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Wild Blue

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

Don Was: There was a period just after Christmas and before the vaccine was available to us when there was a spike in new cases of Covid. Going to the studio was deemed to be too risky so we set up a control room in a tent in your backyard and finished the album in there! I've been making records for 40 years and that was a first! How did you feel about that?

JM: I think that was the perfect ending to making Sob Rock. We'd all looked out for each other for so many months that even when it became too dangerous to even go into the studio, we saw it through up here at my house. I sang the vocals for "Wild Blue" in my bedroom! That line about "on a bed of gray"? That's from me looking over at my bed with a gray comforter on it! We saw it through.

Sob Rock album release stream
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This next song, ooh! This next song was known for most of the recording session as "August 6th." It was called "August 6th" because it didn't have a name, it didn't have any words. It was just this track that was really hypnotic and cool and I hoped I was gonna be able to write lyrics for. And in true "me" fashion, I pulled it out in the 11th hour and really really fought. I would spend every weekend at my kitchen table with a little Pro Tools rig and a microphone and headphones and try to crack this song, because I wanted the music so badly. And I have a very long track record of losing the music because I couldn't find the lyrics. And I just didn't want that to happen on this, cause I just liked the music so much that I fought every weekend: let's try it again, let's try it again, let's try it again. In the car, obsessing. I'd bring the instrumental in the car. Try, and try, and try, and try, until I found the lyrics, that I had actually touched on on the record before, that [hadn't] quite coalesce[d] into a song. And let this be a lesson to you, writers: sometimes going back into the "semi-used" bin is extremely useful. It became a song called "Wild Blue."

I recorded the vocals for this song in my bedroom because COVID was at such a peak of threat in Los Angeles that it didn't even feel safe to be in a recording studio. So we moved a very skeleton crew into my house and worked outside under a tent, and I was in my bedroom as if it was an iso booth for singing. 

And I really love that memory, that I did these vocals in my bedroom. The song is called "Wild Blue." I've never written another song like it. Super excited for you to hear it. It is a mega bop. And this is "Wild Blue."

That's a fun one to sing. Cause you don't really have to sing it. You just have to get super mellow and pretend you have a Camel light in your hand. [Sings] "Never seen the sun before..." I just recorded it twice. It's a very JJ Cale thing. So, [for] the vocal, I was thinking, well, really loved JJ Cale. You know, I still do love JJ Cale, and the way he sang. What if this kind of hypnotical jazz fusion thing had JJ Cale on top of it? [Sings] "Never seen the sun before, lying on the ocean floor."

It also reminds me of "Wildest Dreams" by Moody Blues. [Sings part of "Wildest Dreams"] 

I also remember singing this, and there's one line at the end of the song that is so funny to me. I go, [singing] "oh baby what a wild blu-u-u-u-u-u-ue, I found"—it's like the longest note run. It's got little funny moments, you know? That little interlude: [hums instrumental interlude]. It's very twirly. I kind of want to put on a thing and just twirl. Just twirl in a half-lit environment. "Wild Blue."

Also, standing in my bedroom while I was writing the song. "Deeper than I ever knew." I had that. Look over my bed, no joke, [singing] "on a bed of grey." I had a grey bed.

Wild Blue. Well, I hope you like that.

Guitar World - October 2021
Interview from October 2021 Issue of Guitar World magazine

I'll try one. To me, the song "Wild Blue" sounds like it came straight off Fleetwood Mac's Tango in the Night — the driving-but-relaxed rhythm, the taut, clean-toned guitar lines, the soft background vocals. If I were to get even more specific, our first solo in that one sounds to my ears like Lindsey Buckingham playing through Mark Knopfler's gear.

[Laughs] The solo is certainly a Knopfler thing. Although the song makes me think more of Boz Skaggs in, like '79, '80, like a really tightly engineered, two-inch tape thing. Maybe Alan Parsons. Or [Steve Miller Band's] "Abracadabra."But the solo, that's actually the take from the first time we really played the song. And it's the only song that I brought in while we were making Sob Rock. I had nine songs and this was the 10th, and it came out in the middle of a session for something else. And that's the take. I didn't have a guitar pick so I decided to just fingerpick it. And I think it's through the Fractal, actually. It's like the "Studio Clean" setting or something like that. Don't hold me to that. But it was one of those kinds of settings. Because I was doing a scratch and it was, "Hey, let's just play the thing...''

Radio Intros 2024
LIFE With John Mayer on Sirius XM Radio

There's three types of songs. There's the songs that are good. There's songs you think are good. And then there are songs you just feel like are gifts that drop down into your hands and they get to be yours for the rest of time. That's a song like Wild Blue to me. I can listen to it like it's someone else's song. It has this sort of 70s Boz Scaggs super-dry 70s tape recording vibe.

A lot of people have said it channels Mark Knopfler. I don't think they're wrong, I suppose I might have thought about it a little bit. But one artist I thought a lot about in the vocal department is the great JJ Cale. And I sang this with that lilting sort of relaxed JJ Cale thing. And I double-tracked it. And it's really fun to sing in the style of JJ Cale. Because you just sort of utter it. You don't really have to push.

Excerpted from Radio Intros 2024 >