Opinion: The White void



James S. Sherman

James S. Sherman

James Sherman is junior newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

A recent announcement should have made headlines and shaken the music industry to its core: The White Stripes announced on its website that the band had officially disbanded.

I was saddened but can’t say I was surprised. This story probably didn’t get the attention I thought it deserved because of the recent reclusiveness of the group. The popular Detroit band had not released a studio album since 2007’s “Icky Thump.” The last fans saw of the dynamic, fake brother-sister-duo was in the concert film “Under Great White Northern Lights,” a documentary that followed Jack and Meg as they toured the wild and untamed wilderness of northern Canada. In the last shot of the film, we saw Meg cozying up to Jack at the piano while he played a haunting rendition of “White Moon.” Meg weeps as she clings to Jack like some kind of floatation device.

It’s no secret that the driving force behind the White Stripes was Jack. One can only speculate what it takes to form a rock ‘n’ roll band with your ex-wife, make great music and make it as long as Jack and Meg did. It’s simply a sad ending to one of the most talented rock ‘n’ roll groups of the 21st century.

To the uninitiated, the White Stripes sounded like a full rock ‘n’ roll band, despite the fact that there were only two members. It was just Jack on his guitar and Meg on her drum set. He would stomp madly on distortion pedals during hard-driving guitar heavy songs then jump onto piano for the next song, always in control; she would lay the drum foundation for Jack to improvise all over, sometimes literally with one hand behind her back.

Meg was always the shy one, often muttering one word answers during interviews. The White Stripes had to cancel a string of shows in 2007 after Meg was reported to be suffering from acute anxiety. For this, Meg always seemed like the little sister who got dragged out by the older brother to do this rock ‘n’ roll thing, when in actuality, she was his ex-wife, a year his senior. Whatever Meg decides to do next, I will undoubtedly be interested.

Jack White of course will continue to make music with his other two bands, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather. Jack also has his Third Man Records label and studio in Nashville. With his talent and true love for rock music, I think he is the best candidate to be christened as a true rock ‘n’ roll legend. Certainly cool enough, he still needs something — an extra rocket booster to launch him to Rock God status. Unfortunately, for most rock legends, their rocket boost into godlike rock status is by way of tragic, young death. Tragic, young death seems to be out this millennium, so Jack will have to find another way to become rock royalty. It would be impossible for Jack to recreate the magic of the White Stripes, but rock gods tend to make the impossible look easy.