Wednesday, June 4, 2014

About Jack White...

Jack White has been talking a lot of shit about a lot of subjects lately, from how he felt Meg White wasn't exactly an encouraging teammate in The White Stripes (and was a recluse) to how The Black Keys are a watered-down version of his old band.

The thing is... he's not wrong.

The White Stripes were essentially an experiment in making music within a certain set of rules, performed within a certain aesthetic - two band members, few overdubs, based on the blues, in a three-colour peppermint scheme dress code, trying to bring out the best songs possible and the most emotion within this context, as a two-piece. Easy to tour, easy to record. Easy to write.

From one record to the next, they pushed the envelope further, and eventually veered away from the guitar-oriented songwriting to piano and old keyboards, but set to blues progressions.

The Black Keys didn't instill a rule book when they set out to make their tunes, but they made pop based on blues, too. And when WS became really big, BK made their guitar sound fatter to match. When they lacked inspiration, they brought in outside musicians and producers to help with the songwriting process, more often than not making their sound poppier, but they rarely went out of the 4/4 beat with three-or-four chord progressions in fifths or thirds.

Same formula? Check. More pop than rock? Check. Therefore: watered-down version. Absolutely.

And Meg had dated and married Jack before starting the band; by the time they made it big with White Blood Cells, they'd divorced and she was unimpressed with both his bullshit and his genius. That's just normal stuff. So when he came up with one of rock's best riffs of all time for Seven Nation Army (an improved version of something similar to what Soundgarden had come up with for Spoonman, with much better lyrics to boot), well, hourray.

He was proud to have come up with amazing shit, but just may have turned to the wrong person for approval and ''high fives''.

At this point, there is no use for (Jack) White to pretend to be humble. He is the pre-eminent rock songwriter of his generation, and the lone guitar hero ''made'' past 1991. The 1960s and 1970s gave us a slew of real ones, the 1980s tried to sell us a ton more (Slash stayed, just like the instrumental virtuosos à la Joe Satriani and the dead guys, like Dimebag Darrell), but when the grunge/anti-hero thing came along, talent was something to hide, not be proud of. And the 2000s just sucked, so here we are.

He's good, he knows it. Everything he touches turns to gold. He wants the world to acknowledge it. Fine by me.

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