Album cover

Born and Raised

Interview in Guitarist magazine
Conducted by Mick Taylor (Issue 327)

MT: Do you think the acoustic might be an area that you'd revisit for an album at some point down the line?

JM: Of course. I'd like to make my folk record. Absolutely - it'll all get used!

Interview at the Grammy Museum
"An Evening With John Mayer"
It's so funny, I was just listening to [Born and Raised] and every measure that goes by, it's like a Soundcloud thing.There are certain wave forms, it has a little thing on it and it goes [demonstrated annotating a waveform], "I remember taking a walk to buy that guitar on Bleecker Street," or something. So there's all these moments that go by that are so lovely. And they disappear, sadly they disappear in a couple of years. I just heard Continuum back on the plane yesterday and I was like, I don't really remember every impetus for this, but all that's left is the music, which is beautiful, but for a moment you remember, like,—those cymbals. Aaron Sterling, who plays the drums on eleven of the twelve tracks, he and I had the experience of he's on one side of the studio and I'm on the other side of the studio, and he's going [sings part of chorus to "Age of Worry" while miming cymbal hits] and we're looking at each other having a blast. And I said going into this record, I just want to cook it with love. I just want everyone in it to be so loving.
Interview from All Things Considered
"John Mayer: Restoring An Image, And An Instrument"

GR: How does this sort of affect you when you, say - I mean, when you were recording this record, "Born and Raised," I mean, did you suspect anything while you were in the studio? Did you just sort of suddenly think: Something's wrong.

JM:Oh, yeah. No, I knew it was wrong because I'd gone to a doctor back in April and saw this thing on the scope. But I also, the way that I wrote this record was by singing. I didn't sit down and compose this on a piece of paper. This was composed, you know, into a microphone, you know, and I have--

GR: You're saying that you didn't sit down and - with pen and pad and write the lyrics down?

JM: No. This record was all about like, it's sort of improv. And so I would, like, enter this kind of trance - I know it sounds a little bit highfalutin - but I would enter this sort of trance. And sometimes it'd be an hour, sometimes it'd be 90 minutes, and, you know - and for every song on this record, I remember the moment I went, oh, let's chase this, you know? And then you begin to sort of work on that one project.

So I think the record's conversational that way because it's not as much of a thought-out, me penning a song on a piece of paper. It's me talking into a microphone. It's expressing myself at that moment.
Article in Rolling Stone, 2013
"John Mayer on His New Voice, Summer Tour and Dating Katy Perry"
I think Born and Raised is my most significant, meaningful record, and it’s also my least popular album. And that could be because I wasn’t ready to tour and promote, but also the videos came out, the record came out, it had a shot. I’m OK with that. And I think those couple years off that I couldn’t get on the ice sort of made me a lot more mellow and allowed me to see things by the month instead of the minute. And that was very cool for me. I don’t have opinions about most things anymore when it comes to music, because I’m aware that it doesn’t matter what I think anymore.

PD: Would you jam on some of the old singles, like “Daughters,“ and extend it into a long jam?

JM: No. I think some of those songs aren’t designed for it. But that’s what I think is so great about Born and Raised. Most of it is designed to be jammed on, believe it or not. It’s been very difficult to not tour on, because that record itself tells half the story of those songs, and the other half of the story is told onstage. And I’ve had the live versions in my head ever since I made the record. I mean, “If I Ever Get Around to Living” could be a 12-minute-long song, and still be very interesting and unique and worth listening to.

Article in Time magazine
"10 Questions for John Mayer"
I didn't know I had a granuloma for most of the making of Born and Raised. The songs are all low [in pitch] because I would hit a ceiling faster. Looking back on it now, I've been making these records based on those limitations.
Interview at the Oxford Union
"Life in Music"
Born and Raised was the most incredible experience I ever had making a record. Doesn't have to be someone's or everyone's favorite for me to be able to tell you that discovering that record—by way of each and every song coming out and going, Oh I have you now—that was really a remarkable time. That's when I needed music the most, and that's when being a composer really came in and made me feel great.
Interview with My Stupid Mouth forum (2013)
Conducted by founder Richard Young

Born and Raised, the culture around that, I just remember waking up in the morning, going to the studio, getting a cup of coffee, and never taking breaks. It was the most aggressive work ethic I’ve ever had. Artists do really well when they have something to prove. Sometimes I seem to have, in the past, placed myself in those positions purposefully to have something to prove without knowing it. 

I remember waking up in the morning, going into the studio, and there was no wasted time. In New York City, space is at such a premium that they don’t make studios with huge lounges like they do in Los Angeles. So, LA makes it a lot harder to get to work. In New York, it’s like, you kind of want to work because there is nowhere else to sit. 

I just remember day after day after day starting out with nothing and by the end of the night, it was like a craps roll, even for things that never ended up as full songs. I would come up with an idea and go, “I’ve got something,” and we’d tap out a click track, which is basically a metronome that you record over. I’d record over it, and I’d come back in and listen to it and I would keep changing and rewriting on the fly and by the end of the night we’d have a tune. 

Every tune for me told me more about myself than I knew. So for me, that was a very personal revelation, saying to me, This is a part of who you are. "Born and Raised," "Whiskey Whiskey Whiskey," "If I Ever Get Around to Living," "Speak for Me," "Queen of California," "Fool to Love You," "Love is a Verb." They are all really, really great songs, as far as I’m concerned. 

Maybe I shouldn’t be saying it that way, but that tells you more about the relationship I have with songwriting—the songs are sort of my kids. Is it cocky to say that your oldest is now going to Stanford or something? 

I guess I can be cocky about it because the songs weren’t really commercial. And maybe I’m biased by the experience itself, but I look back on those songs and I now realize that the life of an artist over 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30 years is really not for the faint-hearted. You’ll do things that you just sort of throw out there and they become hits, and then you’ll do things when you listen back to them you go, “Well, say goodnight. It’s over—it’s a hit classic record,” and then it disappears. That’s really the buy-in for being an artist for a long, long time—not being able to call it.

Born and Raised was already going to be a difficult thing in the first place, had I even been able to promote it. But now, Born and Raised is going to be a really special little thing for the people who are hip to it. Hopefully in the future, I’ll be having dinner, and somebody will come up to me every once in a while and say, “Born and Raised is my jam.” And I’ll say, “Thank you, mine too.”

Interview with My Stupid Mouth forum (2015)
Conducted by founder Richard Young

Born and Raised, I know what that record is. I know because I was there and I listened to it and I felt it. It may not be the music that got people into me first, and that in and of itself can be confusing and it can divide an audience a bit.

If that was my first record, only the people that would have dug that kind of music would have come into it. So I understand that I’m kind of shuffling up the audience a little bit when I’m saying, “Well, inside of this audience that’s been created because of my initial music, there is this other thing that other people might like but aren’t going to find because they already align themselves with not being fans of mine.”

If Born and Raised had come out first, I’d have a whole different career. Probably smaller. But a whole different career. I’d be on tour with Wilco. There’s a little cognitive dissonance where I’m putting out a record that could be great in a different artist’s repertoire but because the walls come down on you and they go, “Oh, you’re this guy!” it probably got listened to by certain people who didn’t dig it and not listened to by certain people who would have dug it. 

But I can’t concern myself with it because I know when I go onstage, I can pull out something from Born and Raised or other deep cuts anytime I want. It’s all a fun ride.

March 2017 Twitter Q&A
Twitter Q&A session with fans

was Helpless the song that almost made it onto Born and Raised?

Yes, but the verses were completely different. Had to rewrite them which was intense work.

Charlie Rose Interview
Interview from appearance on The Charlie Rose Show

Okay, so 2010 I come off the road, I go, I want to just make a completely different record. So I make Born and Raised. But I'm living in New York City and I'm completely left alone, it's really great. But I didn't move to Montana until 2011. So I made Born and Raised in New York and LA. Moved to Montana where I wanted to move anyway. Then I had a vocal situation that prohibited me from singing on tour. And I made another record out there because I went, Well I just want to make records. That's what I do.

And I love that guys like Stephen King can write a short one or a big one. I mentioned this before, but George Clooney is who everybody should aspire to be in their career. Make a big one, [then] make a black-and-white one. And I went, This should be a black-and-white one. And it sort of gets flattened and reduced so that people can sort of—

Facebook livestream
Fan Q&A following "Love on the Weekend" song premiere
I think what happens is, the first line in Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey, “well, we pick up in New York City/ I'm trying to find the man I never got to be,” is really the line for Born and Raised. That's, like, the first line under Born and Raised. If there was the Star Wars scroll, it would say, “Born and Raised: well, I pick up in New York City…” And that was very true to me, that whole record.
Excerpted from Facebook livestream >
Podcast interview with Dean Delray
Let There Be Talk, Part 1 of 2, Episode #501

It just so happened at the end of the summer tour of 2010 I discovered No Direction Home, the Bob Dylan documentary. Maybe the very first modern digital documentary that blew my mind.

DD: That thing, that "Ballad of a Thin Man" on that movie is a game changer.
 
JM: For me it’s when he did "Forever Young" in The Last Waltz—it changed my life again. And I was at the end of the Battle Studies tour, it was 2010 and I was laying in a hotel bed—maybe I was in Philly or something, I'll never forget it. My feet started going under the covers and I was watching Bob Dylan and I went “I'm done. I'm done. I have to, I have to know what this music is. I have to know what this music is. I can't believe I have to keep touring right now, I can't believe it. This is it, this is it for me.” I watched him play all these songs and I just went, This is it for me. This is my future, this is where I want to live. There's honesty here. This person is not interested in the things I've been interested in.

DD: Not at all.

JM: “I have to go here, I have to go here.” And that’s why as soon as I got off the road in September of [20]10 I was in the studio. I was at Electric Lady. [I] started writing song after song. I mean a song a day, Dean, I was writing a song a day. And I was drinking a lot. Because I was working my shit out, because I had gone through it. And I’d stopped the bleeding. I stayed on tour and I knew, “Okay John”, and maybe this is what—maybe I had synthesized not making it. And I didn't mean to—maybe I did mean to—but that would be super psycho deep. I had a couple of years where I walked around New York City and nobody knew who I was.

So people think that I went from LA, kind of Battle Studies, to Montana, but I actually was in New York. I said, "I'm out of here," and I went to Lafayette and Spring [Streets]. So I was right there but nobody really cared, which, I was like, “Okay, this is a market correction and I'm ready for it.” I remember taking it like, "Alright, look, we're in this for the long run, let's just go back to music [...]." Cause I remember doing comedy, going, like, Well music’s locked down. No, that’s it for the rest of your life. That's where the joy is, and I just went back to it.

I would go to the studio and I'd wear, like, a Brioni suit—I remember I got into Brioni suits—and I just wanted to go to the studio in a suit. And right around 6 o'clock the Sierra Nevada would come out.

DD: Oh, love it, that's great. 

JM: Oh, you put a Sierra Nevada right down on the microphone stand, and you just start going in your own head writing—and songs would come out! Then I go to dinner, and it's like three margaritas. And sometimes I go back to the studio. Cause I'd be excited. I walk right back into Electric Lady and I just go back. “I got it, I got it," and it would come. But I would stay out ‘til 4:00 AM.