Here’s the thing about Jack White: he’s not the Mick Jagger of our generation, and he’s not the Jim Morrison of this century. No, Jack White is not to be compared with anyone else, because he is uniquely brilliant and special. And sexy. And one of the best musicians, like, ever. Why is this dude so crush-worthy? Let me explain.
I was in seventh grade the first time I heard the White Stripes’ “Fell in Love With a Girl.” I remember eating cheddar Pringles, licking the powder off first before popping the chip into my mouth, and watching MTV. This was back in the ancient days when music videos played back-to-back for hours on end. At the age of twelve, I strictly only listened to No Doubt and Pink, but I was willing to let things slide as soon as I saw the music video was entirely comprised of Legos. Within seconds, a newfound love for rock ‘n roll and a guy with stringy black hair blossomed.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Jack’s real name was John Anthony Gillis. He kicked off his musical career by becoming an altar boy, and even played a minor role in The Rosary Murders. According to 60 Minutes, Jack almost became a priest, but then basically decided he wanted to become a rock star instead (good call, my love). He was the drummer for a band called Goober & the Peas (which kind of sounds like a band name The Rugrats would have, but whatever), which eventually lead to his first major project.
The White Stripes was comprised of husband and wife, Jack and Meg White. Jack took Meg’s name when they married, and they were together romantically until 2000, but (sort of creepily) called themselves “brother and sister” before the news of their marriage and divorce leaked. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Jack White explained, “When you see a band that is two pieces, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, you think, ‘Oh, I see. . .’ When they’re brother and sister, you go, ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’ You care more about the music, not the relationship — whether they’re trying to save their relationship by being in a band.”
The not-actually-related duo released a self-titled album in 1999, which Jack White considered their best. He told Guitar Player, “It’s the most raw, the most powerful, and the most Detroit-sounding record we’ve made.”
This is one of The White Stripes’ earliest tracks, as well as one of my favorites:
Then came De Stijl, White Blood Cells, Elephant, Get Behind Me Satan, and Icky Thump, each project reaping more and more attention, and critical acclaim. In 2007, I was a junior in high-school, and I was ready to finally see The White Stripes live in all their red, white, and black glory—not to mention, Jack White in his infamously tight, red pants. My girlfriends and I bought tickets, mentally preparing ourselves for greatness. ALAS, they cancelled the tour due to Meg’s anxiety. And then, they broke up, leaving me in shambles.
It’s a good thing the blood that runs through Jack’s veins is ACTUALLY espresso, because the guy does NOT stop producing music. In 2005, Jack White formed The Raconteurs and came out with two albums: Broken Boy Soliders, and Consolers of the Lonely. You probably remember this song from around then:
It’s been nine years(!!!) and “Steady as She Goes” is still stubbornly lodged in my brain.
After The Raconteurs, came The Dead Weather (formed in 2009), who I DID SEE in San Diego in one of the last Street Scene festivals, ever. The Dead Weather, consisting of Jack White, Alison Mosshart, Dean Fertita, and Jack Lawrence, was essentially pure sex in music form. It was seductive, bluesy, raw, old-school rock that was just another way for Jack White to show off his boundless musical finesse.
Listen to “I Can’t Hear You,” which Pitchfork described as “a fiery lovers’ argument, one staying maddeningly calm and steady while the other bleats and rages.” If you ever saw a live performance of The Dead Weather, I think you would get that kind of dynamic; if Jack White is on drums, Allison is screaming into the microphone, and if Allison is on guitar, smoking a cigarette, Jack is yowling at the audience. They kind of take turns, like that.
It wasn’t long before Jack ventured off on his own. In 2012, White self-produced Blunderbuss, his first-ever solo album. It was quieter, more country-based, and lovelorn. FINALLY, Jack White started writing deeply personal songs and showing hints of vulnerability and heartache.
“Love Interruption,” gives me the chills and you should listen to it, because I want to share my chills.
Before Blunderbuss, and his latest album, Lazaretto (released last month), he sang “Another Way to Die” with Alicia Keys, a song written for Quantum of Solace. He even made a brief appearance in Cold Mountain and contributed five songs for the score. I’m guessing his brief thing with Renee Zellweger had something to do with this role.
Lately, Jack’s live performances have been coasting through the Internet, making their presence known, simply because a) they’re amazing, and b) he’s covering everything from Lorde’s “Royals” to Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” and oh my god, you guys, I want to be at all the concerts.
I’m gonna leave you with this recent clip that shows White performing the White Stripes song, “Icky Thump,” and seamlessly transitioning into “99 Problems” and then “Miserlou” by Dick Dale & The Del Tones. Spoiler alert: you will lose your marbles watching him completely own the stage.
And that, folks, is why I’m crushing so hard on Jack White. ‘Nuf said.