There aren’t any more rock stars like Keith Richards or Keith Moon anymore. Eccentric genius’ with scary (but somehow really cool) drug problems just aren’t around like they were in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The radio would have you believe that good old-fashioned rock and roll is on the decline, too. But they’d be wrong. Along with The Black Keys, Jack White is the current face of rock music and while he (probably) isn’t hooked on heroin the guy can wail on a six string. He seems like a mental case, too, just watch any interview he gives. That mental case is releasing his long awaited solo debut, Blunderbuss this Tuesday. All of a sudden it’s been over a decade since The White Stripes hit it big with White Blood Cells and in his honor, we here at WYPITW have decided to revisit out some of his most interesting moments. In no particular order, here we go:
His Relationship with Conan – Based on their history, it seems like White and Conan O’Brien are BFFs. When The White Stripes were still together they appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien as well as The Tonight Show before Conan was ousted for the Chin. They performed on the last episode of Late Night and Conan has even recorded songs at White’s Third Man studios in Nashville. Here’s Conan doing a spoken word version of Frankenstein, which was done there.
“Hold Up!” with The Raconteurs – A lack of rocking hard has never been one of Jack White’s problems. The White Stripes have a few barnburners on every one of their albums but “Hold Up!” from the second Raconteurs album can stand with his finest work. It’s an absolute balls-to -the-wall guitar song and just when it seems like it could go anywhere it’s over. In 20 years if there’s an all-inclusive Jack White’s Greatest Hits album, this should be on it. Here’s “Hold Up!” live at Glastonbury in 2008.
White’s Personal Life – By my own admission this list entry is a total cop out but believe me, it’s for the sake of saving space. It couldn’t decide if I should point out for the umpteenth time that he claimed to be the brother of his actual ex-wife and drummer Meg White, beating the shit out of the lead singer of the Von Bondies, when he married model Karen Elson in a canoe, or the fact that when the two divorced in 2011 they threw a big party. See why I had to use the “Personal Life” umbrella? He sums up his own life best in the song “My Fault for Being Famous.”
“Hotel Yorba” and White Blood Cells – Let’s think back to 2001 when White Blood Cells took the world by storm as a part of the “new rock” movement along with the Vines, the Strokes, and the Hives. “Fell in Love With A Girl” was the biggest single (and still seriously kicks ass by the way) from Blood Cells but the rest of the album must’ve sounded out of left field when it came out in the world of Limp Bizkit, especially the Citizen Kane referencing “The Union Forever.” Side note: At summer camp this one time a counselor asked me to put on a CD for the whole cabin to listen to. Sensing my chance to become resident cool guy in the group, I chose “Hotel Yorba” over the popular (yet overplayed) choice “Crazy Train.” My disappointment at the event must’ve been strong because I still remember not only being mocked by my own counselor, but by his counselor jackass counselor-buddies next door. If by some chance you’re reading this, Luke, I was right all along. Suck it.
Remember when this was on MTV?
White’s Sometime-Inaccessibility – For all the big riffs and hits like “Seven Nation Army,” there’s a surprising amount of challenges in the catalogs of the White Stripes, Raconteurs, and the Dead Weather. Some songs take a few listens to sink in but once they do, they can be the richest part of an album. There are quiet songs, weird songs, and some that smolder away before they really get started. For instance, here’s “Forever for Her (is Over for Me)” which sounds like it was recorded with instruments from a day-care.
This scene from It Might Get Loud: