Jack White may be best known for his role in The White Stripes, but when I sat down to write what I thought could be a brief post about the rock legend, I soon found myself immersed in articles and videos about this complex rocker and I was worried I couldn’t do him justice. Before I continue, I must say that even though I have a huge appreciation for Jack White, I am by no means an expert. When I started reading about his process, influences, and history, I felt like I had to write a novel in order to give this guy the appreciation he deserves. So, even though I’m going to do my best to share some facts I found interesting, I urge you to explore him for yourself.

Jack White, formally known as John Anthony Gillis, is a Detroit born, former alter boy – almost priest, who turned his musical talents and love of blues into one of the most influential duos of the new millennium. Jack married Detroit bartender Meg White in 1996 and keeping true to his unorthodox ways, took her last name in the process. Jack had played in many local bands over the years, but when his new wife Meg decided to play drums with him on a whim, he felt something inspiring and refreshing – and The White Stripes were born. Their entire catalogue of blues influenced garage-rock is something you should have in your library, so I’ve chosen a favourite song from each album to try and share a glimpse of what they have to offer.

Stop Breaking Down (Self-Titled)
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/02-Stop-Breaking-Down.mp3|titles=The White Stripes – Stop Breaking Down]
This is off of their first release and I love the raw sound of this album. This song especially makes me wish I was in a sweaty Detroit bar witnessing this band bursting onto the scene. And Jack’s guitar on this track? Yes please.

You’re Pretty Good Looking For A Girl (De Stijl)
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/01-Youre-Pretty-Good-Looking-For-A-Girl.mp3|titles=The White Stripes – You’re Pretty Good Looking [For A Girl]
Betty Everett – It’s In His Kiss
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Its-In-His-Kiss.mp3|titles=Betty Everett – It’s In His Kiss]
I love the surface simplicity of a lot of The White Stripes songs, I think that’s why this is one of the first songs to hook me. I need your opinion on this one though. From 1:00 – 1:12 I hear “It’s In His Kiss” by Betty Everett (or better known for the Cher version in the movie Mermaids) It’s around 0:42 on the Betty track I hear the similarity. Anyone agree?

Hotel Yorba (White Blood Cells)
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/02-Hotel-Yorba.mp3|titles=The White Stripes- Hotel Yorba]
Fun Fact: When Hotel Yorba was released, The White Stripes were offered $1 million to use the song in a GAP ad. Even though the duo was neither rich nor famous at the time, they refused because Jack felt that a musician’s art should never be used in advertising. But in other news this song makes me want to jump around my apartment and sing along every time I hear it.

It’s True That We Love One Another (Elephant)
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/14-Its-true-that-we-love-one-another.mp3|titles=The White Stripes – It’s true that we love one another]
The female vocals on this track are by Holly Golightly – a British rocker, not the Audrey Hepburn character. I love the sweetness of the banter between Jack and Holly and the random interjections by Meg.

My Doorbell (Get Behind Me Satan)
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/03-My-Doorbell.mp3|titles=The WHite Stripes – My Doorbell]
I’m thinking he’s not talking about an alert for a visit at the front door on this one. I’d say my dating advice for this week is trying to pick up that hottie by asking when they’re gonna ring your doorbell. I’m sure it’s worked for Jack White and referencing an amazing song never hurts!

You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told) (Icky Thump)
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/02-You-Dont-Know-What-Love-Is-You-Just-Do-As-Youre-Told-1.mp3|titles=The White Stripes – You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told) 1]
On the flipped side of that coin, if you’re trying to get rid of someone, you can take some advice from Jack on this one too. “You don’t know what love is, you just do as you’re told. Just as a child of ten might act, but you’re far too old” It’s starts to get really good around 3:12 when White turns on his electric charm.

Even though Jack White is known for being the guitarist and singer for The White Stripes, he has garned as much praise for his collaborations and producing skills. There are too many impromptu performances to add to his list, but one of his recent collaborations was with Alicia Keys on the James Bond theme and rumor has it he has laid down a track with Jay-Z and is working on a project with Danger Mouse and Norah Jones called Rome. Not bad. Bodden sent me this one by Electric 6 and even though its from 2003, it’s a keeper.

Electric 6 – Danger! High Voltage
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/04-Danger-High-Voltage.mp3|titles=Electric 6 – Danger! High Voltage]
Although the singing credits on this single were listed as John S. O’Leary and the band kept the charade for a couple of years, it was revealed that it was, in fact, White adding vocals to this track. With a distinct style like White’s though, I’d say it’s pretty difficult to keep that lie going.

Only collaborating with other artisits wasn’t enough for White. Even though The White Stripes were still touring, Jack formed The Raconteurs with friend Brendan Benson and after The White Stripes took a hiatus due to Meg’s anxiety, he formed Dead Weather with The Kills vocalist Allison Mosshart.

The Raconteurs – Blue Veins
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/10-Blue-Veins.mp3|titles=The Raconteurs – Blue Veins]
The Raconteurs had to change their name in Australia because that name was already taken in the country. If you’re looking to catch them down under, make sure to look for The Saboteurs.

Dead Weather – Cut Like A Buffalo
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/03-I-Cut-Like-A-Buffalo-1.mp3|titles=Dead Weather – I Cut Like A Buffalo 1]
This venture brings out the dirty rock ‘n’ roll that Jack White has to offer, putting him on drums and vocals and I like it. I’ve never seen them live, but I’ve heard they’re a force to be reckoned with.

As far as his producing chops go, he recently helped produce Wanda Jackson’s newest release The Party Ain’t Over which is being released today. Even though I love the album and it spawned this Jack White inspired post, I must admit that I had never heard of Jackson before her collaboration with Jack White. Wanda is known as the Queen of Rockabilly and is still rocking harder at 73 than a lot of chicks I know. But when you have someone like White backing your album, you’re bound to get more attention than you’re used to. This isn’t the first time that White has worked with a country star. He produced Loretta Lynn’s album Van Lear Rose of whom he is a huge fan and helped to bring the country legend’s sound to new audiences and generations. Word has it that his success of working with country royalty is spreading and he may be in the works with Dolly Parton. If it’s true, I would love to hear a re-vamped version of 9-5.

Loretta Lynn – Portland, Oregon
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/02-Portland-Oregon.mp3|titles=Loretta Lynn – Portland, Oregon]

Wanda Jackson – Nervous Breakdown
[audio:http://www.monstersvsme.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/08-Nervous-Breakdown.mp3|titles=Wanda Jackson – Nervous Breakdown]

Although Jack White has had great success with his side projects and collaborations, his heart still lies with The White Stripes. The band’s last tour was documented in a film called Under Great White Northern Lights, which follows the band across Canada as they play a small show in every province and territory. The band took a hiatus after that tour due to Meg’s anxiety issues and I thought a great ending to this post would be the closing clip of their documentary. Meg and Jack have had a lot of ups, downs and ambiguity in their relationship, but they are still passionate about making great music together. This scene shows Meg getting emotional as Jack plays “White Moon”. No one other than the two of them know why this song makes her so emotional, but it’s a great scene to solidify what they both go through for the sake of The White Stripes.

Let me know some of your thoughts on Jack White. What are your favourite jams? Any side projects I missed? As always, I’ll be next week with more toe tappin’ jams. Happy Listening!


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