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Watch Jack Johnson Rock Three Stripped-Down Tunes

Singer-songwriter tackles acoustic versions of 'To the Sea' track "From the Clouds" and more

June 9, 2010 6:37 PM ET

This week Jack Johnson scored his third consecutive Number One album with To the Sea, an "existential chill-out record that feels substantial, at times even edgy, without feeling forced," as Will Hermes writes in his RS review of the disc. As Johnson told Rolling Stone , picking up an electric guitar wasn't too much of a stretch: "In high school, I played in a band that covered Minor Threat, the Descendents, a little bit of Bad Religion." The new LP also features Mellotrons, crickets and a gecko, who makes a cameo on "Anything But the Truth."

The 35-year-old surfer and songwriter recently returned to his beloved acoustic guitar to lay down a few tracks at New York's Sirius XM studios. Click above to watch his performance of To the Sea's "From the Clouds," and check out two older tunes — In Between Dreams' "Banana Pancakes," and Animal Liberation Orchestra's "Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down" from Fly Between Falls here:

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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