Sunday 24 September 2017

Jack Johnson: I had to put at least one song about Donald Trump in new album

Johnson described his latest record as a 50/50 split between political cynicism and love – and a little bit of astronomy.

Jack Johnson at the O2 Arena – London
Jack Johnson at the O2 Arena – London

By Francesca Gosling

Singer Jack Johnson has told how it would have been “hard not to write at least one song” about US president Donald Trump when making his latest album.

Releasing his first studio record in four years, the American musician said it would be “weird” to ignore the political climate that has developed since he was last in the studio.

“There’s one song that would be hard to read any other way than making a comment about politics in America, and especially Donald Trump,” he told the Press Association.

“It felt like it would be weird to just completely avoid it.

“It’s such a major part of our world now, how entertainment and politics have basically combined into one thing, and it’s kind of scary that our entertainment is the thing that is governing us.”

But while he described the first half of All The Light Above It Too as a cynical political commentary, the rest is all about “escaping that cynicism a little”.

Johnson, 42, explained: “I didn’t realise when I sequenced it, but after listening to it a few times I realised why my mind put the songs in that order.

“If you want to write a song that’s anti-war, you could talk about the things you want to change, but if you want to sing out against hate the best thing you can do is sing a love song to the world.

“Music has a capacity to shape people’s actions and how they approach the day.”

The Hawaii-resident added that the message is especially important when it comes to his deepest passion: the environment.

“I really appreciated when our governor spoke out after Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement,” the father-of-three said.

“As a US citizen it was depressing and embarrassing and frustrating, but it tightened up our community in Hawaii and made us feel stronger together.

“The positive side out of all of this is that it’s lighting a little fire in a few people to speak out about the way they feel.”

Inspiration for Johnson’s uplifting numbers also came from his time out taking camping and surfing trips with his family and friends.

While one moment saw him fall victim to his own surf board, resulting in stitches to the bridge of his nose, another gave him the idea for track Is One Moon Enough.

He remembered: “We were sitting around the fire looking at the stars with binoculars and I was showing the kids how, if you look at Jupiter on a clear night, you can see four of its moons.

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Glastonbury Festival 2010 – Sunday

“It was tripping my kids out to know that other planets have more than one moon, so I asked them “Do you think one moon’s enough or do we need more?

“My 11-year-old just started laughing and said ‘of course’, but the next day he kept asking everybody what they thought.

“It made me wonder whether, even on a planetary level, if your neighbour has more than you then can you ever be satisfied with what you have?

“Then the song just became about greed and the stuff we want in life – and it all came from a conversation around the campfire about the moons of Jupiter.”

Press Association

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