Lyrical: Jack Johnson

Maybe she thinks I know something
Maybe, maybe she thinks it’s fine
Maybe she knows something I don’t
I’m so, so tired, so tired of trying

It seems to me that maybe,
Pretty much always means no
So don’t tell me you might just let it go

We all have our guilty little musical secrets. The ones that, if your playlist suddenly were made public, would make you feign surprise (“How’d that get there?“) or sheepishly shrug your shoulders.

Huey Lewis is one. Yeah, he’s in light rotation on my iPod. I’ll admit it. (And, yes, I’ll admit to still listening to my iPod Shuffle. I will until it dies.)

Also on my list is Jack Johnson, the strumming surfer from Hawaii.

I’ve always admired artists who don’t need the big backing bands, the amped up mics, the screaming lyrics. A guy (or a woman) with an acoustic guitar, who knows how to play it. Someone who knows how to use his or her voice, even if that voice isn’t particularly pitch-perfect. Someone who isn’t afraid to let the lyrics carry the song — even, as is the case with Johnson’s lyrics, I don’t always understand what the heck they mean.

Johnson knows, in musical terms, what he doesn’t know. He knows what works for him and the people who listen to his music. He’s cultivated a genuine laid-back surfer feel, built a groove that is simple and simply irresistible.

Yeah, it may verge on too poppy for some. I get that. Respect it. My family gives me grief for my poppy tendencies.

That’s fine. It hits for me.

I defy anyone to keep from moving at Flake (some key lyrics above, and the video below), or Good People, or I Got You or Better TogetherSleep Through the Static … with Stephen Colbert, for God’s sake.

Jack Johnson, at his best, is just a guy strumming a guitar singing songs that make you want to tap your heel. He’s someone to sit back to on a warm summer night with a cold beer nearby and friends and family around.

Nothing wrong with that.

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