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What Would People Think?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Why The White Stripes Rock So Much

So this morning I've been stuck in my apartment because 55,000 people decided to take a little jog down our street on the 4th of July.

So what to do but sit around and glory in the new White Stripes album? Icky Thump is everything I could want and have come to expect from Jack and Meg White - unpredictable, wildly creative, increasingly complex, and filled (even at its most angst-filled moments) with the joy of creation. (Speaking of the joy of creation, see Ratatouille.)

It got me thinking....what is it that I love so much about the Stripes? Why did I choose my wedding colors (I now confess to myself) to match the White Stripes' color scheme? Why did I recently refer to Jack White as "the greatest human being living"? Why do I fantasize about getting Meg White to drum for my college roommates' band, Unexpectedly Sober? What is the secret of the White Stripes' greatness?

First off, I think it all starts with Meg. Yes, I know Jack is the creative genius of the group. (His work with The Raconteurs and producing Loretta Lynn's album prove that.) Some have criticized Meg for her simplistic drumming or even suggested she should be kicked out of the band. Those who make such suggestions are the dumbest creatures on the planet, and I include particularly dumb amoeba in that statement. The simplicity of her drumming is the point. It anchors the music.

You see, the White Stripes are all about taking the basic elements of rock, country, and blues.....breaking them down, and putting them back together again in new and interesting ways. Their first album was very simplistic - just guitars and drums, very basic riffs, screechy vocals, and not much else. If I wasn't already a fan by the time I bought the album, I wouldn't have liked it. But with each successive album, they've taken that spine of simple blues rock and reached out in new, interesting, and increasingly complex directions. The trick is to take Jack's wild creativity and rein it in. The simplicity of Meg's drumming, combined with the rigid formality of the band's formula, allows Jack's creativity to ooze out in new and interesting ways.

Of course the other element is that Jack White is a freakin' genius, melding together elements of rock, country, blues, punk, and pop like so many Legos. He's the guy who came up with the concept of the band. He's the one with all those hyperactive freakouts during concerts. (I keep thinking of the Raconteurs's "Broken Boy Soldier" and the way he screams "the boy....THE BOY".....you have to have been there.) He writes songs about Citizen Kane, lost love, the first day of school, Rita Hayworth, yard sales, the paranoia fame causes, and whatever the hell "Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine" is about. I never know what the next song will contain and I LOVE that.

It also helps that they put all their energy into their concerts. Jack wandering around the stage playing a plethora of different instruments like a hyperactive child let loose in a toy store. Meg bashing away at those drums like they teased her in middle school....and yet looking like she's falling asleep. I've been to two White Stripes concerts and I'm seriously contemplating seeing them again at Austin City Limits. Every single time I've been impressed at how two people can kick an entire audience's ass. I leave their concerts exhilarated and exhausted.

So, it's all about (1) Meg's drumming, (2) Jack's creativity, (3) the energy and unpredictability. Well, I'm glad to see my powers of analysis can break the greatest band of the first decade of the 21st century down to a 3-part list.

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So.............................how have you been doing? What's up in your life? Feel free to ignore the entire White Stripes analysis and just tell me about your life. Or tell me why I'm wrong/right about something.

Just comment.

1 Comments:

  • I wonder if the White Stripes were thinking of your Legos analogy when creating the video for "Fell In Love With a Girl". Frankly, I wonder if you were thinking of the video when you made the analogy.

    You should try and do ACL -- I think Jeff and I are going to. At least we discussed it at the wedding -- since then he's been in Tahiti so I haven't gotten to formulate plans. Sweet mother of God, can you imagine what would happen to the city of Austin if we three descended upon it as a unit? (As a side note, those bastards pitted Arcade Fire up against the White Stripes -- two of my favorite releases of this year. Decisions, decisions... since I've already seen AF on the Neon Bible tour -- and they are a-may-zing -- I'll probably have to hit up the Stripes.)

    By Blogger Mike, at 7/05/2007 10:32 AM  

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