Song lyrics are complicated. Artists often write in difficult-to-understand ways, using confusing poetic devices such as metaphors, similes, and rhyme schemes. UCSB alum Jack Johnson has some of the most convoluted lyrics out there. Oftentimes, Johnson will go so far as to ask a question while singing! Johnson’s lyrics are both complicated and very specific to UCSB, and since all UCSB students understand the lines that are about their alma matter, we’re going explain some of Jack Johnson’s most famous lines that are not about UCSB.
“Cause people/ will tune in/ how many train wrecks do we need to see?”
This line is from Johnson’s famous song “Good People,” and this song was not in any way about the University of California-Santa Barbara. Cool!
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“And we don’t notice any time pass/ because we don’t notice anything”
This is of course the famous “we don’t notice anything” line from Johnson’s song “We are Going to be Friends” that dealt with his early childhood struggles of not being able to tell the time. This line was written by Jack Johnson, and not one word of this was about the famous research university in Santa Barbara.
“It’s a jungle gym/ It’s a jungle gym.”
An eminently quotable line from Johnson’s critically acclaimed track “Jungle Gym,” this line was written for Johnson’s first child, and answers the child’s question about whether or not the object in question was a jungle gym. It was. That jungle gym was nowhere near, nor has anything to do with, the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California.
“Is it just a matter of time?/Or does it even matter at all?”
Another line detailing Johnson’s now-famous inability to understand or cope with the societal concept of time, this series of words was also written for Johnson’s wife, in reference to how long it would take the microwave to reheat Johnson’s bowl of old mac and cheese. Little known fact: all UC campuses banned mac and cheese in the early eighties due to protests. So this line can’t be about Johnson’s alma matter! Neat!
“Knees week arms are heavy/ There’s vomit on his sweater already/ He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready.”
This line is one of Jack Johnson’s most famous lyrics written under his pen name Marshall Mathers. This line became a worldwide phenomenon the year it was released, when people began throwing up onto their favorite sweaters in order to show solidarity for Johnson’s predicament.
“Can’t you see that it’s just raining?/ Ain’t no need to go outside”
This eminently quotable line from Johnson’s famous song “Banana Pancakes” actually contains a hidden meaning. When asked about the line’s secret message, Johnson coyly replied “What hidden meaning? There’s no hidden meaning in that line, it’s very straightforward.” Wow, who knew? We certainly didn’t!
Jack Johnson is one of UCSB’s most famous alums, and you can tell he still loves his alma mater through various hidden passages and metaphors in his songs. As for the lines that aren’t about UCSB? Well, that’s for you to decide, smart guy.