Falling in Love with the White Stripes
I Fell in Love With a Band – How The White Stripes Started and Ended an Era.
It was just about this time last year that the news broke- The White Stripes were to break up. The band said, “It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way. The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore…The White Stripes belong to you now.”
Struck with discomfort not because one of my favorite bands of all time was calling it quits – as it had been nearly four years since they were truly relevant – but because it was the end of the archetypal journey, a final loss of innocence.
With the birth of bands like The Strokes, The Shins, The Walkmen, and The White Stripes in the late 20th/early 21st century a music revolution started that has yet to cease now over twelve years later. Whether you call it the “garage rock” revival, the post-punk era, or the rise of “indie rock,” it’s impossible to deny the impact that those slew of bands; especially The White Stripes have had on a dying industry.
I’m not here to pontificate on the Stripes and their ability to resurrect an industry, because I don’t think even if John Lennon and George Harrison came back from the dead to reform The Beatles with Paul and Ringo the music industry could be saved. But Jack and his sidekick Meg had a quirky character, a raw rock n’ roll edge, a blues twist, and a shy sense of self that is rare and charming within a business full of big heads and empty hearts.
There are the many quirks about Jack – he sewed ten inch vinyl into retro furniture and sold it off; he refused to work with anyone involved with any recreational or habitual drug use; or he worshipped the back-woods blues legends that you haven’t heard of over the demigods that you have. Or the quirks about Meg – her mediocre/metronome drum style was overpowered and complimented by her cute smile and Jack’s heavy guitar; she stayed living in the Detroit suburbs through The Stripes mega-success; or her maiden name as the centerpiece for the bands simple but epic existence.
The obsession with black, white and red; the number three; analog recording in three weeks or less; improvisation. It’s almost like the mystique behind the White Stripes helped build up and define their hype. I guess that would be the case if it wasn’t for their incredible music. There are the blues/rawk-romps like “Black Math,” “Seven Nation Army,” or “Broken Bricks.” There are the pop hits like “My Doorbell,” “Fell in Love with a Girl,” or “Little Cream Soda.” And their are the lovable-huggable acoustic songs like “We’re Going to be Friends,” “Hotel Yorba,” and “Effect and Cause.” There’s a bit of everything for everyone with Jack White’s simple but infectious guitar sliding, screaming, screeching and cooing through it all.
So a year after the band broke up, Jack announces a solo record. Blunderbuss will be out in April on his own label, Third Man Records and will be great, I’m sure. But driving down to the local record store to snag a copy on vinyl won’t be the same as it was before. It won’t be like the time my brother downloaded De Stijl and White Blood Cells on Limewire (remember that?) in our parents basement and told me “Stop listening to that jam band shit. These guys are like Zeppelin and Bob Dylan mixed.”
So the million dollar question is: Would I rather have a Jack White solo record or another White Stripes record? As The Strokes proved with their less-than-stellar LP last year, there is such a thing as “wearing out your welcome” – especially in a flavor-of-the-week business like music. In order to cope and cut the losses, I’ll make a clean break, rip the band-aid off swiftly. Instead of asking the “what ifs” I’ll look forward to Blunderbuss with eager and open-minded ears. As I do so, I’ll probably stare at the copy of Elephant above my bed and thank Jack and Meg for all the thumping and shredding they have given me all these years.
This piece was first published at Manik Music. Click to go to site.
Featured image courtesy of: Swotti.com