The Petchary is not writing about the world’s first African American heavyweight boxing champion. Nor is she referring to the politician from the American state of Maryland, who seems to be in a lot of trouble right now (and there seem to be quite a few of those floating around).
No, it’s the lovable, boy-next-door Hawaiian singer, songwriter, child surfer and environmentalist. The Petchary is listening to one of her favorite albums of his, the wistful “Sleeping Through the Static,” which was recorded entirely using solar power.
Jack Johnson has perfected the art of “laid back.” His gentle voice, sometimes whimsical lyrics and simple, ambling acoustic arrangements can carry you away to a lazy beach somewhere, a breeze quietly shifting the palm trees, pelicans diving out at sea.
And his ocean connections are very strong; the son of a well-known surfer in Hawaii, he started surfing at age five and stopped after a nasty accident at age seventeen. But at age thirty-five he is still quietly living by the sea in Hawaii, married to his childhood sweetheart and their three children. He is a family man. His latest album is entitled simply “To The Sea.”
That is not to say that Jack is simply chilling. Apart from keeping his fans happy, recording and touring, he is busy putting a lot of the money he has earned into his favorite causes – largely surrounding environmental awareness and children. He set up the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation to help under-privileged children and to help children understand and treasure the fragile Hawaiian environment. The foundation was set up with the entire profits of his 2008 tour; now he is giving all his profits from his 2010 tour to his latest venture – All At Once, his social action network that includes 150 non-profit organizations.
Jack is simply an idealist, with some simply great ideas. The slogan for All At Once (allatonce.org if you want to jump on board) is “An individual action, multiplied by millions, creates global change.” He may have something there. Renewable energy, plastic-free environment, climate change, oceans and rivers, sustainable living, tree planting… all are Jack’s concerns. He just won Billboard’s Humanitarian Award for 2010.
And Jack and his wife also run the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, which focuses on environmental education. They recommend real Christmas trees, by the way – not plastic ones, although they are reusable. The Petchary feels vindicated by this, as Mr. Petchary has been trying to tell her that plastic is more sustainable… Which never felt quite right.
So there you have it. If you want to lower your blood pressure, then Jack is your man. The emotions are muted, he sings about banana pancakes and the fruit trees in his back yard. But every now and then a sharper Jack emerges, as in his song “Enemy”…
After we spoke I had a dream that I broke/The teeth from the mouth of a snake/Then I choked on the teeth, they were mine all along/I picked up the pieces when I woke up/I put them in a boat made of things that I don’t want to see/I blew on the sail, watched it drift out to sea/The further it drifted the closer it came…
We can’t be mellow all the time, can we. But while hard core rock fans may find Jack just a little too, well, soft – the Petchary wishes people like him could be cloned.
Then perhaps the world would be a more livable place.
- Musician Jack Johnson Receives Billboard’s 2010 Humanitarian Award (ecorazzi.com)
- Jack Johnson Takes A Stand Against Disposable Plastics (ecorazzi.com)
- Will the Real Jack Johnson Please Stand Up? (spinner.com)