twenties. 

CW: Really? I mean, what's the difference between eighteen and twenty-six?

JM: When you get up there, eighteen has all the changes of seventeen but the thing back you took out sixteen is back.

We did the drums on "Why You No Love Me" three times. And I remember looking at Don Was going, ooh this is my ego gamble here, cause if this doesn't work, I'm going to lose—not that he would ever hold it against me. But we're people. We have a line of credit as artists. If you say, "follow me," twice, three times, and you don't bring them anywhere, they don't follow you the fourth time.

And I went, no no no, we have to do it again. Brought in a drummer again, same drummer. Aaron Sterling. And I said I'm looking for a snare, and I had to figure out what I wanted it to sound like. I want the snare to go, "thit." And he goes, "thit." Okay, let me work on it. And, I'll be damned, he got a snare that sort of went, "thit." And when he started playing on it, the whole song unlocked.

Podcast Interview with Rick Rubin
Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin

JM: I love it. I love the gamble. And I wanted the sort of, Stephen Bishop, "On and On," really sensitive.

RR: Yeah, I love that song.

JM: And we did the drum track three times. And I was trying to explain what I wanted the drums to do. I said, you know what, I finally got it, I want the drums to go, "thit." I want the snare to go, "thit". T-H-I-T. And we got, "thit." And I remember feeling like with Don that I had gone past my line of credit, a little bit, with going for a third drum take. And when we heard it, I went, that's what I'm talking about!