Things I Think When I Listen to Jack Johnson

Is that his real name?  How many white male singer songwriter guitarists think they are him?  Why does he get the position that he does, the visibility that he does?  It is good songwriting in its simplicity, they do simple things well.  The band plays simple things well, and it is recorded well.  The ways that I listen are probably influenced by studying music through school and my experiences as a musician and around musicians afterwards.  Am I a musician?  God I hate those kinds of thoughts, self doubt and spiralling inwards attacks.  It’s funny that he can seem insipid or is used as wallpaper music in cafes, because if you listen to *some* of the lyrics they are very anti-consumerism and status quo.  Not shockingly anti though.  I don’t think in asterixs though.  How do you spell asterixs?  I like his percussionist, again very simple.  Sometimes the mid-tempo simple tonality simple 4/4 seems so goddamn safe though.  His voice is smooth.  I wonder if it is possible to think about music free of the cultural connections and identity performance of normalised male voice as central, surfer stoner association, hippie consumption of this, what the kids think of it, all that.  —-moment feeling listening breathing — interesting to listen to this while my partner, baby and dog are out for a walk and this is ‘me’ time, like the pressure to make use of ‘me’ time can have me doubting myself.  Doubts and perfectionism can grab onto anything.  Probably caffeine is in cahoots with those doubting thoughts.  Ok, now I am finding him a bit boring.  I think it’s around the beginning of the songs, a few songs in, and it’s the same tonality and tempo … oh, so the same again.  But they are good melodies.  What’s good?  Familiar, simple, they ‘work’.  Still, the first time I saw him way back when at Byron supporting Ben Harper I wasn’t that impressed.  Funny how that can happen, and then other times someone really grabs you and you really hear it.  Makes me think about Ben Harper and the experiences with him/his music/his narratives.  And whatever happened to the actual writing I did about Michael Franti and this idea of him and my narratives and where is that goddamn story?  My partner doesn’t believe it exists.  It does, or it did.  Music as soundtrack to break ups, healing, self-exploration, getting through depression.  Funnily enough Jack Johnson worked that way once, as a balm, the simple balm.  Because someone can put their heart into music and recording and sometimes in a cafe context it can seem background but sometimes if you listen closely your heart resonates.  Not that I would talk about heart in an academic context.  And why not?  And why the concern with separating my interests, passions, fields?  Well there is a pragmatic need to sometimes, but really, my thoughts clearly dart from heart to identity performativity to the wash on the guitar to personal association to goddamn motherfucking rage at male as central Jesus Christ sometimes it is so infuriating to even be ‘talking back’ to it, or ‘screaming back’ to it, or ‘silently screaming back in a bloggy kind of way’ to it.  Always, straight away, the worry that I will be attacked for being feminist or going on about it or being too sensitive or having a THING about it.  Fuck goddamn.  I hope my daughter has an easier time with it all.  Such a headfuck.  Here comes the family.  I love them.

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