By Stacey Ey;er, Commmentary Co-Editor
“Jack Johnson, why is your music so popular?”
That’s the question I found myself asking before inserting Johnson’s newest album Sleep Through the Static into my stereo. And luckily, it didn’t take long to figure out the answer.
Released on February 5, 2008, Through the Static is full of soft and simple melodies, prominently featuring the use of the guitar and piano with a hint of the drums. These same melodies are reminiscent of summertime and tropical, well, anything—living in Hawaii has obviously had an influence on Johnson’s music.
Don’t be fooled, though. The music is soft and light but the lyrics are anything but. As the product description—a message written by Johnson himself—provided by Amazon.com said, “Some of the songs on this album are about making babies. Some of the songs are about raising them. Some of the songs are about the world that these children will grow up in; a world of war and love, and hate, and time and space. Some of the songs are about saying goodbye to people I love and will miss.”
These themes are evident from the start.
“All At Once,” the album’s opening track is a slow song that questions the state of the world we live in today.
“Sleep Through the Static,” the album’s title track, is a more upbeat song that also questions the state of the world today, though in a more direct fashion than “All At Once.”
“Angel,” one of the shortest songs on the album coming in at just over two minutes, is also the sappiest song on the album. And I mean sappy in a good way. With lyrics like “You’re so busy changing the world / Just one smile and you could change all of mine” combined with the gentle strumming of the guitar, it’s hard to resist the sweetness of this song.
One of the sweetest and most touching aspects of this album comes not from the music but from the inscription found inside the cover: “In loving memory of Danny Riley.” Riley, Johnson’s cousin, died in October 2007 from a brain tumor, according to a press release from Daily Nexus. Before his passing, Riley helped collaborated with Johnson by providing backup vocals on “If I Had Eyes”, the first single off of the album.
Johnson’s music—it’s not exactly what one might find on mainstream radio today, but that only adds to the goodness of this album. As he sings in “They Do They Don’t”, “To listen is to learn.” Listen to this album, and you’ll learn just how good Jack Johnson’s music really is.