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Saturday, April 16, 2011

4. The White Stripes: Elephant

"This album is dedicated to, and is for, and about the death of the sweetheart." These words, taken directly from the liner notes of 2003's Elephant, the fourth disc from The White Stripes, represent the basis of their loose concept album.  The idea being that we now live "in a disgusting world of opportunistic, lottery ticket holders caring about nothing that is long term..." Somewhat true, yes? This album, however, bucks that trend and should be treasured for years to come.

I remember hearing "Seven Nation Army" for the first time. Like much of America I had no experience with the first three White Stripes albums other than the great "Fell In Love With A Girl" from 2001's White Blood Cells. I enjoyed that song immediately, but the Lego-animated video by Michael Gondry is what made me stand up and take notice.  (Click on the song title to watch's incredible.) I put "Fell In Love..." on a mixed CD for Chelo who was living in Arizona at the time and was receiving CD's from me in the mail every other week. This one had twenty-something songs with the word "Girl" in the title. Anyway, I was excited to hear more from The White Stripes and the release of Elephant was right around the corner. I don't listen to the radio or watch MTV (not that they play music anymore anyway), so I hadn't heard anything prior to opening the package. Popping that disc in the stereo and hearing those first seven notes...let's just say "Seven Nation Army" could never be confused with any other song. And it's just the start of one of the most amazing albums of all time. 

The album reached number six in America (though it debuted at #1 in the UK...why do they always seem to know something we don't?). Rolling Stone slotted it at number 390 in its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time...gravely underrated! They did say it was the fifth best album of the decade and pegged "Seven Nation Army" as the sixth* best song of the decade. However, Elephant, an album created by two musicians (Jack White being one of the greatest guitarists of all time), using no computers in the writing, recording, mixing, or mastering is downright nasty. It's thick, and fuzzy, and pissed-off, and stunning, and is worthy of a spot in any discussion of the best albums ever. Here's the video to "Seven Nation Army" to get you through the day.

*Is there any word in the English language more difficult to say than "sixths" in two-sixths? Try pronouncing that word correctly...nope...try it again, but say it slowly this time.


  1. Thank you for recognizing the genius that is Jack White! Seven Nation Army is as good as down & dirty gets.

  2. Thank you for recognizing that it was recognized!

    One sidenote that didn't fit into the post is that The White Stripes were Sebastian's first concert at the George Washington of the most beautiful places to see a concert...a six-seven hour drive from the Willamette Valley to the absolute middle of nowhere. Sebastian wasn't born yet, but he was utero.