“Well you made me, you bet I felt it. I tried to be cool but…”
Jthere’s no shame in admitting that the lyrics to “I’m Yours” instantly fill your head all these years later. For one, it’s the most-streamed song by a solo artist from 2000 to 2009. Second, it still lives on in our heads because of its warm sentiment and catchy simplicity. Jason Mraz will be at the Hayden Homes Amphitheater on Friday, where the singer will perform his first-ever Bend show. Mraz thinks he may have played here before, but he doesn’t 100% remember it, and I can’t find anything that says he 100% did either. Anyway, it’s the first time in a long time.
While “I’m Yours” might be the pinnacle of Mraz’s love songs in terms of numbers, it has a whole catalog of other love songs that are also massive hits. It makes sense, then, that he created a compilation album of his favorites called “Lalalalovesongs” this year, featuring iconic Mraz numbers like “I Won’t Give Up,” his duet with Colbie Caillat, “Lucky,” and “You and Me both.” Thinking back to those songs was a wild ride for Mraz.
“It was pretty high. It was sort of billed as a greatest hit and I was like wait a minute…am I old?” Mraz laughs.
Some of the songs in the lineup are actually deep cuts that Mraz was thrilled to breathe new life into with this release. There’s also an unreleased bonus song on the digital release called “Always Looking For You” that didn’t quite match his 2018 album “Know,” but was able to find a home here.
“I actually forgot about it. If I remembered it soon enough, it would have been on the vinyl. I’m glad it came out. It’s a sweet little song. Similar to others I ‘ve written and maybe that’s why I’ve held on to it in the past because I was looking to evolve.”
Mraz notes Damien Rice’s “O” and Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago” as good examples of work he admires when it comes to music about love. With so many of his under his belt, I asked Mraz what makes a good love song. The first thing he said was the truth.
“When you hear a good love song, you can say it. Like, ‘wow…Phil Collins was really going through some shit, man,'” Mraz says. “Really make sure the truth is the genesis of the song. You can be smart all day and really create a love song, but for it to work it has to come from a spontaneous place of truth and emergency.”
Mraz’s way of talking about the human connection to music makes it all so simple and easy. He understands the power of emotion. He knows this because that is what he is looking for in music as a listener. It’s a big reason his writing helped launch such a successful career.
That career really hit its stride with the release of her debut album, “Waiting for My Rocket to Come,” which turns 20 in October. Next, Mraz says his ambitions were much different and more aligned with someone in their twenties. He wanted to be cool, smoke cigarettes and have fun on tour. He’s a far cry from the version of himself today who does a lot of humanitarian and environmental work. The notoriety and speed of the industry was an unexpected challenge for his younger self, who was just a singer making a name for himself at cafes like Java Joes in San Diego.
“I kind of went with the flow. I trusted the musicians around me. I trusted my manager. I trusted the enthusiasm of the label. But I have to admit man, I was so scared, but I didn’t have time to be scared because our schedule was so full,” he says.
The song that really helped Mraz’s debut take off was “The Remedy”. Not only was it the first Mraz song that myself and many others have heard, but it reached #15 on the Hot 100 and was one of the biggest songs of the year. It also opened a door full of insane opportunities.
“The most important thing is that it kept us on the road. When we started we were an opening act and when that song took off we started getting into bigger clubs and theaters, and backing bigger bands. [We were] On tour with the Dave Matthews Band. We had to open for the Stones a few times,” says Mraz. “We eventually went from a van to a tour bus. But at the same time, we were just reckless. It was a party. Which is the complete opposite of what we are today. Because sustainability is about taking care of yourself and your environment. And 20 years ago, I didn’t think about it at all. I even smoked during the show! Which is crazy.
All jokes aside about his early days in the industry, Mraz reiterates how blessed he feels to have had a past life of which “The Remedy” was a big part. Yet even with that success that happened two decades ago, Mraz has managed to find success all these years later.
“You know, my manager told me you’ll be lucky if you get 10. That’s average. And that kind of bet [in my head] like, ‘Okay. Let’s have fun but also keep working. Keep showing up and keep trying to write great songs,” Mraz recalled. “I was 28 and had been writing songs for about 10 years when I wrote ‘I’m Yours’. And then I released it a few years later. Which brought the machine back to life. C was bananas. So it saved me another 10 years. I was really lucky.
Mraz’s luck didn’t stop there. He won Grammys for “Make It Mine” and “Lucky” the following year in 2009. Then in 2012 he released “I Won’t Give Up” which debuted at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. Since then, he has released three more studio albums. With his ability to craft witty, straightforward songs that hit home with their relatability, it’s no wonder the hits just kept coming. So what is Mraz writing about at this point in his career? What inspires him?
“The guideline is optimism. Especially in this world we live in where we feel like we are going backwards in many ways. As technology advances, there are other things in civil and social situations that just going backwards. And at the same time, I’m getting older,” he says. “So I’m trying to stay optimistic about all these different things and not having, say, a midlife crisis, but I’m definitely going through, you know, get there. So that’s what my songs reflect. A new perspective with the same familiar optimism.
Mraz will be joined by Raining Jane in Bend and throughout her summer tour. The friends are also turning into collaborators this year, because after the tour, Mraz says they will all be heading to the studio together to work on his next album. About a third of his set will be unreleased material, so we’re all in for a treat.
Jason Mraz and Raining Jane
Fri, Jul 8, 6:30 p.m.
Hayden Homes Amphitheater
344 SW Shevlin-Hixon Drive, Bend