The White Stripes never cease to amaze me. I’d love to say I was a fan of theirs since the beginning, but, alas, I wasn’t. My introduction to them was White Blood Cells– I thought that would be the last time I’d hear from Jack and Meg White. Boy, was I wrong. With each album they made, it was clear to me that they were the real deal. This duo proved time and time again they could reinvent their sound, but still manage not to alienate their fan base. These are my favorite songs.
“Ball and Buscuit” on Elephant
I’ve always considered Jack to be a great guitarist and he doesn’t disappoint here. Clocking in at nearly seven minutes, the song starts off innocently enough. It’s bluesy and not confrontational, almost like they’re circling around their prey waiting for the right moment to strike. Then after that second verse, Jack lets loose on his guitar. I always find something new to like about the song every time I listen to it.
“Jolene” (Live) on Under Great White Northern Lights
Originally performed by country legend Dolly Parton, Jack holds his own on the vocals. He pleads with Jolene not to take his man and this live version really captures the desperation in his voice.
“Conquest” on Icky Thump
This one’s really different from their normal sound. You’ve got some horns thrown in there and it almost sounds like a mating call with Jack belting out, “ConnnnNNNNNnnnQuest!” Which would make sense, since the song is about a woman hunting down her man as “prey.”
“Fell in Love With a Girl” on White Blood Cells
This is the first song I’d ever heard by them (most likely, it’s the first song you heard by them too). It takes me back to my senior year in high school. I remember somebody telling me that not only were The White Stripes brother and sister, but they used to be married! Only later did I learn that they weren’t actually brother and sister, which made me feel a lot better about that whole marriage thing.
“Effect and Cause” on Icky Thump
“Effect and Cause” sounds like Jack and Meg are just having fun. Jack even laughs a few times during the song. Is he laughing at his clever lyrics? Or, maybe, those laughs were actually planned. You never know with those two.
“Little Ghost” on Get Behind Me Satan
I’m sure one day Jack was sitting around with Meg and said, “You know, Meg, we don’t have any songs about ghosts.” Meg nodded. Then he said, “Let’s write a love song about a ghost. Sound good?” Meg stared at Jack. And this was the birth of “Little Ghost.”
“Seven Nation Army” on Elephant
I can’t help but tap my foot or bop my head when I hear this song. I’ve probably heard it a thousand times and I’ll probably hear it another thousand times within the next few years. Okay, so my Ipod says I’ve only listened to it twenty times, but the point is that I could listen to it a thousand times.
“This Protector” on White Blood Cells
Meg and Jack share the vocals on this one. It’s a haunting song and I’m still not entirely sure what it’s about. Meg isn’t as good a singer as ol’ Jack is, but I kind of wish they had done more duets together. This one is quite beautiful, but now it makes me a little sad to hear it. Will they ever play together again? Surely the answer is yes.
If you are a fan of the White Stripes, or just curious to learn a little more about them, check out this review for their documentary Under Great White Northern Lights.