For a long time now I have been trying to figure out why I don't like Jack Johnson. A lot of my friends--people with whom I share many of the same sentiments and preferences--really like Jack Johnson. This has led me to feel that I am SUPPOSED to like him (other singers I feel that I am SUPPOSED to like but don't: Tracy Chapman, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell). But if I am SUPPOSED to like Jack Johnson, why DON'T I? It's not like I HATE him, but I generally can't help but roll my eyes a little when one of his songs comes on the radio. I have really been perplexed by this phenomenon until most recently, when I finally pinpointed the cause of my Jack Johnson apathy: his whole sound reminds me of Birkenstock sandals and bare feet.
It's a laid-back sound that really resonates with a lot of people (the same people who like Hawaii and that sort of "Hakuna Mattata" [SP??] philosophy of life), but it certainly doesn't resonate with me. I prefer a nice mary jane, or a romantic peep-toe shoe
You can really tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear and whether or not they listen to Jack Johnson. Some might think this means I am uptight. But I prefer to think of it as simply a more subtle refinement.
Speaking of Jack, let's talk about Jack White. Now he's an interesting person to juxtapose with Jack Johnson.
Let's start with looks:
Ok, so Jack Johnson is appealing if you like white teeth, bronze skin, and "dudes" wielding surf boards and acoustic guitars.
But if you like pasty skin, black hair, top hats, and old fashioned looking, skinny moustaches, Jack White is your man.
Jack White is a misfit, the type of guy you'd see lurking around in the hall at school, but never making it into a classroom. There is something about this image that appeals to me. Jack White certainly isn't what the world would call "handsome" but neither was Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre. And who doesn't love him!?
Moving on to less material aspects of the two Jacks' characters: talent.
Jack White: awesome, intelligent, eclectic musician who writes the coolest songs on earth, whose voice sounds a little like Robert Plant.
Jack Johnson: mediocre guitar player, who sings in babytalk. I have to give him some props for the kids music CD. I can get behind that. Unfortunately, my own kid already prefers Jack White, especially "Seven Nation Army," so I probably won't be purchasing the Curious George soundtrack.
Incidentally, the song "We're Going to Be Friends" is a White Stripes original. (Go to this link to view the video, and other White Stripes vids. May I recommend a little "Hardest Button to Button" and "My Doorbell"?) In my opinion, the Jack Johnson version is quite inferior and the tenderness of it is lost on Jack Johnson's baby-talking voice.
Jack White: mysterious, intriguing past (is Meg White his sister, or ex-wife???) married to red-headed supermodel and expecting a baby (cute!)
Jack Johnson: uh-oh! VEGETARIAN!!!! And humanitarian, which is real nice and admirable, I have to admit (again, I don't HATE him, just can't LIKE him). I don't know how much of a humanitarian Jack White is, but I DO know that in one of his songs, he says "Well I'm sorry but I'm not interested in gold mines, oil wells, shipping or real estate" and that seems pretty humanitarian and earth-friendly to ME. I am not interested in those things, either. Nor am I interested in surfing.
I'm sure this blog is going to stir up a little controversy--hopefully 10-15 comments worth--and I sincerely hope I haven't offended any Jack Johnson-ophiles out there. You are my comrades in most aspects of taste and decency. Just not in the case of Jack vs. Jack.