Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite White Stripes Songs

As you may have heard, The White Stripes have broken up. This is terrible news. I'm still in denial. In my opinion, The White Stripes are (or were) the greatest rock band of the last fifteen years. To get that much power and sound from two people is amazing. A guitarist and a drummer. That's it. And better yet, the fact that Jack and Meg White were married when they started the band and divorced before their second album (of six) was released makes their story and longevity that much more intriguing. Think about that for a second, if you haven't already. "Look, I know you don't want to be married anymore, but let's not let that affect our band." Thank God they did keep the band together because they pumped out five more albums that were among the best of the last decade.

Jack White is one of the most underrated guitarists and songwriters around. He is a wizard on the axe, and he has written great songs in a wide variety of genres, from straight punk ("Fell In Love With a Girl") to blues ("Ball and Biscuit") to Motown-inspired soul ("My Doorbell") to heartfelt ballads ("We're Going to Be Friends") to sports anthems ("Seven Nation Army") to garage rock ("Hello Operator," among many others) to tongue-in-cheek songs ("It's True We Love One Another," "It's Not My Fault For Being Famous") to Help!-era Beatles pop ("Hotel Yorba") to fuzz rock ("Icky Thump") to bluegrass ("Little Ghost") to songs that could fit in on Led Zeppelin III ("As Ugly As I Seem") to glam ("Blue Orchid") to a song based entirely on dialogue from Citizen Kane ("The Union Forever").

Meg White is diminutive in stature and personality, but she hammers the drums with authority and precision. I think of her much like I think of Ringo. She is not the greatest technical drummer ever, but she was perfect for the band she was in. She knew when to hold back, when to go nuts, and everything in between. No one else would have worked.

Here is the official announcement from the band's website (by the way, I think the picture below the announcement on the website might have been taken at a park off of 13 Mile road a couple miles from my dead grandma's old house):

The White Stripes would like to announce that today, February 2nd, 2011, their band has officially ended and will make no further new recordings or perform live.

The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg and Jack are feeling fine and in good health.

It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve What is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.

Meg and Jack want to thank every one of their fans and admirers for the incredible support they have given throughout the 13 plus years of the White Stripes' intense and incredible career.

Third Man Records will continue to put out unreleased live and studio recordings from The White Stripes in their Vault Subscription record club, as well as through regular channels.

Both Meg and Jack hope 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. It is also done with the utmost respect to those fans who've shared in those creations, with their feelings considered greatly.

With that in mind the band have this to say:

"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. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your involvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful."

Meg and Jack White
The White Stripes
I respect that, but it doesn't mean I like it. It just can't end yet. The White Stripes have never made a bad album, so I doubt they would have done so in the future. More than anything, I am legitimately sad. When I heard rumors that they were going back to the studio this year, I was really excited. I was hoping for a tour, since I'm still stinging from their cancellation of their 2007 show at the Aragon when Meg had acute anxiety. I'm just glad I saw them in 2005 in Indy at the Murat Theatre (which was a fantastic show). Now, there's going to be a hole in rock and roll, and I keep telling myself that it can't be true -- that they'll reunite at some point in the future and everything will be okay. But I get the feeling they won't reunite.

With that, I am here today to do what The White Stripes asked: celebrate the wonderful music they made. Here are my ten favorite White Stripes songs (and 17 honorable mentions).

Honorable mention (in no particular order): "Seven Nation Army"; "Walking With a Ghost"; "It's Not My Fault For Being Famous"; "I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)"; "Slicker Drips"; "Hello Operator"; "Red Death at 6:14"; "Broken Bricks"; "Black Jack Davey"; "Ball and Biscuit"; "Blue Orchid"; "I'm Slowly Turning Into You"; "Truth Doesn't Make a Noise"; "Fell In Love With a Girl"; "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground"; "Screwdriver"; "Rag and Bone"

10. "Black Math" (Elephant, 2003)
This song just blazes from the beginning, aside from the slowed-down bridge. Jack has a phenomenal guitar solo about two-thirds of the way through.

9. "Forever For Her (Is Over For Me)" (Get Behind Me Satan, 2005)
This is one of the songs on Get Behind Me Satan that featured a marimba, but somehow made it work. It's a nice little song where each verse starts with just Jack and a marimba, then adds some drums, and eventually builds into Jack belting out the chorus.

8. "Jimmy the Exploder" (The White Stripes, 1999)
The first song off of their first album, "Jimmy the Exploder" starts off with a pounding drum beat and a plodding guitar riff. Then it kicks into a frenzied, garage punk rocker, giving the listener a sense of what they would be in store for over the next ten years.

7. "My Doorbell" (Get Behind Me Satan, 2005)
This is just a great pop song with a great beat. It's like "Lady Madonna" meets Motown. It's catchy as hell, and I love it, and that's about all I have to say about it.

6. "A Martyr For My Love" (Icky Thump, 2007)
An organ and crashing cymbals kick the song off, followed by a somewhat muted verse. The chorus is what makes this song for me. You know I love the use of anticipation in songs, and this one makes great use of it. You can tell the song is building. Then, when you're least expecting it, boom! The chorus kicks in and the organ, drums, and cymbals wail along with Jack.

5. "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" (Elephant, 2003)
This is a cover of a Burt Bacharach song, and The White Stripes kill it (in a good way). Meg's drums are crisp and Jack's guitar is jagged. Its sweet start is thrown to hell during the violent, wailing choruses, where Meg crashes away and Jack fuzzes out. It says a lot about this song that it's my favorite song off of Elephant.

4. "Hotel Yorba" (White Blood Cells, 2001)
This is another great pop song. Like I said before, this song could easily be on The Beatles Help! album. This one was definitely on my wedding cocktail hour mix, not that anyone remembers much of it.

3. "You're Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)" (De Stijl, 2000)
Every one of The White Stripes' six album starts off with a great song. This one kicks off their sophomore album, De Stijl. It's a two-minute garage pop masterpiece. Something about the song has always drawn me to it. Even after listening to this song for damn near ten years, I'm not sure exactly what it means. It appears to be about an above-average-looking female with a broken back.

2. "Jolene" (live) (Blackpool Deluxe EP, 2004)
This is a cover of a Dolly Parton song, and it's extra creepy with Jack's wavering vocals. There's something about this version that is kind of hypnotic. And then, of course, the band rocks it out during the choruses.

1. "Offend in Every Way" (White Blood Cells, 2001)
This is a gritty, garage-y song with a distorted guitar intro that leads into self-loathing lyrics about a guy who just can't seem to say anything without offending someone. The first line of the second verse has always been a favorite: "I'm comin' through the door / But they're expecting more / Of an interesting man."

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