When John Mayer premiered his new single "Who Says" (the lead single from his forthcoming album Battle Studies), it appeared on the surface to be a simple ode to hanging out by yourself and getting high. But as Mayer told MTV's Tim Kash, the track is meant to make you reconsider its meaning several times.
"It sort of plays with your perception a little bit," Mayer said. "It starts out and it's like, 'Oh, is he being campy? Is he exploiting something?' But if you stay with the song long enough, then you start to realize that it's not about marijuana. It's actually about freedom and living your life."
Mayer told Kash that the tone that takes over later on in the song helps to broaden the meaning. "It starts out where you go, 'Oh, I get it, you're going to be like the male Amy Winehouse here.' But then it gets sweet, and the sweetness takes over and you begin to trust the message." He never intended to make a song that was provocative for the sake of being provocative — in fact, that's something he tries to avoid. "People don't like things that are purposefully shocking. They start to feel abused by it," he said.
He has faith that his message will get through, provided that listeners invest the necessary time to the track. "By the time the solo kicks in, you think 'Okay, I think this guy might be from the heart right now,' and by the last chorus you're like, 'Okay, I get it.'"