Monday, October 20, 2008

"Go On" by Jack Johnson

The mellow surf folk of Jack Johnson can make you feel relaxed to the point where you listen to the lyrics and may miss the point completely. This happened to me with the song "Go On" from his most recent album "Sleep Between Static" released in early 2008. (Song from iMeem below is not the album version, YouTube Video is not the official video)

The song was on my iPod along with many other Jack Johnson tunes for my trip to Australia so when I picked up a Rolling Stone with Jack on the cover, I was surprised to read the story behind this song.

Jack and his family had cared for his wife's cousin Danny Riley, a 19 year old who died from a brain tumor in October of 2007. The album itself has a dedication "In Loving Memory to Danny Riley." In caring for him Jack found many parallels between caring for a dying loved one and raising his own children. "It's about learning how to let go of someone you love," he says, "watching them swim away."

As a father of toddlers, I could see so much how in raising them I am slowly having to let go, which parallels so much of what hospice tries to help teach families and patients as they face death and dying. After learning of the meaning behind this song, a young man I was caring for died. As the family was preparing for his funeral services, the songs dual meaning for parents losing their child seemed appropriate to suggest to them. They took the song and made a wonderful video tribute to him.

**UPDATE 7.21.2009** I was contacted by the family of Danny Riley and wanted to add his website and note that they started a foundation ot help children with cancer through music appreciation and experience. Danny himself was a talented musician as you will find when you listen on the site.

Other songs on this album with palliative oriented lyrics include: "Adrift," "All at Once," "Monsoon" and "Losing Keys"

"Go On" by Jack Johnson from the album "Sleep Between the Static" (2008) from Brushfire Records.


In my rear view I watch you
Watching the twilight behind the telephone lines
With nothing to prove or to assume
Just thinking that your thoughts are different than mine
In my rear view I watch you
I gave you your life, but you gave me mine

I see you slowly swim away
As the light is leaving town
To a place that I can't be
But there's no apologies

Just go on, Just go on
There are still so many things, I wanna to say to you
But go on, Just go on
We're bound by blood that's moving, the moment that we started
The moment that we started

I see perfect little eyes, watch the shadows of the clouds
And the surface of the ocean out the window of a plane
I get nervous when I fly I'm used to walking with my feet
Turbulence is like a sigh that I can't help but over think

What is the purpose of my life if it doesn't ever do
With learning to let it go live vicariously through
You can do the same it's the least you can do
Cause it's a lonely little chain if you don't add to it

So go on, just go on
There's so many things I wanna say to you

Go on, just go on
We're bound by blood and love from the moment that we start

Just go on, just go on
There are still so many things I wanna say to you

Just go on, just go on
We're bound by blood that's moving from the moment that we started
The moment that we started

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3 Responses to “"Go On" by Jack Johnson”

Peter said...
June 28, 2009 at 9:49 PM

I just heard this song on Pandora and read the lyrics and kind of thought the song was about watching you loved ones pass on. My grandma just dies and saw my dad go through that and I thought about how I would handle it.

I teach high school physics and I go through this a little each year with my students graduating and moving and having to let go.

I also have a 14 month year old and I am already thinking about letting him go and how I am going to deal with that. I already get a little misty eyed thinking about him going to college.

Overall, I think he does a nice job capturing these emotions.

Christian Sinclair said...
June 29, 2009 at 9:54 PM

Thanks for leaving your comments Peter. Too bad the link to the video is broken. I found a live version where Jack Johnson actually dedicates it to Danny Reilly. (note it is the German/Dutch? MSN site)

I do like how it is very open to interpretation as any good art is. It reminds me of a quote by Regina Spektor I heard recently:


"If I could explain every word of this song, then I wouldn't have been very inspired when I wrote it. I would have been more crafty and intellectual," she says. "I would really hate it if I could call up Kafka or Hemingway or Salinger and any question I could throw at them they would have an answer. That's the magic when you read or hear something wonderful — there's no one that has all the answers."

However, that's not to say she doesn't want people to look for deeper meaning behind her songs.

"It's not like I have all the answers," she says. END QUOTE

Quote Source

Eli said...
August 26, 2014 at 10:53 PM

I immediately related this song with a difficult relationship i had at the time, after long time i came to realize that i gave the matter all i had, and really wished myself to be through with the sorrow.

once i found the song i just repeatedly sang it to myself and it slowly helped me to recover!

i feel so good finding that song was written to such a good cause.

thank you again, Jack Johnso.