Jack White: Artist of the Decade?

Unless you've been hiding in a hermit hole during the last few weeks, you've been inundated by "best of" lists touting opinions that may or may not be agreeable.  Generally, I find myself in disagreement with the idea of such lists since opinion, particularly in the arts, is often relative.  I tend to disregard the categorical aspect of these lists, but from them make my own list of work I have never seen/heard of before and try to remedy that disparity.  This year however, I would like to give a nod to Jack White, who is well deserving of an “Artist of the Decade” title.

The beginning of the decade was marked with several White Stripes releases, including their breakthrough album White Blood Cells and the acclaimed Elephant album... and yes, Meg, (although painful to watch) is entitled to her props as well. White has often said that her drumming style is unique in its simplicity. Meg does seem to know just when not to play and anything more would crowd the lyrics and complexity of White's guitar work.

After contributing 5 songs to the Cold Mountain soundtrack, White produced and performed on Loretta Lynn's “rebirth” album Van Lear Rose. Then, in between The White Stripes' Get Behind Me Satan and Icky Thump albums, Jack formed The Raconteurs, releasing Broken Boy Soldiers in 2006 and Consolers of the Lonely in 2008.

In 2009, as a result of Jack losing his voice during a Raconteurs tour and apparently not having enough to do already, The Dead Weather was formed.  As The Kills were warming up for their turn on stage, White's voice began to fade, so Alison Mosshart stepped in.  Shorty after the show and a recording that was supposed to be just 7”, White, Mosshart, Raconteurs bassist Jack Lawrence and Queen's of the Stone Age guitarist Dean Fertita, recorded their debut album Horehound.  From this album also came one of my favorite videos of the year for the song “Treat Me Like Your Mother” (below).  According to Jack, “The song is algebraic” and the short film by director Johnathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) equals a brilliant balance between the searing and the subtle.

Last year also saw the premier of the film Under Great White Northern Lights.  The story of  The White Stripes gallivanting across the great white north opened to stellar reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and is slated to release as an epic box set this March.  It will supposedly include:  A DVD of the film itself, a DVD of White Stripes 10th anniversary show -"The White Stripes Under Nova Scotian Lights", a 16-track White Stripes live album recorded during the Canadian tour on both vinyl and CD, a live 7" (featuring "Icky Thump" and "The Wheels on the Bus"), a 208-page book with photos, AND a silk screen print...I think I just wet myself...

Finally, as if  his solid, prolific and profoundly outstanding career needed the volume cranked any further, Jack White starred in the documentary It Might Get Loud, along side the Edge and Jimmy Page, for which he released the track “Fly Farm Blues” under his own name.

Jack says he doesn't trust anyone that doesn't like Led Zeppelin...I don't trust anyone that doesn't like (or at the very least can't appreciate) Jack White.  White is not only prolific, but revolutionary in inventing and reinventing how sound is processed as music. He distorts the concepts of that which is tangible, raw and real, while simultaneously maintaining a quality untouchable brilliance.

-Emma Jeanmarie


Anonymous said...

You know, though I've slept on jack white and most of his side projects I think he definitely deserves some consideration for artist of the decade. He has stayed consistently busy for a long time.

General said...

I wouldn't be surprised if a few more white side projects popped up in the next decade.

Tim said...

Everything he touches is gold. And don't forget the film Coffee & Cigarettes which Meg and Jack played a part in.

Drewbacca said...

Great article and one I agree with 98%! More on the 98% in a minute.

I was reading through Rolling Stone's (a magazine I loathe but for some reason can't look away from) top 50 artists of the decade and they had White at #7 - a ranking which is absolutely preposterous. To their credit they put Elephant and White Blood Cells in the top 20 albums however.

So who did they have in front of White on their list you ask? Beyonce, Kanye and M.I.A. for starters. A hip-hop artist who is the biggest douche on the planet, a one hit wonder in M.I.A. (yes, great album but c'mon - that's all they've done the entire decade) and a soul singer who sounds great and looks nice, but how is she prolific in any way?

Springsteen was their number one pick and while I don't totally agree, it is hard to argue with The Boss. The guy kicks all sorts of ass at the age of 60 while looking like he's about 35.

The only one I think I can really get on board with is Radiohead. With what they've done musically and what they've done to the record distribution and sales, it's pretty fucking epic, impressive and legendary. That would be the other 2% I mentioned above.

In terms of sheer musical ability with mojo and original homages to the hidden classics of decade's past and the amount of music churned out (great music) over the past ten years, Jack White is the fucking man!

Chris said...

Jack White has played a big role in shaping Indie and Rock music over the last decade. Check out the progression here http://bit.ly/7e2SfY some other really great bands are featured.

Brent said...

The most amazing thing about Jack White is that he's been so succesful while clearly being his own man! Check out "It Might Get Loud" He holds his own with Jimmy Page. I laughed in delight watching Jack teach Jimmy "Seven Nation Army"