Sorry I’m Not Sorry, I’m Gonna Blab About JACK WHITE: Happy 1st Anniversary Blunderbuss
Because I can, I’d like to wish JACK WHITE’S Blunderbuss a Happy One Year Anniversary.
Over the past year I’ve written about JACK WHITE a lot, I’ve traveled to another state – twice – to see him live (including the famous? second night show at Radio City Music Hall) and I’ve listened closely to his other discographies, that of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs (sorry, not so much The Dead Weather.) I’ve heard him on WBEZ’s Sound Opinions, the interview he did with Jenny Elisqu on Sirius XMU before his two nights at the Roseland Ballroom last spring. (Which is half a bummer because it’s not available to listen to anywhere.) I’ve read his interviews from everywhere. I watched (most of) the long sit down interview he did with Conan O’Brien. I can tell you that he’s the youngest of 10 children, raised IN Detroit (and is the only one to leave), that he was steps away from seminary school (the family business) and decided to play music instead at the last second. I know why he does things in 3’s (kind of like Lennon’s 9’s?) and why color is just as important as sound. He talks about everything being an accident in his career, which sounds ridiculous. But then again, JACK WHITE can be ridiculous.
I love Blunderbuss and I’ve listened to it – some may think – far too much. I’ve thought about all the reasons why I love this record and all the reasons why it makes me feel electric.
When people talk about why they love a certain artist or why they love a particular record, something comes alive in them. And as I try not to sound cliche (hell you know I’m a fangirl so whatever) when you experience that love for yourself, you know it’s real. It’s the most real thing a fan of music can feel.
Before Blunderbuss came out I spent the majority of my time listening to The White Stripes, s/t, and Under Great White Northern Lights. And for the first time in years, I recently revisited Consolers Of The Lonely – a masterful piece of rock music – that jogs my memory of getting lost in Santa Monica, CA in rush hour with a best friend. Stereogum’s ultimate piece on Elephant turning 10 just made me listen to a record I turned down 10 years ago. And I fell in love with songs I already knew. Every time I hear a different White Stripes record, there’s something new to fall in love with.
It’s the twisted guitar solos that sound like they’re on backwards loops. Its the heavy fuzz feeling you get. And the simplicity of what The White Stripes were. (I’ve already defended them.) I mean, Elephant opens with “Seven Nation Army” arguably one of the greatest riffs of the decade, if not of all time. The fact that The Social Network opens with “Ball and A Biscuit” is a nice telling time piece (and it’s fucking awesome. I was lucky enough to see it at Harvard, and I’m transmitted there every time I hear those opening notes. Also, trivial note, it closes with “Baby You’re A Rich Man.” Near perfect film-making there.)
But I’m getting behind and ahead of myself. Ya’ll know how much I love JACK WHITE. And yes, I like to write his name in big letters. His music has something to say and I think it says it well. In the pre-show interview piece he did with Director Gary Oldman (pre-Roseland Ballroom show) he talks about using local musicians for his sessions. How it’s beneficial to get a bluegrass player on your rock record and why local musicians just know better.
My favorite piece is when he discusses the two bands he assembled for this record and tour: one male and one female band. WHITE talks about how men are very territorial and try to one up each other when they play and how women tend to just go with the flow and do their best. Each band plays different versions of the songs and they both do them so well. He’s making himself versatile from within – something we should all take a lesson in. He treasures the old (he doesn’t even have a cell phone), owns all his own masters and only records in analog. The “Ambassador” of Record Store Day he recently set up a recording booth that recorded right to wax.
On a new VH1 Classic Show “For What It’s Worth” – the title JACK actually came up with – they opened their season with a tour of Third Man Records in Nashville. JACK is there, explaining all the weird vinyl they press. And he tells us how the Vault Club Membership doesn’t release how many people belong to it (I do!!) Simply because he wants to keep people guessing. Admittedly, they know it was stupid to release a song by balloon. But they do it anyway. JACK WHITE likes to mess with people. And that just makes me love him even more.
This is how much I love JACK WHITE: I spent hundreds of dollars and camped in a parking lot IN DELAWARE. I spent close to two hours waiting at a big stage in a field just to see him in the flesh. (And let me tell you, when you’re seeing an artist perform for the first time ever, seeing them in person is a different kind of Experience than Jimmy was talking about.) Even though the sound was crappy it was an incredible show. I’ll never forget it. Just a few songs in, it started to rain – hey, we were in a marsh – and to stop slipping all over the stage JACK took off his white leather boots and played barefoot.
I stand by my statement in saying that the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen is JACK WHITE playing the piano in the rain. It was when he played “Trash Tongue Talker” that I knew I never had to be alone again, ever. (You know…when Penny Lane says, “If you ever get lonely you can just got to the record store and visit your friends.”…) I always knew he was a drummer and that he learned guitar because his band-mate already played drums. And I guess I knew he played piano, but I’ve never seen anyone play piano like that. Maybe it’s his lanky fingers or the sort of stomp he does with his legs. But I was so impressed at the mirrors on the two pianos. They sat playing with their backs to each other, JACK was far stage left and kept his eyes on the band, and the guy on organ, by way of a mirror. It’s pure genius.
This time last year, I reviewed Blunderbuss. Since then I can tell you all the ways he is like Lennon:. WHITE writes, I woke up and my hands were gone/I looked down and my legs were long gone sounds a lot like Lennon’s simple, He got feet down below his knee/hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease. I can tell you that he hates when people call it piano-themed or mandolin-themed because you can hear those instruments most prominent, even though the song was built around something else. (It’s why I call it JACK WHITE themed.) He likes to start out with a cover song when he plays with a band, that way no one feels pressured about their song, which is why -I’m guessing – “I’m Shakin” is on this record. And a timeless rendition at that.
I wanted to give you a full track by track ballad of why this record is great, but I might be overdoing it. (Actually, this whole post overdoes it. Sorry I’m not sorry.) So just go listen to this record. Go buy it and give him your money.
What’s so great about JACK WHITE is that he is hardworking and he loves what he does. Watch him in the movies and watch him play guitar, no one loves playing music more than WHITE. Which probably means we’ll be seeing a lot of him.
I think he’s going to be putting out records for decades, like Dylan. They might not all be so great and some of them will be better than others, including Blunderbuss. But you can hear it in his weird poetry, his harmony and in the way he talks about making music. He’ll be making music for a long time, with whatever band he wants. I have no idea what else he could possibly be doing. He says he’d probably still be an upholsterer. I’m so fucking happy he’s not.