Singer-songwriter Mason Jennings will be performing at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach on Nov. 13, with his new album, “Always Been,” coming out the day before. He talked with The Point Weekly about “Always Been,” the prevalence of love in his songs and the changes in the music industry.
Point Weekly: In the Bio section of your website, you said the most important part of songwriting was “staying open to the feeling of awe, the feeling of being moved by things.” What things were you moved by to write these new songs?
Mason Jennings: I think I was moved by how intense it is to be growing older. I feel like I’m 38 right now, and I think a bunch of the last couple years of my life have been really weird because, growing up, I didn’t ever expect to be in this position; I don’t know why, but this is kind of like the invisible years . . . Also, just as I get older, people that I know pass away and new babies get born, so the idea of that circle of life, where death and birth are way more prevalent in my life than it was in my twenties.
PW: The subject of love seems to really pervade “Always Been,” especially in “Patti and Robert,” “Dreaming,” “Instrument,” and “Just Try.” As a songwriter, what do you say about love in “Always Been”?
MJ: I guess the word magnetic comes to mind. It just keeps pulling my attention, and maybe at a deep level it’s just feeling like ‘Is love real at all? Is there true love? . . . Is there a higher power that loves us? Or are we alone down here?’ I think deep down, it’s just trying to figure out if I really feel love in my life or if it’s a little more dark than that.
PW: At this point of your life, do you think we are alone or do you think there is something higher?
MJ: I think there probably is something higher. For me, when I really get quiet, when I’m meditating or when I’m in the woods, too many things are too connected; everything feels connected to me in a way that definitely feels like there’s some higher planet work. But I also don’t feel like I have any idea really how it works. The more I have faith in something bigger, maybe at the same time the less I have any idea of how it works in my life.
PW: What do you get from music that you don’t get from literature, films, paintings, and other types of art?
MJ: I feel it more physically. I’ll put on a John Lennon song or a White Stripes song, and sometimes I physically feel like it’ll make me cry instantly or I’ll just feel really a ton of energy coming off it physically.
PW: In this age of independent music, how do you see music changing? Is it becoming more rare to be a full-time musician?
MJ: For me, it’s really changed because I travel mostly solo now, whereas in the past, I’d travel with a band. The recording part of the business was like half of how I made my money, half of it was through records and half of it was through live music, and now it’s almost a hundred percent of the live show business-end . . . [Music is] really changing in a good way. It’s making it accessible so the people that might not have had a chance to make these recordings [can] get them out to the world. These are all great artists. They’re going to be able to get music out there. I think that’s really cool.