Jason Mraz, 'Love Is a Four Letter Word': Video Track-By-Track
The universal message that led to Jason Mraz**'s "I'm Yours" being the longest-running Billboard Hot 100 hit ever was one of the biggest inspirations of his newest record. "The success of 'I'm Yours' really woke me up to the power of songwriting and how it can affect many peoples' lives. How words can empower an individual. When I sing that song, I watch audiences turn and sing it to each other. That they're choosing to put those words in their own mouths, and give themselves or their time to someone else and sing 'I'm yours' that they won't hesitate anymore and this is it," he tells Billboard.com. "That was a powerful, powerful experience. I wanted to continue that experience with this album."
And his newest album, "Love Is A Four Letter Word," draws inspiration from this amongst other themes. Despite seemingly falling out of it by calling off his engagement with fellow singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman, Mraz focuses his album on the concept to "celebrate love in a way that all of us strive to be loved and to love well. And love itself is such an extraordinary word that we use for so many things. We put a lot of pressure on that word, as soon as 'love' shows up in a relationship amongst friends, we put a lot more pressure on what that relationship means. But really 'love' shows up through our actions and how we help others and how we serve others."
Yet don't think the fans had nothing to do with this album. In fact, Mraz adds that they played a big role in choosing the final tracks. "I should really give all the credit to my career to fan support," the crooner adds. "I want to know which songs fans can see their own selves in the work. And that's important to me. And then of course being out on tour is the best because you start playing songs and of course the songs immediately end up on YouTube so you get to the next city and you can tell who's been watching and paying attention to the YouTube because people start requesting songs that they're becoming aware of.
So fans, see what you ultimately told Mr. A-Z should make the album as he goes track-by-track on "Love Is A Four Letter Word":
1. "The Freedom Song"
"'The Freedom Song' is the first cover song that I've ever put in on any of my albums. It was written by Luc Reynaud from the band called Luc & the Lovingtons and he wrote this song in the wake of Hurricane Katrina with kids in Baton Rouge in a shelter. I heard this song and I heard the story of this song and was blown away. I immediately started performing it, this was about two years ago, because I felt the themes and the quality of the song really resonated and was in alignment with other songs I was performing. It just felt good. I became good friends with Luke and we toured around a bunch. So when it came time to make this album I just felt like this was a song that deserves to be heard and I know the commercialism of songwriting that I know in the end this song is going to come back and benefit Luke and the communities in which he wrote this song and I think that's really important."
2. "Living In The Moment"
"'Living In The Moment' is, I wanted to create a song that was mantras, it was affirmations. I honestly get my best material from yoga classes. At the end of a class, a teacher will tell you something so simple yet so profound and that sticks with you throughout your day and it shows up with how you interact with others or how you interact with your own tasks. This song was kind of a collection of all that I've been learning the last couple of years that might empower a listener if one should choose to sing it."
3. "The Woman I Love"
"'The Woman I Love' I'd like to dedicate to, wow, you know…I try to keep my music gender neutral, but this is obvious, its called "The Woman I Love," but I'd like to dedicate to the men in the relationships because every so often the woman forgets her own greatness and she goes a little bat shit crazy sometimes. So its up to the other half to love that person back into the person we know them to be. That's basically what this song's about."
4. "I Won't Give Up"
"'I Won't Give Up' was written selfishly. As many of my songs are I write for the purpose of understanding what the hell's going on in my life, my position in the world, processing that lesson and that miracle that I'm learning. Seeing it on the page, proving to myself that I understand the lesson, that I'm applying it to my life, and that I can move on-ultimately it was about, you know, regardless of what happens in this relationship, I don't have to give up on loving this person, or loving myself, or give up on whatever my dreams are. And pardon me while I sneeze…fantastic. Even though its written through the filter of relationships, its not necessarily specific for relationships. For me, the true meaning exists in the bridge saying I don't want to be someone who walks away so easily, I'm here to stay and make a difference. That is for all of us. We all have something that we're fighting for or that we're striving for. Whether we want to coach our soccer team to victory of lose five pounds in a month, whatever it is, there's nothing too small worth fighting for and there's nothing too big worth going after."
"'5/6' came to me from my friend Michael Natter, who's a brilliant guitar player and songwriter who's been playing this lick in 5/6 (sings the lick) for 35 years, he's ben playing it. As long as I've been alive. And maybe even when I was being conceived by my parents is when this idea came to Michael NADAR? Who knows. But Michael's a good friend of mine and we've been playing guitar now for a few years and I noticed he had a lot of these licks and great ideas that had never fully come to fruition. So we joined forces and became a songwriting duo and "5/6" being the first song we wrote together. Just about different ways of being in the world and being loved."
NEXT PAGE: '93 Million Miles,' 'Everything Is Sound' and More
6. "Everything Is Sound"
"'Everything Is Sound' is a song simply about the joy of singing and how in my experience in life, or my perspective in life, is about vibrating at a high frequency. If you look at the world through a microscope, you'll see that everything's vibrating and its that vibration that forms mass and I think that is at the core of everything that we do. This to me, while it's a big sing-a-long pop song, its actually quite a sacred song to me. Just about the joy of singing, making joyful noise."
7. "93 Million Miles"
"93 million miles from the sun is where we live. And 240,000 miles from the moon and that's our geographical location within our solar system. Yet no matter where you are, there you are. And no matter where you are in the planet, you can call that home. I wanted to create a song that acknowledged that home is where the heart is and that's up to you to decide."
8. "Frank D. Fixer"
"Frank D. Fixer is my grandfather, Frank Mraz, he called himself Frank D. Fixer and he had a sign over his workshop that said 'Frank D. Fixer' and it was used as kind of a geographical location or a historical landmark in our hometown. People would say, 'Well I live two miles past Frank D. Fixer' or 'Take a left at Frank D. Fixer' and he fixed farm equipment and appliances and grew his own food or would fix farm equipment in exchange for food from that farmer. And I feel we're back in an age celebrating the do it yourself-er, where reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, repurpose, all those things are as important now as ever and it takes the skills to fix things that will keep us from over consuming to a point where our desires overshadows our needs. I wanted to tribute a man like Frank D. Fixer. By doing so I get to take on his qualities, his strengths become my own."
9. "Who's Thinking About You Now"
"'Who's Thinking About You Now' was written. I'm just kidding. "Who's Thinking About You Now" is a song that I wrote with Eric Hinojosa, who's a former member of my band. He's composed these brilliant compositions and this song existed as an instrumental for a decade. I got a hold of it and I asked him if I could write a story to it. In my opinion it's, well it's a baby-making jam, it's also a throwback the way I used to write when I first started writing where I wouldn't edit myself. I would just let the stream of consciousness occur, just let it flow. Not really striving to reach a chorus or not really following a formula and just let the story unfold naturally. And 'Who's Thinking About You Now' is that musically and thematically."
10. "In Your Hands"
"'In Your Hands' is perhaps my favorite song that I've written. It uses the least amount of words, but yet it paints the biggest pictures in my mind that I've been able to go to as far as where I like to go in romantics. How I see myself in the world with someone else."
11. "Be Honest" featuring Inara George
"I wrote 'Be Honest' when I was in Brazil after spending 10 days down there with phenomenal artists such as Maria Gadu, Milton Nascimento. Watching the way Brazilian musicians approach an instrument, they do with voicings that are much different that we do here in the United States. After ten days down there, I noticed my own style transforming and wrote this song basically about what was going on in my relationship at the time which I felt had no importance whatsoever as long as we were honest with each other and that's basically it. And I had the pleasure of inviting Inara George to come and sing it with me who I think is fantastic."
12. "The World As I See It"
"'The World As I See It' is a remarkable place and its how I choose to see the world. I choose to see myself as part of the whole. That I'm no different than the smallest bird or the biggest mountain, that I'm made up of the same materials as those and this song title and the song itself was inspired by Albert Einstein's memoirs of the same name, 'The World As I See It.' He was a very compassionate man who loved this world unconditionally who opposed politics and policies and felt there was enough revealed through science that proved we are all connected and that we should all tread responsibly and respectfully while we're here."