The White Stripes – Introductory Page

The White Stripes

Reviews:

 

Jack White and I got some beef to settle. But I don’t think this is the time or place to do it. No, not on the White Stripes page. See, White Stripes Jack is the scrappy blues-lovin’ fella from Detroit with the little boy haircut who wears tight red pants and scrounged his way to unlikely fame alongside his bosomy “big sister” Meg. Not the later, asshole Jack who, clad in black leather, plays drums for a terrible band, enjoys insulting and humiliating his fans on the internet, and runs an exclusionary vinyl empire out of Nashville. That Jack needs a good ole fashioned ass whuppin’, but I won’t give it to him just yet. This is a forum for discussing the old Jack. The one everybody likes.

Not that the two Jacks aren’t one and the same. Or genuine. They’re both acts—every rock star has an act, you know?—it’s just that one is a lot more convincing and unique than the other. And you and I both know that the White Stripes would’nt have gotten anywhere without their “act.” Strip away the peppermint color scheme, the sibling fallacy, and the childlike perspective of their songs, and what have you got? Two freakishly pale people playing basic garage rock that falls just south of the border between “primal” and “simplistic” with one of the worst drummers ever to appear within a five mile radius of a microphone. With that stuff? You’ve got perhaps the most popular and successful grassroots rock ‘n roll band of the 2000s.

Not that they didn’t have great songs. They did. You know them. I know them. Hundreds of millions of drunken European soccer fans know them. But the White Stripes’ success can, I think, be mostly chalked up to being in the right place at the right time – with the right attitude and the right clothes. Music was desperate for a kick in the ass when the band’s breakthrough album, White Blood Cells, came out in 2001. Mainstream rock was all faceless corporate schlock, alternative rock had taken its irreparable first steps toward Total Pussification, and teenybopper pop was taking over the world. And although the so-called “garage rock revival” that the Stripes spearheaded didn’t claim all that much longevity, or even result in particularly large quantity of good music, it at least reminded people it was possible to make good music without straying too far from the garage – which is always a good thing to keep in mind. People loved how simple and stripped down they were; we didn’t even know Jack was one of the most brilliant and distinctive guitarists in the fucking world until after he became famous – most of the time he was just playing the same basic three chord rock that your idiot 13-year old nephew is futzing around with in your basement all the damn time! And somehow, Meg’s drumming, not far removed from a five year old noisily banging her toys on the floor, worked in this context, emphasizing just how threadbare a form of rock ‘n roll she and Jack were willing to play.

But even more than their simplicity, people loved their image. How different they were. The red, white and black color scheme. The seeming childlike innocence. The numerology. The weird, potentially incestuous mystery of “are they related? Fucking? Wish to be fucking?” Turns out it was “used to be fucking” – in case you’ve fallen for one of their cover stories, they were in fact married, then started the band in 1997, got divorced in 2000, and carried on the band afterwards. Who knows how they pulled that off, but hell, if the Fleetwood Mac dudes can do it, then a weirdo like Jack White can do it. But the point is, they were like no other band we had ever seen before. They were like lots of other bands we had heard before, of course, and although they had their own quirky take the same old blues based garage rock that Detroit bands had been playing since before Jack and Meg were born, everything else about them was much more distinctive.

I came to Jack White through his more conventional outfit, the Raconteurs, so I tend to think of the obvious restrictions that the White Stripes placed on him as limiting rather than empowering, and I don’t think the Stripes were ever that consistently brilliant. However, because I met my girlfriend on a White Stripes message board (which I swear sounds way less nerdy than it actually is), they are indirectly responsible for most of the happiness in my life. And if you ask me, that’s a much greater contribution to society than even “Seven Nation Army.” So thanks, Jack and Meg.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what Meg has been up to since the band broke up earlier this year, I can tell you: sitting at the bar at the Magic Stick in Detroit. She’s there like every time I go. And lemme tell ya, she can fuckin’ pound brews. I don’t know how much longer her leftover cash from the White Stripes is gonna last, and that woman needs some goddamn beer money. So I’m going to start a charitable fund for that very purpose. Send your donations to:

Jeremy Winograd
P.O. Box My Wallet
Kilpat 08
 
I’ll make sure it gets to her.


One Comment

  1. Emily wrote:

    I’m so looking forward to this set of reviews. The White Stripes were my musical epiphany as a teenager. Yeah, I was raised on good music thanks to my mom, so I knew all about Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin and all the other important “good classic artists”. But the White Stripes were the first band I discovered on my own and pursued on my own, and from there I started getting into all sorts of good, current bands – local and otherwise. Throw in the impact the aforementioned White Stripes message board has had on my life and it’d be impossible to deny that Jack and Meg were a major formative influence during my adolescence and beyond. I’m sad that it’s over and I’m sad that they more or less fizzled out the way they did, but opening to this page and seeing that picture of my (once? It hurts to admit that) favorite band brought it all flooding back. I think I’ve got some reissued Stripes records to spin again soon for the first time in too long.


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