(Soundbite from Jason Mraz's MySpace page)
Mr. JASON MRAZ: (Singing) This is the theme music to my MySpace, MySpace, MySpace.
ALISON STEWART, host:
That's Jason Mraz singing his own composition, his own MySpace theme song, which you hear if you log on to his MySpace page. On that page, you'll also find out that Jason is on the verge of letting loose a new release called "We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things." But first, he's releasing three EPs piece by piece with acoustic demos of the songs. "We Sing" hit March 18th.
The EP "We Dance" came out yesterday, and "We Steal Things" comes out May 13th, along with the full-fledged album. It's his full first - his first full-length release in three years since his top ten album, "Mr. A-Z," which - of course, his 2002 platinum debut featuring that catchy "Remedy" hit. Jason stopped by our studios yesterday to talk music, website philosophy, and to freestyle a tune or two.
You had a really busy stretch of life and work, if you look back on the past six or seven years, and you just took a big chunk of time off.
Mr. MRAZ: I did take some time off, yeah.
STEWART: Where'd you go? What'd you do?
Mr. MRAZ: Well, first, I just went home, because I did buy a house about five years ago, but the first three years of it I was on the road. So, I finally unpacked and I got a cat and I started going to the grocery store often and cooking all my own meals and surfing every day. Then I started taking some personal travel time. I spent two summers backpacking around Europe, which is something I always wanted to do. I went to India.
Mr. MRAZ: Yeah, I just took some "me time," you know? I wanted to book my own hotel reservations, and see if I could get from place to place on my own, you know.
STEWART: Why was that important to you? Had you kind of - had the pendulum swung so far the other way?
Mr. MRAZ: Yeah, it certainly had, you know, and when I had made my second album, those songs were written in hotel rooms and on airplanes and buses, and you know, I was writing about those experiences, sure, but I didn't want to write about those experiences again for a third record. I wanted to see who I was, who I was growing up to be.
STEWART: As you took the break did you continue to write? Or did you have to be a little disciplined and say, you know what? No writing, just getting kitty litter for - what's your cat's name?
Mr. MRAZ: Right, for Holmes.
STEWART: For Holmes.
Mr. MRAZ: Yeah. No, I wrote a lot. I wrote a lot. I actually play a songwriting game with a couple of friends, which always keeps us writing.
STEWART: I love the games that you play, these songwriting games. One is called - it's called "I like."
Mr. MRAZ: Well, "I like" is definitely one that we've definitely just recently exploited for sure. "I like" is a great game. You know, it's just a series of chords that go down and you start your phrase with I like, and then you have to surprise somebody by telling them what you like, and then you have to rap about it for a couple of bars.
STEWART: Can you do one real quick? I like...
Mr. MRAZ: Sure, I can definitely try. Let's see.
(Soundbite of guitar strumming)
Mr. MRAZ: (Singing) So I could take it so far and go like, I like NPR. It's the radio station that is going to take me far. Yes, the satellite signal shooting up to the stars. It goes like this broadcast into the cars. Singing I like.
You know, something like that.
STEWART: I like that.
Mr. MRAZ: Yeah, OK, cool.
STEWART: The first single is "I'm Yours."
Mr. MRAZ: Yes.
STEWART: Now, that might be familiar to some fans. You've been playing it for awhile, right?
Mr. MRAZ: Yeah, I've actually been playing it for about three years, and then the last summer I noticed that it was really the song that everyone wanted to hear the most. I was like, wow! And so I decided I was going to put it on the next record.
To a lot of hardcore fans are like, this song isn't new, but I wanted to give it a proper recording. I wanted to give it a proper home, and because of its groovy positive vibe and it being the foundation of the new record, it allowed me to add and write brother and sister songs to "I'm Yours," to make it a nice happy and positive record.
STEWART: Well, let's hear "I'm Yours" from Jason Mraz.
(Soundbite of song "I'm Yours")
Mr. MRAZ: (Singing) Well, you done, done me and you bet I felt it. I tried to be chill but you're so hot that I melt. I fell right through the cracks, And now I'm trying to get back, Before the cool done run out.
I'll be giving it my bestest. Nothing's going to stop me but divine intervention. I reckon it's again my turn to win some or learn some, But I won't hesitate no more, no more.
It cannot wait. I'm yours. Well, open up your mind and see like me. Open up your plans, and man, you're free, Look into your heart and you'll find love, love, love, love.
Listen to the music of the moment People dance and sing We're just one big family, And it's our God-intended right to be loved, love, loved, love, love.
So I won't hesitate no more, no more. It cannot wait, I'm sure. There's no need to complicate. Our time is short. This is our fate, I'm yours.
I've been spending way too long checking my tongue in the mirror, And bending over backwards just to try to see it clearer, But my breath fogged up the glass, And so I drew a new face and I laughed.
I guess what I be saying is there ain't no better reason, To rid yourself of vanity and just go with the seasons. It's what we aim to do. Our name is our virtue.
But I won't hesitate no more, no more. It cannot wait, I'm sure. There's no need to complicate. Our time is short. This is our fate. I'm yours.
Well, no, no, well, open up your mind and see like me. Open up your plans, and damn, you're free. Look into your heart and you'll find love, love, love, love. Listen to the music of the moment come and dance with me, A la one big family. It's your God-forsaken right to be loved, love, love, love.
I won't hesitate no more. Oh, no more, no more, no more. It's your God-forsaken right to be loved, I'm sure, There's no need to complicate. Our time is short. This is our fate. I'm yours.
No, I won't hesitate no more, no more. This cannot wait, I'm sure. There's no need to complicate. Our time is short. This is our fate. I'm yours. I'm yours.
STEWART: Jason Mraz is in studio. The name of that song is "I'm Yours." Doing research about you is really, really fun because you have such an interactive online life. When you log onto your website, you are greeted nicely, or you might hear a little tune or a little something like this.
(Soundbite of website www.jasonmraz.com)
Mr. MRAZ: I think you should be reading this website out loud so that if you're sitting in a coffee shop, other people will find out all the news.
This is the tour page, tour page, it's all the rage. That was weird.
STEWART: There's just all these great little audio messages that you send us.
Mr. MRAZ: Yeah.
STEWART: Why have you decided to have such an active interactive online life?
Mr. MRAZ: I've always used - online life is what gave me my career. It really was. I mean, I certainly did start in the coffee shops of San Diego playing music. I made my own little CDs there, but I made them available for sale on my website. And that's when I started sending things out all over the country, all over the world, and realizing that OK, there's a growing community out here and I wanted to keep in touch with all those folks, and I always used blogging as that tool to connect with folks.
I've been blogging since it's - longer than it's been called blogging, I guess. Since about 2002, I've been writing on my website now, you know. On my very first tour, I stopped in I think it was Lincoln, Nebraska. I'd never been there before, and maybe like 600 people showed up. Packed this tiny, tiny bar, and everybody sang every word, and I was like all right, I know I haven't sold 600 CDs in Lincoln, Nebraska. This was my first realization that this is the Internet in action.
Mr. MRAZ: Full force. And from then on it was, I'm in, I'm playing this game. I'm going to communicate with these folks. I'm going to sneak stuff out. I'm going to allow taping at my shows, all of the above because really the power of the Internet gave - made my voice a lot louder, you know?
STEWART: Well, I'm going to give you artist's choice for another song to play. Whatever you want.
Mr. MRAZ: OK, great. Let me think here. This is a song off my first record, "Waiting for My Rocket to Come." It's probably my favorite song, but I haven't visited it in awhile. It's called "The Boy's Gone."
(Soundbite of song "The Boy's Gone")
Mr. MRAZ: (Singing) The boy's gone. The boy's gone home. The boy's gone. The boy's gone home.
What will happen to a face in the crowd when it finally gets too crowded? And what will happen to the origins of sound after all the sounds have sounded?
Well, I hope I never have to see that day, but by god, I know it's headed our way. So I better be happy now that the boy's going home. The boy's gone home.
And what becomes of a day for those who rage against it? And who will sum up the phrase for all left standing around in it?
Well, I suppose we'll all make our judgment calls, We'll walk it alone, stand up tall, then march to the fall, So we better be happy now that we'll all go home, That we'll all go home.
Be so happy with the way you are, Just be happy that you made it this far, Go on be happy now. Please be happy now.
Because you say that this, this is something else. I say that this, this is something else. I say that this, oh, this is something, this is something else.
Well, I tried to live my life and lived it so well. But when it's all over is it heaven or is it hell? So I better be happy now that no one can tell, nobody knows.
I'm gonna be happy with the way that I am. I'm gonna be happy with all that I stand for. I'm gonna be happy now because the boy's going home.
The boy's gone home. Yeah, the boy's gone home. Yeah, the boy's gone home. Yeah, the boy's gone home.
STEWART: That was Jason Mraz performing live in our studios. He is currently on tour, but you know what? We did get a video of him doing that performance. We'll put it up on our - the video on our website, npr.org/bryantpark.