A Conversation with Jason Mraz – HuffPost 4.20.12

Mike Ragogna: How are you doing, Jason?

Jason Mraz: I’m good, Mike!

MR: Nice. Your new album is called Love Is a Four Letter Word, and it does seem that every song on this project has something to do with an angle that brings you back to the bigger point, which is about love.

JM: Absolutely, absolutely. You got it. Thank you for hearing that in the music. You know, I’m not trying to throw it in peoples’ faces. I’m trying to just lay it out there for it to be easily received. And always, my overall mission is just to transform someone’s moment, maybe someone’s day, or at the very best, someone’s life, and just shift the attention back to love because it’s always there. We just have to choose to see it or not.

MR: Yeah. Jason, that’s so wise. Let’s talk about the single “I Won’t Give Up.” It’s like, “Okay, we need to go through our crazy stuff or growing stuff or whatever it is, but I still love you,” and I think sometimes, we really all forget about that because we’re so wrapped up in our own thing.

JM: We are. And also we get so wrapped up in the other person that we want to possess them and own them, and we get nervous about what they might do without us, so it really is about unconditional love. No matter what happens, I’m not going to change my thoughts about you. It’s a big lesson, and it took me a long time to learn it. That song was my learning of the lesson and being able to put it down on the page and be able to sing night after night. Yes, I understand this now, and I’m ready to apply it to all relationships, especially the one I have with myself.

MR: Beautiful. And while we’re on that subject, “The Woman I Love,” the song right before that on the album, you point out how there are things that annoy us about each other, but you’re still the woman I love. I’m not going to bail on you.

JM: Right on, yeah. Yeah, you know what? Sometimes, obviously, anybody can annoy you, you know? Anybody can shift their attitude in one direction. And also, it’s like sometimes our better halves can forget their own greatness. They can become annoyed by us, or they can become annoyed in life. So it’s up to us to love them back into being the person we know them to be, you know what I mean? And we all usually do a pretty good job with this. You know, if somebody you love tries and fails at something, you don’t stop loving them. You applaud them and you pick them back up. You hope that they’d do the same for you.

MR: Beautifully said. Let’s go to “Living In The Moment.” Here, we have a happy, whistling Mraz, and nope, you’re not going to worry about things that won’t happen. You’re living your life, you’re living easy, and dare I say, breezy too.

JM: That’s it, man! A lot of the words in that song are really the mantra that keeps me up. I don’t fart rainbows. I’m not in a constant state of happiness and bliss. But it is a practice, and I try to be careful with my thoughts and my words. It always brings me back around to the present. It’s basically gratitude, saying thank you for all things–the good and the bad. Just live right here in the moment. Forget your past, forget the future. It’s not written yet. And right now, talking about it feels like I’m going on and on too long, trying to figure it out. Really, there’s no figuring to living in the moment. The whole point is to not figure it out and not think, and to just be.

MR: Very nice. There’s a freedom to that as well.

JM: Absolutely, which is why the whole album kicks off with “The Freedom Song.” I wanted to wipe the slate clean right at the very beginning of the album. It’s whatever happens, happens. You don’t have to make yourself wrong or anything, just enjoy being here while you can and celebrate yourself and your fellow man. Freedom is a state of mind.

MR: Hey, one of my favorite lyrics comes from the song “5/6,” and I love how you play with the rhythm a little on that one. Is that in 5/6, by the way? I haven’t tapped it out yet. (laughs)

JM: Yeah, it’s 5/8-6/8-5/8-6/8. It alternates back and forth.

MR: As far as the timing and how the shifts happen, it’s like jazzy reggae.

JM: Yeah, I love that. Thank you.

MR: And also it has my favorite line of the album on there. “Are you dancing with your partners or are you pushing them around?” I think we do forget sometimes the control thing, like you mentioned earlier.

JM: Yeah, man. Life is a dance, you know? Just sometimes we’ll lead, sometimes your partner leads, and you just have to accept the ebb and flow. Just like standing at the seashore. You have to dance with the waves, otherwise the waves are going to gobble you up. So dance with your partner.

MR: You got it. Dance with your partner. Jason, what’s got your eye recently in the news, or is there something interesting to you lately that you’ve just gotten into?

JM: Well, I’ve gotten into trying to offset my car, and I became incredibly confronted by how much I travel and how much I contribute to global warming through my flying and what not. You know, one of the last things I read in the news was how in the last 17 years, The Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica has decreased in size by 85%. Antarctica holds 90% of the world’s ice, and if that place melts rapidly, our sea levels rise, and that increases the amount of coastal floods and storm surges, and the possibility of drinking water for millions of people becoming contaminated with salt water. I think the biggest threat we face with global warming is how the planet is going to change and affect our food system, which is really what supports us here on the planet. I’ve been honestly doing everything I can at home to reduce my emissions and live carbon neutral and sustainably. Then also on our tours, we’re looking into everything we can to get on bio fuels, and we’re starting to plant trees all over the world. So everywhere we stop on tour, we’re going to be planting trees, and that’ll be something. We can watch these trees grow year after year and add more trees as we do that. I felt I needed to be doing something to take responsibility for how much carbon I emit just through my job.

MR: Right. But it’s very hard, I think, for most people. Everybody wants to do something, but it seems that it’s confusing as far as what the first step is. It’s like how do you make that first step into it, you know?

JM: Yeah. You just have to start with your daily dues. How are you consuming your food and beverage? I think looking at our food and beverages is the most important because that’s something we all do, no matter where you live and what you do for a living. And so it’s important that you keep your own water bottle with you, your own coffee cup, so that way you’re not accepting one-time use plastics and papers. You’re really being considerate of how much you actually collect and throw away. If you go to foreign countries that have been around for hundreds of years, you’ll find that they are already living this way. They don’t have the space or the energy to build landfills the way we do in the United States. So you start with yourself. Ask yourself where your food comes from, what’s it made of, and all that stuff does trickle down through the process. That old saying, “Vote with your dollar,” really is true. Every time you go Starbucks, you can either have your own cup, or your own water bottle and get a refill from them, or you can collect another single use plastic water bottle and another paper cup and just contribute more to the problem. So I think the first step is really starting with your own self and your own responsibility.

MR: Beautiful. Oh, have to ask…your song “93 Million Miles” is, of course, the distance from Earth to the sun, right?

JM: That’s it!

MR: Yeah. I love how in the song, your parents tell you that wherever you go, you can always come home. And also, you bring in the concept of, “Home is within you. No matter where you go you can always get back home.”

JM: Absolutely, man. Home is a state of mind. I think our parents gave us a great version of it, and the homes that we build with our families create a safe place for us. But really, it’s creating a feeling that makes you feel safe. No matter where you are on the planet, you can recreate that feeling. When you go camping, you can feel at home. If you’re backpacking around the world, you can always feel at home because it really is how you feel inside and how you choose to feel at peace. It’s right where you are, and again, it goes back to living in the moment.

MR: Nice. I always ask you this, but what do you think about advice for new artists? There’s always a good answer from you.

JM: Oh man, be yourself. Be the artist that you were born to be. Don’t be anybody else. Obviously, you can be easily influenced by other artists. I think in one conversation with another artist, you can easily adapt and become a part of them. But I think that we’re all born into this world under our own unique circumstances. We all have our own stories to tell, and by being authentic, you let yourself be seen by others in a way that they can see themselves or that they can see someone else. It’s harder for other people to see the real you, you know what I mean? I just say go for it.

MR: Any parting words of wisdom?

JM: Just keep your head up and keep it pointed towards the sun. I think you’re doing a great thing there at Solar-Powered KRUU-FM.

MR: Thank you so much, Jason. Thanks for your time and good thoughts, and all the best with the new record, which is Love Is a Four Letter Word.

JM: Awesome. Thank you!

Transcribed by Kyle Pongan

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