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‘Jack Johnson and Friends: Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George’

The animated feature “Curious George” opened last weekend to positive reviews and about $15 million in box office revenue. It also sports a terrific soundtrack of (mostly) original songs by Hawaii native Jack Johnson.

Johnson’s folk-pop style features sweet lyrics and simple charms. Children and adults will find much to appreciate in both musicality and message of the 13 tracks.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Johnson, who sings as well as plays guitar and ukulele, is joined on the album by “friends” Ben Harper, G. Love, Matt Costa and Kawika Kahiapo.
 
In Entertainment Weekly, Johnson cited wide-ranging influences on the album, from the Vince Guaraldi Trio that did “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to Bob Marley to “Schoolhouse Rock!”
 
The light “Upside Down,” which has already been released as a single, leads the album and is certainly appropriate for the monkey-themed film. But other tracks are just as impressive.
 
“The 3 R’s” is a re-make of “Three Is a Magic Number” from the “Schoolhouse” cartoons that taught history, math and other subjects.
 
Here the three Rs stand for “reduce, reuse, recycle” and will be in your head for the rest of the day. It mentions things like reusing grocery bags or a sibling’s clothes, recycling trash, and simply reducing our consumption in the first place.
 
            And if your brother or your sister’s got some cool clothes
            You could try them on before you buy some more of those
            Reuse, we’ve got to learn to reuse
 
Several of the tracks deal with care of our natural resources. The album itself is printed on recycled paper and participates in the “1% for the Planet” campaign, meaning one percent of the album’s sales will be donated to environmental education in schools.
 
Johnson covers “We’re Going to Be Friends,” written by Jack White of White Stripes, and is joined by Ben Harper on “With My Own Two Hands”—which asserts that “I can change the world/With my own two hands.” The song, written by Harper, sounds like it might have been sung during the civil rights era and been fronted by Joan Baez or Peter, Paul and Mary.
 
Another one particularly appropriate for children is “The Sharing Song,” written by Zach Gill and Adam Topol, who are members of Johnson’s band.
 
            If you have two
            Give one to your friend
            If you have three
            Give one to your friend and me
            It’s always more fun
            To share with everyone
 
The album’s liner notes feature complete lyrics and Curious George artwork from the movie, which stays in line with the Curious George books by Margret and H.A. Rey.
 
Johnson’s album is one parents can listen to—and enjoy—as much as their children.
 
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />EthicsDaily.com.
 
Buy the album now from Amazon.com.
 
The movie’s official Web site is here.