The Jack White Conundrum

Some questions are just really hard to answer. Questions like where the hell is Gendry on Game on Thrones and what summer beer to drink and one hot dog or two. They’re just unanswerable; harder to answer than something as rudimentary and anti-climactic as what’s the meaning of life. Because that’s simple. The meaning of life is to not worry about the meaning of life and just concentrate on life itself.

That’s philosophy. You’re welcome.

Here’s another question that I can’t answer- am I fan of Jack White or not?

No matter how hard I try, I can’t answer it. I want to say yes. I really do. But I also can’t say yes with any kind of conviction. All I can say is…I’m not sure. But I don’t want to say that. I want to say that either yes, Im a Jack White fan or no, I’m not a Jack White fan and then I want to provide reasons why. That doesn’t seem like a lot to ask.



White’s latest album, Lazaretto, comes out next week and is currently streaming on i-Tunes. He’s made news recently by continuing to have beef with the Black Keys and throwing shade at singers like Adele (which I thought was illegal,) Lana Delray and Duffy. He’s since backed off those comments, beefs and shades, but the damage kind of seems to have been done and reaffirmed something I don’t have to wonder if it’s true or not because it is- Jack White is kind of a douche.

He also might be a vampire.


Lazaretto is a good album. On par with his other albums, especially his most recent album, Blunderbuss. There’s some good rock songs, one or two great rock songs and some meh songs. In my mind, that last sentence kind of sums up how I feel about White, which could also be described as “inconsistent.” Because he is. Jack White is maddeningly inconsistent. I would never see him live because I’d never be sure what I was going to get.

Hard-rocking White? Sure, I’m all in.

Weird-rocking White? Maybe, if tickets were free.

Old-timey White? Yeah, probably not.

I’m all for an artist experimenting. I think it’s good for them and usually good for the audience. But White seems to never stop experimenting. He’s a train that doesn’t stop when it approaches the station and requires you to try your best to jump on as it slows just enough for you to give it your best college try. Once in a while, sure. Sounds fun. But constantly? Hmmm.

And that brings me back to my initial question- am I Jack White fan or not?

Well, I love the song “Freedom at 21.”

It’s a Holy Shit! Song in my book and I still remember the first time I heard it, when White was on The Colbert Report. It’s a blistering rock song. It’s the good side of White shining brightest and it’s on my list of songs I can always listen to. But it came as kind of a surprise because up to that point the only song I had heard from Blunderbuss was the first single, “Love Interruption,” which is a good song, but a song I considered more interesting, than good.

“Love Interruption” didn’t get me to listen to Blunderbuss, “Freedom at 21” did. And when I did listen to the whole album, I…well, I don’t think I have ever listened to the whole album. I lost interest. I do lose interest, every single time I give it a run. I usually start to fade around “I’m Shakin’,” even though it’s a great tune and a killer version of a legendary song. The video is pretty dope too.

The video highlights the duplicity of White both expertly and unfortunately. He almost forces you to pick a side. I don’t want to pick a side, especially when we’re talking about a solo artist. If you’re a Van Halen fan and want to choose a side, pick whether or not you’re Team Roth or Team Hagar, that’s fine and totally cool. But making a choice between Team Jack and Team White seems crazy to me. If you want to pick between White’s side projects, that’s something that makes more sense- are you a Raconteurs person or a Dead Weather person? Me personally, I’m more of a Raconteurs person, if only because I hate when non-drummers play drums, which White does in Dead Weather.

Plus “Steady As She Goes” is another song that will never get old.

The Raconteurs from top to bottom were a great rock band. The White Stripes were a great rock band. There was very little mystery about either. That makes you wonder- is the world better off with Jack White in a band and not on his own? Unfortunately we’ll never know the answer to that. Just like we’ll probably never know who Jon Snow’s mom is or who really killed JFK. I’m looking at you Umbrella Man. White seems to have settled into Lone Wolf status with occasional forays into random wolf packs, packs he doesn’t stay in for long. Just ask the other dudes in the Raconteurs who are probably sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. Suckers. Jack White probably doesn’t even own a phone!

Jack White seems to exist in various states of being. There’s Rock ‘n Roll Jack White, there’s Blues Rock Jack White and there’s Old Timey Country Jack White. I feel like I’m comfortable with my relationship with Rock ‘n Roll Jack White. It’s my favorite version of White. My feelings about Blues Rock White seem murkier, although I’ll never forget to the guitar god documentary This Might Get Loud, in which White builds a guitar from some spare parts.

There’s no doubt that White is a craftsman. It’s one of things I dig about him. And you know, I also kind of dig when he does get all bluesy, rough and tumble. He does it well and it doesn’t sound cheap or fake. It sounds real and genuine. I’m cool with it. Old Timey Country Jack White seems to be my least favorite version of White and thinking about it, I feel like it is probably connected to my feelings about the other sides of White, feelings that are pretty strong and positive. While it’s cool he does something low key, I’d much rather see him deviate from his norm with something like this, which is awesome.

And if he is going to do something besides hammer away on some monstrous rock riffs or peddle us some blues jams, doing more things like this would be perfectly cool with me.

Because yeah, WATCH OUT MAN!

Because yeah, maybe I’m a Jack White fan.

Although that doesn’t really answer my question or put me in a different place than when I started writing this. I wanted a definitive answer!

But maybe, just maybe, liking Jack White isn’t a definitive thing and maybe he’s not the kind of musician that makes you definitively feel one way or the other. Perhaps a relationship with White is both an evolving and situational one. He isn’t Pearl Jam or a band like his best buddies the Black Keys, bands that have either maintained a certain sound or evolved in a more conventional way, along a more traditional trajectory. White keeps you guessing and because he does, he can never fully be relied on. I can rely on Pearl Jam to produce a quality rock record. The same can be said for the Black Keys. My Morning Jacket changes it up from time to time, but never so excessively where you forget who you are listening to. In a way, those bands are easier to like than someone like Jack White is and therefore, it’s almost easier to declare yourself a fan of theirs than it is to say you are or aren’t a fan of White’s.

So am I fan of Jack White?

Hell if I know.

Which is the way I think it’s meant to be.




Categories: Music

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8 replies

  1. As far as being a fan of “someone”. I make this comparison. If I were to make a painting and one person reacted by saying,” I will give you 1 million dollars for it” and then another person saw it and pulled a gun on the painting and blew it to thousands of itty bitty pieces or finally someone looked at it and said, ” eh hum hmm.. ” I suppose the first to extremes is what I would aim for , rather than the final one which is a mediocre response. At least we are all thinking about it. Yeah I agree it is what it is…


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