Jack Johnson Synopsis

Topics: Jack Johnson, Brushfire Fairytales, Music genre Pages: 9 (1364 words) Published: February 11, 2013
John T. Montague

11 December, 2012

Jack Johnson Synopsis

To try and attempt to classify Jack Johnson’s style and genre of music to one

type is nearly impossible. This singer-songwriter has a multitude mixes different

influences in a manageable way in order to make a style of music his very own. His

style is a mixture of acoustic-folk, blues, reggae, pop, and sometimes even a hip hop

type of sound. In the year 2000 Jack Johnson’s sound became popular and widely

listened to with his emergence into the music world. He expands off of the basis of a

wide range of genres, utilizing different instruments with a wide variety of timbres. His

main strong suit in the music of his own would be his songwriting style with a broad

usage of political and environmental views on our society as a whole. Jack Johnson,

unlike others in his similar genre of music does not flaunt solo improvisation such as the

like of John Mayer and Ben Harper. In general his music is laid back and very easy to

listen to for consumers of all ages in a diverse sound that strikes a further type of study

in later years.

Jack Johnson draws influence from a great number and variety of musicians. He

quotes Nick Drake, Ben Harper, The Beatles, Bob Marley, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and

A Tribe Called Quest among his influences. It is easy to hear the elements that each

adds to his sound, such as the acoustic folk of Drake, the songwriting and lyrical skill of

Dylan, the political activism of Young and Dylan, the reggae of Marley, the guitar

prowess of Ben Harper, and the sheer creativity, catchiness and mass appeal of the


Jack Johnson, in this genre gained popularity largely by appealing to the fans of

a variety influences. He incorporates enough of his influence’s sound to win over the

fans of his particular influence while still being unique. Most bands begin small, playing

coffee shops and small venues until they build up a following, then write and record a

CD and tour to support it. Jack Johnson took a bit of a different route; he started as a

Hawaii-based surfer and filmmaker who picked up songwriting to provide music for his

films. He began writing songs during his college years, having played the guitar since

age fourteen. Eventually, he was introduced to G. Love and Special Sauce and took the

front man G. Love for a day of surfing. G. Love ended up recording Jack’s song “Rodeo

Clowns” for his album Philadelphonic. It became the first single from the album; Jack

sang and played on the track. Jack then recorded a four-track demo, which caught the

ears of Ben Harper's producer and right hand man, J.P. Plunier. Plunier worked with

Jack on his debut album Brushfire Fairytales in early 2001, with Harper and his lap steel

guitar making a guest appearance. The album solidified Johnson’s popularity; since

then, he has released three studio albums, sold tens of millions of copies, and toured

the U.S. and internationally numerous times. Jack Johnson in turn influences the other

counterparts of his genre, but he has a unique sound that spawns a myriad of imitators.

Jack Johnson’s sound is particularly distinctive, and can be clearly heard in the sound of

many followers and impersonators. For example, it is a very popular trend right now to

play acoustic covers of his songs; many people post videos of themselves playing the

covers onYoutube.com. The throng of fans and followers is a testament to Johnson’s

influence and skill.

Performance is the area in which Jack Johnson’s true skill shines through most

clearly. He is one of very few artists who sounds better live than on recording; his voice

and performance are flawless the entire time. As the headlining act in the show, he

typically plays a set that lasts anywhere from an hour and a half, to two hours. The

songs are played from memory without any sheet...
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