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John Mayer at ease with 'Heavier Things'

John Mayer
John Mayer

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(CNN) -- Despite a year of whirlwind success, John Mayer says he's mellowing.

The American singer/songwriter's second major label album, "Heavier Things," hit the Billboard album chart at No. 1 in September, seven months after he picked up a Grammy for best male pop vocal performance for "Your Body is a Wonderland," off the album "Room for Squares."

"Now that I've gotten to express myself to a certain extent, I find myself a little more calm or mellow, and I think that's come out in the music," Mayer told TMR.

Mayer puts his life into play on "Heavier Things," but he's not afraid of the personal exposure.

"They're the most personal songs in the world, and they're the most anonymous songs in the world because that's what music does. It's your diplomatic immunity," he said.

Mayer sat down with TMR recently to talk about the record and how it fits into his evolving career.

TMR: Tell me the significance of the title "Heavier Things."

MAYER: In terms of the significance of the title -- it's more of the insignificance of the title that makes it what it is. ... When it came time to title the record, I had expanded myself so much, and I had put down everything that I wanted to put down on tape. And then it was like, 'Ok, now it's time to title the record.' What do you call it? What do you call a record that you put everything down on, and feels right for the -- you know, it's not my lifelong masterpiece, it's my next statement.

So there's nothing I want to title it that's gonna be big and bold and have a crown on top of it. So I like the word "things." I think it's completely nondescript and dumb, it's kind of blunt, you know? I think in the way that the cover appears "Heavier Things" is the most inarticulate way that you can describe the record. For some reason -- I can't explain yet -- it fits perfectly.

TMR: Tell me the name of the first single and what it's about.

MAYER: "Bigger Than My Body" is the first single and it's more about a feeling [than] about an experience. It's this feeling that ironically I had when writing, when trying to get this song out on paper, of trying to get something out of yourself that you want to be, and not being able to get there.

And it's kind of like the first single from the first record, "No Such Thing," but it's a little less sarcastic. In fact, it's not sarcastic at all. It's just pure want. And again, there's a case to be made that that pure want is behind "No Such Thing," but "No Such Thing" is trying to be clever, you know? That's the behavioral articulation of what that feeling really is, which is that I just want to be more.

TMR: Do you ever think that you wear your heart on your sleeve a little bit too much?

MAYER: Right. I don't know. I think my friends and colleagues will tell you that I don't know the phrase: 'I don't need to share this.' (laughs) It feels ok, it feels ok. And there's a certain immunity in writing a song about it, which is why people write songs. There's a certain invincibility you have when you stand behind the shield of a melody.

I don't know, for whatever reason that works. I don't know why I have to explain myself in words again after. ... It's like, you write a song because it's the best way that you can explain yourself. And then you sit down after the song is done and you're spent, and people go, 'Explain that song to me.' You know, I don't know, it's kind of like working upstream to get an effect.

TMR: Tell us about "Clarity."

MAYER: "Clarity" is a song that I've wanted to write since the end of "Room for Squares." It was a piece of a melody that I had come up with, and I knew it was interesting. I knew it was important. That is the closest you'll ever come to knowing me. If you're like, 'Oh I want to read an interview and find out what John's astrological sign is, or does he like puppies or kittens?'

All you have to do is listen to "Clarity," and you will learn so much about me in the struggle for comfort. It's the way that I think. It's even weird to be sitting under the hot light of a camera and talk about that.

TMR: Do you have to have faith in your creative flow -- that it's always going to be there?

MAYER: You have to. You have to, at some point, say 'This has nothing to do with luck. This is not an accident.' And that's more information for my brain than I think it is for yours because I think when I say that it could be easily construed as arrogant. But it really is part of the process of saying that I'm going to stop treating each song as like the last little dollop of toothpaste that I can get out of this tube, and start seeing myself as -- for whatever reason, I can do it.


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