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John Mayer on the "Vulgar Relationship" Behind New LP "Battle Studies"

October 27, 2009 7:10 PM ET

John Mayer may not have set out to make a concept album, but as his fourth LP, Battle Studies, developed, he found the songs' war theme oddly appealing. "I was loving the war theme, the battle theme. The militaristic, vulgar, violent side of a relationship on the down slope," he tells Rolling Stone in an exclusive video interview. "The record starts out sort of like the sun is out, then it gets darker. And then the sun comes back out at the end."

Earlier this month, Mayer unveiled the video for the album's first single, "Who Says," which gives fans a raw look at one of his nights out on the town. In our Fall Music Preview, Mayer told Rolling Stone the song's first lyric, "Who says you can't get stoned?" was not about weed but, being "in control of the pleasure in your life," adding that the record — which also features a duet with Taylor Swift — as a whole is "the next step in the story of who I am."

Fans will get to hear that step on November 17th when Battle Studies hits stores, and pre-orders start today. Mayer has also lined up a string of dates to introduce Battle Studies to the world: a gig in New York on the day the record arrives, as well as stops in Toronto and Australia before New Year's Eve shows with RS Breaking Artist Mayer Hawthorne. Mayer also revealed the locations he'll hit on his 2010 Winter Tour:
Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Birmingham, AL
Boston, MA
Calgary, AB
Columbus, OH
Dallas, TX
Denver, CO
Detroit, MI
Edmonton, AB
Grand Rapids, MI
Houston, TX
Kansas City, MO
Los Angeles, CA
Memphis, TN
Milwaukee, WI
Minneapolis, MN
Montreal, QC
Nashville, TN
New York, NY
Oklahoma City, OK
Omaha, NE
Philadelphia, PA
Portland, OR
San Jose, CA
Seattle, WA
St Louis, MO
Toronto, ON
Tulsa, OK
Uncasville, CT
Vancouver, BC
Washington, DC

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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