Possessing artistic sensibilities, the precision of an engineer, the shrewdness of a businessman, and the existentialist knack for self-induced hardship (and the resulting self-sacrificing credit), Jack White became a future legend. rock.
His work ethic, diversity of thought, introspective vulnerability, manual dexterity, brotherhood, and religious indoctrination add up to a complex, thoughtful, and irreverent iconoclast. One of his main influences is a man who created luxurious living amenities for the 19th century Robber Barons.
I posit that by belonging to a cohort called Gen-X, Jack White creates art that makes sense of the chaotic and turbulent childhood of our generation. His multi-pronged approach to expression is not limited to The Lost Generation. He speaks of Love: his language is Art.
Bring the palms to life
White Stripes’ debut album was released in 1999, when Jack White was 24 years old. His last album will be released in July 2022. He will be 47 years old. It seems that everything has changed. And listening to it now, it’s obvious that it is. And didn’t.
Insightful and prickly with the press, I’m interested in Jack’s take on the common theme (love) running through his multimedia empire/operation/effort/passion. Just as a song influences a chef cooking a dish, how does crafting, writing, producing, designing, and myriad other interests intersect with his music?
How did he become famous? Certainly not by being press-friendly. Or a quotable sound bite. Public and private, personal and professional legal battles sent ripples every time they hit the fan. His thoughtful responses and legal countermeasures paint in the colors left out by an incomplete or incompetent gotcha press.
The genres and iterations of his music parallel the trials and tribulations of his life. Videos like “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” foreshadow some of the desolation and isolation of the past two Covid years.
I didn’t feel so bad until the sun went down
Then I go home
Nobody to wrap my arms around
Wrap my arms around
Well any man with a microphone
Can tell you what he likes the most
And you know why you love at all
If you think of the Holy Spirit
If you think of the Holy Spirit
Becoming a father and navigating marital legal issues and the public spillover of personal/professional “quarrels” had a lasting effect, so much so that he never saw himself engaged again in the future.
The youngest child with nine siblings 7 to 21 years older. Growing up in the Catholic Church, an altar boy who almost entered the seminary. 21-year-old upholstery business owner who designed his own uniforms, made a paycheck and named it after a 1949 film about a faded pulp fiction novelist.
His diversity of songs ranges from Jolene at You are the sun of my life at Temporary land at love is selfish at War cry. An intellectual foundation and contrarian nature forged in the analog childhood of a digital rock star prepared him for this?
His list of collaborations includes a Who’s-Who of Rock and Country Hall of Famers, Pop and Hip-Hop Giants, Known and Unknown Sessions, Music Genre Jumpers and Gangsta Rappers. He even installed a microphone in the gutters of his house to associate himself with this sound.
Analyzing the scope and extent of his work – all of his work – will take some time. Full disclosure: My level of familiarity with Jack White prior to this assignment was limited to his commercially viable pop songs. Seven Nation Army that I had heard as well as the James Bond duet song. I saw it on SNL. He was more of a celebrity sighting for me than a daily ritual.
I’ve been immersed in all things JW for the past 48 hours, and my head is still exploding and ringing. I recruited my sister, a music industry veteran, and my millennial son, who shared that his love of White’s music in high school was based on hot metal-goth chicks being in it. . And he wanted to score.
Both came to White and his music with admiration, but for completely different reasons. The music pro sister respected the entrepreneur and the promotional activities that gave her institutional musical freedom. Something was missing radically to hear him say it.
I found brighteners quotation of White who explains his reason for making some of his offerings rare and valuable.
We sell a Wanda Jackson split record for 10 bucks, eBay pinball flips and sells it for 300… If 300 is what it’s worth, then why isn’t Third Man Records selling it for 300? If we sell them more, the artist gets more, the pinball machine gets nothing. We are not here to make the fins live. We’re here to give fans what they want.
don’t get me wrong, we could make you twenty thousand pieces of different colors, and they’re $20, and you’ll pay $20 for them, and you’ll never talk about them, never want them, never hunt for them, etc. . why ebay flippers, who aren’t real fans, would dictate the price, make all the profits (received to artist and label) and take the records out of the hands of real fans. there’s a guy waiting in a black suv down the block from the third man who hires homeless people to go buy him tricolors when they’re on sale. doesn’t even get out of his car. should it be charged ten dollars or two hundred? don’t be spoiled, don’t insult people who try to give you what you want.
My son said he hadn’t listened to or followed White since high school. He went back and listened again, saying he was surprised to find out how well it held. His assumption was that it would feel nostalgic.
This brings me to the songs of Jack White. More specifically, they are mostly about love. Love won. Lost love. Love-hate. The desired love. Rejected love. He writes and sings about the beauty of love and the pain of love. Most poignant, about the absence of love.
In two against one, a collaboration with Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi, the album project is based on the film scores of Ennio Morricone of Spaghetti Western fame. White wrote the lyrics to three of the songs by listening to the music and singing stream-of-consciousness lyrics into a portable recorder while riding around in a car. Those who spoke to him, he fleshed them out. The video is a masterpiece of texture: sound and visual.
One, I feel like it’s two to one.
One, I’m already fighting, so what’s another?
One, the mirror is a trigger and your mouth is a gun.
One, luckily for me, I’m not the only one.
And if he looks like me in your reflection
Plan to add your own combat to this dimension.
So tell her it’s not free for all,
There are only three
It’s just you and me against me.
Influences is one of 10 squares of interest when you land on its homepage at Jack White Art and Design. A pulp fiction artist. Industrial designers. Visual artist. Guy who looks like he invented Ikea furniture. And a post-Civil War cabinetmaker who was commissioned by the Big Four Railroad Magnates.
Going through his portfolio of projects says more about him than any love song or rich man trophy. The one that particularly impressed me is Clark Park Baseball Field. Conceived and funded anonymously in 2009 because it was where he “learned to play baseball as a kid in the 1980s”. As a softball dad, I salute you.
In 100 years, Jack White will be a legend of the 21st century. Not a rock-star legend. But a legend legend. Why can I be so sure? Because he doesn’t think of old thoughts. His brain sees the same things in life that we all see. He just turns those things into something completely new, completely irreverent, but now, completely necessary. Like building a guitar out of a plank, a piece of wire, and an old Coke bottle. We could just watch him putt for hours.
It could get noisy | “Jack White Builds a Guitar Then Plays It” Official Music Video (2009)
Like the launch of a full-circulation quarterly magazine, maggot brain, intentionally and proudly without a website in 2022. Like being anti-digital until it’s pro-digital. Growth happens with an open mind. The words on its website downplay its mission. In art. In the design. And, he proves it, in Life.
All of these actions add up to the Now. I don’t know if Jack White killed his demons. And now I’m not sure he wants it. After all, he rode them this far.
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat