This largely acoustic ballad is a poignant ode to a long-lasting relationship, which Mraz says he won't give up on her whatever happens. "Well, I won't give up on us/Even if the skies get rough/I'm giving you all my love/I'm still looking up," he sings. The song was released on January 3, 2012 on iTunes.
It is likely that the song was inspired by Mraz's relationship with singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman. The I'm Yours
singer got engaged with Prettyman in December 2010 after they'd dated for four years, before breaking up with her several months later.
The song is guitar led with some additional vocal landscapes towards the end of the song. Mraz told Billboard magazine: "That, to me, has always been my favorite part of making music; the singing and what voices can do and the voices singing in harmony."
The track debuted with 229,000 downloads sold in its first week, landing at #8 on the Hot 100. The song's launch was the highest for a male pop/rock singer-songwriter since David Cook arrived at #3 with "The Time of My Life
" after he was crowned American Idol
champion on May 21, 2008.
After the success of "I'm Yours
," Mraz devoted much of his time to various charitable pursuits including helping with efforts to clean the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and fighting child slavery in Ghana alongside the non profit Free the Slaves. In between his activist outings, Mraz wrote and recorded his Love Is a Four Letter Word
album, including this ode to making a difference. He told Billboard
magazine that he wants to use the power "I'm Yours" gave him to fuel positive change. "Thanks to 'I'm Yours,' I'm probably set for a really long time," he said. "The pressure I put on myself, or what I hope my 'I Won't Give Up' does, is to make a difference in people's lives."
According to Mraz, he wrote the song "selfishly." He explained why he feels this way to Billboard magazine: "As many of my songs are, I write for the purpose of understanding what the hell's going on in my life, my position in the world, processing that lesson and that miracle that I'm learning," said Mraz. "Seeing it on the page, proving to myself that I understand the lesson, that I'm applying it to my life, and that I can move on. Ultimately it was about, you know, regardless of what happens in this relationship, I don't have to give up on loving this person, or loving myself, or give up on whatever my dreams are. Even though it's written through the filter of relationships, it's not necessarily specific for relationships. For me, the true meaning exists in the bridge saying 'I don't want to be someone who walks away so easily, I'm here to stay and make a difference.' That is for all of us. We all have something that we're fighting for or that we're striving for. Whether we want to coach our soccer team to victory or lose five pounds in a month, whatever it is, there's nothing too small worth fighting for and there's nothing too big worth going after."
The song's success surprised Mraz and his people. "We were going to release an acoustic version of that song - it was really meant as a fan piece, just a reminder that the album was coming soon," his manager Bill Silva told Billboard magazine: "What surprised us is how the fans reacted. We didn't pre-promote the single, we didn't go to radio with it, and this song did 229,000 units its first week in the US. There was clearly something resonant about the song, and it immediately shifted the strategy for what the rollout of the album was going to be."
This was one of four songs on Love is a Four Letter Word
that Mraz wrote with Michael Natter, an amateur singer-guitarist in his 60s whom the I'm Yours
hitmaker met at coffee shop gigs and open mic nights. Mraz told Artist Direct
that because of this song's success, "he has quit his job and is working as a professional songwriter, which is a dream come true for a man in his '60s who has been playing guitar his whole life. That's the sweeter backstory to this record, in that it contributed to someone else's life."
Mraz broke down into tears during an episode of VH1 Storytellers, as he spoke of overcoming the relationship and professional struggles that were his inspiration for this song. Mraz shared with the audience, "You sometimes contemplate ending your life. It's a ridiculous thought, but we're human and it's one of the powers we have."