Musician Jason Mraz on the songwriting process for his tune "Love for a Child":
An excerpt from our cover story on Mraz, a Mechanicsville native, in the September 2009 issue:
When Jason Mraz first drove off to California in 1999, according to a 2003 interview in Rolling Stone, he kept in mind what a palm reader in Central Park once told him: Stop questioning, start experiencing.
He ended up in San Francisco, where he visited an ex-girlfriend who happened to be dating a friend of concert promoter Bill Silva. That connection got him a chance to play a song for Silva, who was in Las Vegas doing shows with Billy Joel and Alanis Morrisette. Silva remembers listening to Mraz for the first time on April 2, 1999, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. He didn't know what to expect. "It was the great unknown," he says. "There is no question that he blew me away."
It was Mraz's "angelic" voice that struck Silva, who remains his manager today. "He had the conviction of somebody who was wise beyond his years. There's a spirit that moves through this man. I remember thinking to myself, ‘I don't know if this is God talking to me, but I should really listen.' "
Silva and music agent Marty Diamond, the founder of Little Big Man Booking, which has represented artists such as Coldplay and Avril Lavigne, suggested that Mraz move to San Diego. "We figured in the short term this was a way to get him up and running," Silva says. "The coffeehouse scene was robust and vibrant. Singer/songwriter Jewel came out of there. It was the right place at the right time for him to hone his craft."
For nearly three years, Mraz had a Thursday-night gig at Java Joe's, building a band and a following throughout San Diego and on the Internet. In March 2002, Mraz signed with Elektra records and released his first studio album that year including "Remedy (I Won't Worry)," a track he co-wrote with well-known songwriting team the Matrix.
The inspiration for "Remedy" was Mraz's high-school friend Charlie Mingroni, who was dealing with Ewing's sarcoma cancer. "He found out Charlie had cancer about the time he moved to San Diego," recalls Tomes. "He couldn't believe so many good things were happening for him and Charlie was going through such a rough time." The fireworks Mraz saw when he was driving to California reminded him of his friend, whose birthday is on the Fourth of July. The thought appeared in the first lines of the hit.
Mingroni remembers the first time he heard the lyrics. He was getting chemotherapy and shivering even though he was under several blankets. "The song lit me up like I was on fire," he says. "I was so impressed. I felt so good about life."
Mraz has never mentioned to his friend (who is now cancer-free) that the song was about him, nor has Mingroni ever mentioned to Mraz that he knows the song's origin. "We've been best friends for 15 years, and there are some things that just aren't spoken," Mingroni says. "You don't have to speak, you just have to know."
Rick Alvey knows. Alvey is the owner of Mechanicsville Music, where Mraz purchased his first guitar — a red Washburn — before leaving for New York City. The two have remained friends ever since. Alvey has a replica of Mraz's gold album for Waiting for My Rocket to Come in his store. Mraz sent it to him shortly after receiving the original. "Jason hasn't changed over the years," Alvey says. "He's special, and he makes you feel special by being around him."