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The Meaning of Jack Johnson’s “Better Together”

“Better Together” by Jack Johnson is a sweet love song that depicts a deep bond between two people, with the sentiment that despite the ups and downs in the relationship, life is simply better when they have each other.

Released in 2005 as the first track on Jack’s second album, In Between Dreams, and later as a single, “Better Together” was a moderate hit upon release, but has grown to be one of the artist’s most popular songs. This, of course, is within a vast catalogue of very popular songs.

Say what you will about Jack Johnson’s music being boring or generic. It’s difficult to listen to “Better Together” and not bob your head along to the peaceful melody, and perhaps even relate the loving words to someone special in your own life. This is partially thanks to a sample from Hoagie Carmichael’s 1938 tune, “Heart and Soul”.

Johnson himself has said that “Better Together” was initially written for his wife, Kim Baker, and then became something more universal:

It’s been around for a little while. I had the first verse, and I was always tooling around with that. And then the second verse came along later. It was a song that was pretty much complete (before entering the studio). It was really just a song that I wrote for my wife. The love songs always start out for her, but then I try to make them pretty broad so they’re for everybody by the end.

Jack Johnson on the meaning of “Better Together”.

“Better Together” Lyrics Meaning

With the story behind the song covered, we’re now going to take a closer look at the lyrics and the message that Jack Johnson uses to describe his love.

The song is quite wordy, but as its sung it flows smoothly and is easy to understand, a mark of Jack Johnson’s talent as a singer.

Starting with the first verse:

There’s no combination of words I could put on the back of a postcard
No song that I could sing but I can try for your heart
Our dreams and they are made out of real things
Like a shoebox of photographs with sepia-toned loving
Love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart
Like why are we here and where do we go, and how come it’s so hard?
It’s not always easy and sometimes life can be deceiving
I’ll tell you one thing, it’s always better when we’re together

First verse to “Better Together” by Jack Johnson.

Here, Johnson is essentially saying that words and songs could never explain the way that he feels, but he’s still willing to try his best.

He sings that their dreams are tangible, suggesting that this relationship does truly have the potential to achieve the wildest things they hope for together.

The image of a shoebox filled with sepia-toned photographs implies that they have already been together for quite some time, as photos turn that amber, washed-out way when they age. It also suggests that he plans to be with her for some time to come.

Then, Jack sings that love is his reason for living. It’s the reason for the good times, and also the reason behind many of the challenges in life.

Despite all of this, no matter how hard it can be, it’s always better when they’re together.

The chorus drives this home:

Mmm, it’s always better when we’re together
Yeah, we’ll look at them stars and we’re together
Well, it’s always better when we’re together
Yeah, it’s always better when we’re together

Chorus to “Better Together” by Jack Johnson.

The second verse brings a bit more abstraction, and is equally as wordy as the first verse, but breaking it down we can see that the sentiment is similar:

And all of these moments just might find their way into my dreams tonight
But I know that they’ll be gone when the morning light sings
Or brings new things, for tomorrow night, you see
That they’ll be gone too, too many things I have to do
But if all of these dreams might find their way into my day to day scene
I’d be under the impression I was somewhere in between
With only two, just me and you, not so many things we got to do
Or places we got to be, we’ll sit beneath the mango tree now

Second verse to “Better Together” by Jack Johnson.

Johnson sings about the things he dreams about, that disappear when the morning comes. Or the stressful things that he has to deal with, and the overwhelming nature of daily life at times.

However, he says that if his dreams found his way into his waking existence, he would think he was somewhere between dreaming and awake. Note that this is the lyric that inspired the album title, In Between Dreams, and effectively describes the musical feel of the album itself.

When they are together, everything feels easy. It doesn’t seem like there is too much to do, and they can just sit beneath the mango tree and watch the time go by.

Another note, there is a mango tree on the album cover. It seems that “Better Together” inspired the entire mood of the record, which would explain its placement as the opening track.

The chorus follows once again, and then Jack sings the outro:

I believe in memories
They look so, so pretty when I sleep
And I when, and when I wake up
You look so pretty, sleeping next to me
But there is not enough time
And there is no, no song I could sing
And there is no combination of words I could say
But I will still tell you one thing
We’re better together

Outro to “Better Together” by Jack Johnson.

The lyrics here are just another way of reiterating what has already been said throughout the song. That Jack Johnson loves his wife because she makes his life better every single day.

Watch the music video for “Better Together” by Jack Johnson below.