Jack White Refuses to let Rock and Roll Die

-Mike Munoz

February 2nd 2011 will always stand out as a dark day in history for me, as it will forever mark the day the White Stripes broke up. The blues-garage-rock duo who restored my faith in rock n’ roll had officially disbanded after years of bringing rock to an otherwise rock-less world.

If I had a list of “top 5 concerts to see before I die,” the White Stripes were numbers 1 through 5. The duo was notorious for performing without a set list and always found a way to make more noise than anyone else with nothing more than a guitar and drum set. When the two of them cancelled their final leg of the Icky Thump tour, I figured it would be a while before I would get another chance to see them live. Now I knew it would never happen.

For the next few weeks, I dealt with my depression by listening to White Stripes records in a dark room while I cried myself to sleep. I tried to reassure myself with the possibility of seeing White with The Raconteurs or Dead Weather sometime in the near future, but it just wasn’t the same.

Fast forward to January 30th, 2012.

I was casually browsing through music blogs when a headline caught my eye: Jack White was working on a solo album to be released at the end of April. And to make the news even sweeter the single “Love Interruption” had also been released. The news got even better when a string of tour dates were released a few days later which included a headlining slot at this year’s Sasquatch! Music Festival in Washington. Needless to say, I got a ticket.

While I was overwhelmed at the prospect of finally getting to see Jack White perform live, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of music he would be playing. His first single was no doubt an exciting peak into his highly anticipated album. But I couldn’t help but notice it had a bit more of a folksy flare that I was used to seeing from him. Clearly his time in Nashville was having an influence on his music.

My fears were quickly dismissed when Jack performed on SNL. Somewhat predictably, he played “Love Interruption” for his first song. But when Jack came out a second time, he introduced us to his second single “Sixteen Saltines,” and loud, fast in-your-face rock song that reminded me of why I fell in love with his music in the first place.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, April 24th was here: the release date of Jack White’s solo album, Blunderbuss. As soon as I woke up I found the album on Spotify and must have listened to it 3 times before finally heading to my first class.

Blunderbuss simply seemed to have it all. Songs like “I Guess I Should Go to Sleep” confirmed my theory of the country influence Nashville has had on Jack, but more than anything, the album seems to pay tribute to White’s love for old school roots rock. White smashes the keys of his piano like Jerry Lee Lewis on “Trash Tongue Talker” and does a fantastic cover of Rudy Toombs’ “I’m Shakin.”

As if all of this wasn’t enough, White decided to promote his new album with a concert. And by teaming up with YouTube and Gary Oldman he was able to stream the whole thing live on the internet. I heard rumors that any song from any of White’s bands would be up for grabs, but I tried not to get my hopes up. These rumors were quickly confirmed when White opened the set with “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” a White Stripes song.

Of the 20 songs performed, 7 of them were from his solo album, 6 were White Stripes songs, 2 were from the Raconteurs and 2 were from the Dead Weather (the other 3 included 2 covers and a collaboration single White did with Danger Mouse).  Overall, the show was a very encouraging glimpse of what we might be able to expect at Sasquatch, but the most promising moment came at the end, when White cranked up the volume and played arguably his most famous song, “Seven Nation Army.”

If you haven’t already guessed from the tone of this article, the term “man-crush” doesn’t fairly express my love for Jack White. Even in his early days, White always dared to be louder and more raw than cookie-cutter pop bands. And even with a new band a more polished sound, Jack White continues to pump life back into rock and roll.

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