Hawaiian- born and raised Jack Johnson is a man of many talents. This former pro surfer is also an actor, filmmaker, musician, producer, singer, and songwriter. Not many men are mentioned by name in Sheryl Crow songs like Jack Johnson was. His niche as a musical artist is in the acoustic pop genre, mainly soft rock performances and recordings. Growing up as a son of a popular surfer, it stood to reason this family tradition would pass down from father to son. By the time he was seventeen years old he was surfing at a professional level but that career was short-lived due to an injury that sent him in the direction of the entertainment industry instead. In 1994, his first acting gig was appearing as a surfer in The Endless Summer II.
Upon graduation from high school, Johnson traded the Hawaiian beach for California, attending the University of California before graduating in 1997. In addition to learning how to surf as a small child, he also learned how to play the guitar and write songs. Since 1994, Johnson performed in a number of bands before embarking on a solo career as a musical artist in 2001. He debuted with Brushfire Fairytales, followed by 2006’s Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George. Overall, he has seven albums to his credit, as well as two four video albums, three extended plays (EPs), two live albums, thirty-three singles, and twenty-one music videos. Of those studio albums, the first five earned multiple certifications from the music recognition industries from the nations of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA.
Because of Johnson’s love for the ocean, he and his wife, Kim, have been actively raising awareness and funds in favor of environmentally-related causes. This has been reflected into his music, as well as documentaries. Since 2008, the two have organized and performed at concerts, festivals, and fundraising causes. As prolific as he is in the entertainment industry, Johnson has maintained a genuine, down to earth lifestyle that has seen a solid marriage to his wife since 2000 and a relatively low-key family life that has been able to stay out of the tabloids. This is a rare and refreshing quality, simply adding to the appeal of Jack Johnson as more than just some surfer dude that knows how to play a good tune.
Top 10 Jack Johnson Songs
#10 – Constellations
Although it didn’t appear on any music charts, “Constellations” served as an incredibly deep song that seemed to seek refuge from the world’s issues. From the album, In Between Dreams, this song seemed to add a universally inspired piece that featured the brilliance of Jack Johnson’s musical talent and lyrics, installing a swept up experience as if the listener has just taken a flight into the stars. “Constellations” is definitely one of those awesome songs to just sit back and enjoy the musical ride.
#9 – Flake
In 2002, from Jack Johnson’s debut album, Brushfire Fairytales, “Flake” was his first single release that also became his first number one hit on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay. It also charted as high as number seventy-three on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at number six on the Official New Zealand Music Chart. Jack Johnson’s amazing combination of easy-going lyrics and acoustic genius as a guitarist beautifully dramatized his lyrical frustration to revive a romance that clearly wasn’t meant to be. “Flake” served as that one ideal song best describing how blind love can sometimes be, apparently oblivious to the fact when a couple isn’t meant to be together trying to force-fit something out of nothing is a futile attempt at best.
#8 – I Got You
From the album, From Here to Now to You, “I Got You” was the ninth out of ten number one singles on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay chart after it was released in 2013. It also charted as high as number eighty-eight on the US Billboard Hot 100, at number fifty-nine in Belgium, and number sixty-four in Australia. Canada also charted “I Got You” at number eighty-four. In this beautifully played out love song, Jack Johnson sent the romantic message home through his soft-spoken lyrics and easy-going acoustic performance. The reality of appreciating that special someone in one’s life as something more than just a mere possession should always have priority as, in the end, nothing else matters.
#7 – If I Had Eyes
From the album, Sleep Through the Static, “If I Had Eyes” was a song that was beautifully played out by an inspired Jack Johnson after spending a precious moment with his son, who was a toddler at the time. Released in 2007 as a single, “If I Had Eyes” became a number one hit on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay, a number seven hit on the US Billboard Modern Rock Track, and a number forty-seven hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 music charts. In Canada, “If I Had Eyes” peaked at number eleven and was at least a top forty hit among the nations of Austria, Brazil, New Zealand, and Switzerland. Although there was absolutely nothing childish about “If I Had Eyes” as it was performed as a bluesy breakup song, it did serve as yet another example of genius what has made Jack Johnson an iconic fan favorite.
#6 – Good People
“Good People” was a number one hit on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay, a number twenty-five hit in New Zealand, and a number fifty hit on the official UK Singles Chart after it was released in 2005. From the album, In Between Dreams, “Good People” also became certified gold by the RIAA as Jack Johnson once again produced an impressionable hit, especially among the fans of contemporary music. This song also served as constructive criticism against the love affair mainstream television has with sensationalized programs and how it has affected society in a manner that is seen as appropriate. It was actually inspired after Johnson was approached to write music for a television program, an offer he rejected, only to respond with “Good People” and his take of what he thought about network television’s failure to air less graphic content for the audience to enjoy.
#5 – Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
From the album, In Between Dreams, “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” was a beautifully performed riff as a dreamy tune as waves of the instruments shift from dramatic to composed. This single became the first of many to become more than just a number one single on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay and a number sixty-six hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts. It was also certified gold by the RIAA and silver by the BPI. Jack Johnson admitted in an interview the inspiration of “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” stemmed from a personal friend’s lovestruck situation where he strove to win over a woman’s heart but had yet to become successful in his attempt. This song was initially designed as a cheer up song, both for his friend whom he wrote this for, and for fans that may relate to this beautifully performed lyrical story.
#4 – You and Your Heart
“You and Your Heart” was the lead single released from Jack Johnson’s album, To the Sea. In addition to peaking at the number one spot on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay chart, it was also the highest charted song on the US Billboard Hot 100 for Johnson as it climbed as high as number twenty. Released in 2010, “You and Your Hear” became a theme song during the year’s televised broadcasts for little league championship baseball games. The amazing acoustic performance by Johnson’s guitar was later joined with a heartfelt lyrical tale about rifts that have been known to take place between a human being and their own heart as trying times have a tendency to drive a wedge between the two halves of ourselves that sum up who we are as a person.
#3 – Banana Pancakes
“Banana Pancakes” was a spoofy love song Jack Johnson wrote for his wife, which was included as a recording in his album, In Between Dreams. Simple, catchy, and entertaining, “Banana Pancakes” became a fan favorite as it earned BPI’s gold certification and RIAA’s platinum certification as a commercially successful single. The soft, easy-listening lyrics sang about keeping out the outside world during a rainy day and simply stay at home and indulge on “Banana Pancakes” while the acoustic pick of the guitar seemed to perform as smooth and easy-going as maple syrup.
#2 – Better Together
From the album, In Between Dreams, which was released in 2005, “Better Together” was a 2006 single release which peaked as high as number twelve on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay, twenty-four on the UK Singles Chart, and at number seventy-two in Ireland. In 2009, a live version from the album, En Concert, charted as high as number twenty-two on the US Mediabase Triple A chart. It also earned him gold certification in Italy and the US, as well as platinum in Australia and the UK. Classified as one of Jack Johnson’s signature songs, this feel-good song witnessed him at his lyrical best with that calm singing voice.
Combine that with the opening harmonica and his beautiful pick of the guitar, as well as harmonious melodies, it comes as no surprise the album, In Between Dreams, became a multi-platinum success. “Better Together” was a song Jack Johnson dedicated to his wife, Kim, whom he married during the summer of 2000. Not only did this song make the perfect couple song for the Johnsons, it also became a favorite song of choice for weddings and anniversaries, as well as for romantics who appreciate a quality love song when they hear it.
#1 – Upside Down
On the US Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay, “Upside Down” peaked at number one in 2006, making it the fourth occasion Jack Johnson released a single to reach this spot. On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, it peaked at number twenty-three and it was a number twenty-five hit on the US Billboard Alternative Songs chart. This jazzy number also charted internationally, peaking as high as number nine in Canada and at least within the top forty among the nations of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the UK.
It was a song designed for the 2006 movie, Curious George, and is the first song featured on the movie’s soundtrack. “Upside Down” became a certified platinum seller with the RIAA, as well as certified gold in Brazil, Denmark, and Italy, and silver with the UK’s BPI. The beauty behind the song, as if Johnson’s guitar and vocal talent wasn’t enough, focused on taking a mere thought and make a worldly experience out of it.
Top 10 Jack Johnson Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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