Album cover

The Search for Everything

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

Richard Young: I know the new album is still a work-in-progress, but what are you most excited for about it at this juncture?

John Mayer: That’s a great question. I’m excited that I have the songs I have already and that it’s such a solid start. I know it’s going to go to that level of all-killer-no-filler because I’ve got the time now to make two separate runs out of it. And that’s what happened with Continuum — and Born and Raised, too, but not as much as Continuum. I think the reason people kind of gravitate (no pun intended) toward Continuum so much is because it really has a distilled essence of creativity throughout it.

One of the disadvantages of being just one guy is that I don’t have four or five other people throwing ideas in. As a solo artist, I’m kind of at the mercy of it just being me and trying to come up with as many interesting ideas as I can. And the way album cycles work, I normally have to do it in six months or so. I can’t get in six months what I can get in 18 months with a six-month break in the middle.

That’s what happened with Continuum. I went on tour with the Trio in the middle of that record and came back and did the other half. 

I’m at that state where I have about six songs I would never take off. And to get those six, I had to write 24 and not even finish them. I’m really excited to take the break from writing now — it’s so good for me because I was probably writing too much. 

When I go back and put the two sides together, I think it’s going to be one of those records that will last for a really long time.

Appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2017
John Mayer’s Undying Bachelor Love

ED: Hey, who's, before I forget, who is the girl on the cover, there's a drawing of a girl, there's you, I saw your drawing.

JM: That's me.

ED: And then, who's that?

JM: That's sort of like, "her," you know what I mean? Sort of the spiritual "her." It's memory, it's fantasy, it's what you wanna se. It's what the brain sees, it's sort of the, it's the other. It's the spiritual sort of other.

ED: It's not somebody that you've seen before?

JM: In my mind.

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

would you say that this album is the hardest one you've worked on yet?

Without a doubt. I wanted something that would represent the absolute best of what I was able to do. No compromises, no expenses spared.

Charlie Rose Interview
Interview from appearance on The Charlie Rose Show

CR: This is so good that you had to release it in stages. Is that basically what happened?

JM: I believe in the songs so much that I thought they deserve to be seen without distraction from either the barrier to entry of so many songs all at once, or other music coming in and sort of—or there being so many songs—songs that aren't that great, a couple of songs that are, and I felt like the boldest thing I could do was say I think I did it and take a look at these four at a time. And the response to it has not only been positive for the work, but positive for the format of releasing music that way. So I was not alone because I'm one-half consumer, one-half artist, and I remember seeing some really great records from great artists come up on, you know, my Spotify or Apple, or whatever it be, and I go, twelve?

CR: Yes.

JM: Because this is a deep dive. Maybe I'll just go for the singles right now. And so I wanted to put music out the way that I myself would want to hear it as somebody on the other end.

CR: Is it hard to get acceptance for albums? I mean, I've had people—musicians come up to me and say what's happened to albums is disgraceful.

JM: Yes. I think I've been known traditionally now as an artist, as an album artist.

CR: Right.

JM: So I think I've probably engendered a little more trust with my audience about making records than maybe other artists have. So I'm okay being a dinosaur in this time, being the guy who makes records. But even then I've sort of broken up the concept of a record. I want to ultimately have a record, but I think what this was was about making it small enough for people to—it's just an easier point of entry into it, but ultimately ends up with a record that has an arc, and we think about sequencing, and we think about the power of serializing one song before the next and the next. That still matters, I feel like. It may not matter now, but I think it may matter again, and what you want to do is sort of future-proof it so that if and when people go back to albums, you never looked frightened.

CR: Yes. The Search For Everything.

JM: Yes.

CR: The title.

JM: Titles come to me and they stop the title searching game. 

[Laughter]

CR: They come to you, not somebody who says—

JM: No, no, they come from me and for some reason it fits, and I didn't have many titles in the bingo cage for this one. And when the search for everything came up in my mind, it sort of immediately cemented and I went, oh, that's going to be hard to beat. And it explained very well looking back now over my career and all these different things that I've done what this really sort of all is. You know, it sums up the music and it sums up also personally for me in terms of my curiosity, that sort of is where I lie.

This [album] is a different dive. This is a dive into being a certain age. I think there is a certain loss in relationship. There's always one relationship loss, I feel like, that takes you with it. You know what I mean? You're not just parting ways with somebody. There's always one that kind of takes you down.

CR: That you lose something.

JM: I lose something.

CR: Right.

JM: Yeah. And this [album] is this idea of being as absolutely beautiful as you can be. Like, look, let whoever, the sort of intelligentsia, rock outlets, and journalists say that it pablum or it's lite or it's bland. I'm going to be as beautiful as can be about being sad. That's kind of what this was. Listening back to this song "Emoji of a Wave" and being like, "that is what this [experience] feels like." Which, as an artist, and a musician, you don't normally get all the time. You come close. You go, "well, we'll get 'em next time. [I've captured] eighty percent of how that feels." There are songs on this record that I listen to and I go, I did it. I'm good enough a musician now to translate one hundred percent how something felt. And that is a possession as an artist that is more valuable than anything you can have.

CR: And what artists can do is not only express how they felt, but say it in a way so that all the fans—it speaks to something they feel but can't express. That's where the connection comes.

JM: Right. That's when people say, "I feel like I'm looking in a mirror," or, "I feel like you said something that I was going through at this exact time in my life."

Interview on World Cafe
Interview with Talia Schlanger on World Cafe (NPR)

I will say one more thing that people don't know about the record. The record started with this poem, and the poem's in the middle — there's a much longer poem that you will see more of in the future, but—

TS: What is it, will you say it?

JM: It says, "How sad it is that time should pass, her majesty the hourglass. We take the sand of bygone years and make mud of it with all our tears. What is now compared to then and will I ever love again? The answer to that question brings the endless search for everything." And the day I stood in a bathroom and I stood there for one hour and I just kept writing, kept writing, kept writing, kept writing — and these little couplets and — and I was like, "Oh, that's the mission statement for this record."

There's this lovely moment that I had in the record where you look at the person, or the thought of the person, and you look at them and you go, "Oh, you can go. This is about me." And a lot of this record is, "You can go," and me going, "Oh, this is about me." And you drop a vase and water and ceramic goes everywhere and you're just like, "You can go — I'll take care of this if you just step out. I'll take care of this." And the theme might sort of be the most triumphant version of that, which is like, "Oh, I'm free to go now." It's not free to go from any one relationship, it's not free to go from any one person — it's free to go from yourself and your old interpretations of yourself that are not true, these old, burned-in habits of thinking, these old, burned-in desires that aren't even your desires — they're not even what you want. They're not even what you need.

Facebook livestream
Fan Q&A following "Love on the Weekend" song premiere

Angel Hernandez says: "John, I see a kind of progression throughout the album. Did you place these songs in a specific order to express something, and if so what is it?"

Good question. I just wanted it to flow. And the record has two parts, and I think each song kind of — I knew where it was going to go on the record. It's not necessarily a story in lyric form, but it is a certain role of the music, so sequencing it took about 10 minutes, because I already knew — okay, I knew "You're Gonna Live Forever in Me" goes at the end, I knew "Still Feel Like Your Man" opens up. That's that sort of a “bracket.” I knew that "Changing," you know, "In the Blood," "Changing," The Search Theme is in the middle, and I knew "Moving On and Getting Over" started sort of side B. I knew Rosie was a late-in-the-record track. I knew that "Roll It On Home" was sort of late. So everything sort of placed itself based on what song that was. And I think it has a nice arc. Although by the time I sequenced it I just probably couldn't hear it one time. I think I’ve listened to it one time since it was mastered, but that's only because I can't fix it anymore, and I'm not interested in hearing it unless I can do something else to it. So I'll have to write more. Although if there was one record that I would listen to theoretically going forward, it would be this record.

Excerpted from Facebook livestream >
It's exactly what a record would be or should be for me at this point in my life. It's not sorry. I know who I am, I know where I stand, it took almost 40 years to get there. That seems right to me. And it's, like, my first record as an adult, maybe. It's my first adult record, I feel like. It's the first record made only to investigate what I can do and investigate how I feel about stuff. It is a very tuned-in record.
Excerpted from Facebook livestream >
May 2017 Twitter Q&A
Twitter Q&A session

Do you feel like you've lived up to your own expectations after making so much music?

Not gonna lie, making this record was the first time I ever had the sensation that I was “doing it.”

Excerpted from May 2017 Twitter Q&A >
Interview from The Bobby Bones Show
The Bobby Bones Show: Episode #75

BB: Same thing with your music. Talk about that for a second. Cause I enjoyed how you put out the songs in waves, meaning I got to enjoy four songs at a time.

JM: Yeah, well as a music listener myself, I was starting to feel the experience of listening to new music change. Where, like, I wasn't listening to records anymore. I was listening to what was thrown at the top of like—if you got Spotify placement or if you got, like, the Apple Music placement, I would listen to those things, I would listen to memes. But I wasn’t really listening to records.

And the records that came out by artists that I love—which sort of like, you’d hear about it for a second, and then it would kind of disappear, and I’d go “that’s a shame.” And then I’d hear the record and be like “this record’s great!” There’s all this great music that’s sort of slipping through the cracks, you know?

And so, I knew how hard that—not just I’d worked—but how hard people around me had worked on this record. It’s not necessarily anymore this endeavor where I’m trying to get my name out there. But when you see people who are staying in the studio longer than I am—and I’m in the studio for hours a day. And the fact that there are people in the studio an hour and a half before me and an hour and a half after me. You want to do it in service to those guys, you know?

And in terms of getting the record out and making sure people see it, and making sure people understand what it is you made, the idea became: what if, the way that television is going to Netflix and everyone is sort of putting the whole season up all at once—what if records just switched places with it? And it was like, take four songs, get used to it, get your head around it. Here’s another four, get used to it. Cause I knew each song was really important. And twelve is a funny number to consume now. You know, like, “hey, I want you to watch twelve of these.” You know what I mean? Someone is like, “You’re going to love that series, but you have to make it through the first six.”

So I wanted to make it a little more easily consumable. And I think it worked in the sense that people felt really familiar with the record by the time we got on the road.

Interview with Steve Jordan
Layin' It Down With Steve Jordan, Part 2

There are songs that are on The Search For Everything that if they were on Continuum people would have been like, still a great record. I use that as a litmus. I go, If "Rosie" were on Continuum that wouldn't have changed the batting average for that record one bit. You know what I mean?

SJ: Absolutely.

JM: [If] "Still Feel Like a Man" were on Continuum it would not have changed the batting average one bit, you know?