Sunday, February 6, 2011

RIP, White Stripes.

Well, we all knew deep down this day would come. Ever since Icky Thump & embroidered suits—then a hiatus full of Raconteurs & Dead Weather, Jack White spinning ever further into full-sounding pseudoblues, until the simple days of De Stijl seemed almost out of reach—a dream upon waking—& now, it's official. As of Feb 2, 2011, the Stripes have split, so we here at my computer have decided to eulogize this long-fizzing firestorm—to recall the scratchy, scrappy excellence of a duo raised on Motown, with bar chords in their fingers & battery acid for veins.

This break is an especial bummer for me, of course—not only because I'm a big fan of the band, but because I've been one for so long. Still in single-digits, just as I was reaching the crest of my Crap Music Phase (e.g., Britney, N*Sync, Avril)—when I was on the cusp of becoming a real person—my mom & stepdad were in the process of discovering this upstart band from Detroit. Perhaps sensing my readiness to evolve out of corporate pop, they dressed me in a t-shirt with a peppermint on it & played this new music constantly in the car: quick, itchy, like it was bored with itself before it began—& I became hooked. To this day, I credit The White Stripes, White Blood Cells, & especially De Stijl with shaping my music taste—or, at the very least, informing it greatly: teaching me first & firsthand what Platonic perfection there is in the 2-minute song, the wailing guitar, the shouted lyric—simplicity, sincere & so excellent.

In that vein, here are some songs:

When I Hear My Name.

Jimmy the Exploder.


Dead Leaves & the Dirty Ground.

I'm Finding it Harder to Be a Gentleman.

Little Room.

Fell in Love With a Girl.
NOTE: NOT the Joss Stone version. ]

Hotel Yorba.

You're Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl).

Hello Operator.

Little Bird.

Truth Doesn't Make a Noise.

Sister Do You Know My Name.
[ This one might be my favorite. ]

Then, of course, comes the break—or, rather, the break-out: "Seven Nation Army"—a great song, undeniably, & therefore rightly famous, but it's still sometimes frustrating to view the band from 3l3phant on, robbed somewhat of their young garage spark. Icky Thump is especially, well, icky—not categorically, mind you: it's fine if experienced in a vacuum, but when you consider that it represents the latter canon of the band that brought you "The Big Three Killed My Baby," then Perspective, she depresses.

This is why, ultimately, as upsetting as the break-up of a band you love inevitably is, I really respect the Stripes' choice: as reiterated in their letter, they "hope that this decision isn’t met with sorrow by their fans but that it is seen as a positive move done out of respect for the art and music that the band has created." They've mustered the sense to quit while they're (more or less) ahead, to leave done what's done & trust their canonizing to our hands:

The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to.

Amen, utmost, ever & on. So, let's go to it.

Today's Headphone Fodder:

Apple Blossom—The White Stripes.

[ Recorded with haste, & (pseudo-)intentionally amateurish—as one ought to be, I think, when covering Mr. White. ]

This was, quite literally, the first song I ever learned to play on the guitar. Am, Dm, E (with the optional G). Plain, adorable, plain adorable—sweet but minor—never saccharine.

ALSO: for fun: The White Stripes cover "Moonage Daydream" quite well, proving themselves fantastic beyond measure.

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