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Q&A: John Mayer on His New Voice, Summer Tour and Dating Katy Perry

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What new music are you into?
Um, I had an M83 moment this summer, which was really cool. But I'm not plugged in like I used to be, you know. I love Frank [Ocean]'s stuff. Frank is such an interesting, deep, touched, wonderful guy. They don't make a lot of other Frank Oceans, and the guy is looking for another. And the way that his mind works is craving the same frequency that he's able to communicate on, and I think he's just searching for that kind of depth that he has inside of himself in someone else. He's fascinating to me. He's so great.

It's pretty incredible how open he is about everything and how receptive people are.
Yeah. I think it has more to do with just being that expressive about anything in this day and age, and the depth of his writing. I think it's as much about taking a stand against being fucking boring as it is about sexuality. It's about standing up and going, "I know what you're going to say about this, and I don't care." And I think that was the heroic part. I know there were parts that were heroic for other people. For me, it's just the heroic self-expression. You don't even need publicists anymore – people are just as scared for themselves as the publicists would be.

Because they can say anything at any time without having to go through any certain channels?
No, I'm saying that we're all as freaked out as the publicists would be. Everyone is self-PRing. We're all worried to express ourselves, because we are scared of the imminent criticism as we are typing. And I think for a guy to express any idea with that kind of bravery, a guy writing without caring what you think . . . What's fascinating to me is not as much what he's expressing – it's that he chose to just make an expression one time, deeply, honestly. I feel like Jodie Foster is the same thing. They're just like, "Here's what I want to say, and I'm not interested in what the response to this is going to be. It's important that I express it."

And I think that's where we need to get to again, where 85 percent of the importance lies in the expression of it and that's all. And that's very interesting to me. And for someone like myself who's definitely gone to a place where I abuse that ability to express myself to the point where I was expressing things that weren't true, that weren't even my thoughts, that were so free-association . . . it's cool to see somebody stand up for what they think. Fuck what you believe – stand up for what you think at any given moment, you know what I mean? And that's what makes it really interesting.

John Mayer Jams With Frank Ocean in 'Pyramids' Video

Are we going to hear from you more?
I try, you know, I try. My problem is that as soon as an idea of mine that's in my head, in a very safe place, sort of hits the oxygen, I immediately begin criticizing it in the voice of other people. And I need to stop doing it. I'm nowhere near as brave as I was saying Frank is. With Frank, there's a sincerity to it.  And I need to sort of get back . . . I haven't really expressed any ideas. I'm dealing with expressing ideas to you for the first time, going, "Look, print it however you want to print it." The difference here is that the things that I'm saying are true to how I feel.

What big ideas haven't you shared with me yet?
Oh, I don't know. But I also don't really care that much about what I think anymore. I'm not that interested in my own opinions anymore.

What do you mean?
I'm interested in living more of a life that's invisible to everybody and more vibrant to a fewer people that are in my life. I don't need everybody to think a certain thing that I wish they would think. I'm out of that game. And I think 35's a great time. You investigate yourself, you know there are things that aren't growing correctly, or serving you as you get older, and you break yourself down in a period of time. I'm actually lucky that I didn't have to do that while I was on the road. I had a couple years off, and you deconstruct yourself. It's very painful, and when you reconstruct yourself, you kind of have a fresh outlook on the next 20 years of your life.

Where do you want to be in 20 years?
Just playing, putting out records, having a good life, and letting other people take the ride I took.

Do you want to get married?
I want to live a very traditional life with a very untraditional day job. You know what I mean?

Will you get back to stand-up comedy any time soon?
No, no. I'll just make my funny friend laugh, that's enough for me. Making my funny friends laugh is all I actually really wanted. I just didn't realize it. You go, "This guy wrote Ghostbusters III and he's laughing at what I said!"

When does the tour start?
Oh, I don't know. You'll find out dates before I do.

Well, I appreciate you taking the time to talk. It's good to hear from you again.
Thanks, man. Be kind to me.

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Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

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