Sunday, August 28, 2011

White Stripes -- "We're Going to Be Friends" (2001)

Fall is here
Hear the yell
Back to school
Ring the bell
Brand new shoes
Walking blues
Climb the fence
Books and pens
I can tell that we are gonna be friends
My youngest child goes back to school tomorrow.  It's his junior year in high school, which means he and I have just one more back-to-school day left.  

I vividly remember when my oldest child (he'll turn 28 in a few weeks) started first grade.  We had just moved to this neighborhood, and knew very few people.  The local grade school held a get-acquainted picnic for parents, kids, and teachers at the end of the first week of school.  

That was 1989.  His first-grade teacher, who also taught two of my other children, is still teaching first grade there.

I've written about well over 200 songs on this blog, but haven't written about a single White Stripes song.  That's a major oversight on my part and one that I'm about to correct -- in spades.  The White Stripes were the official band of my Cape Cod bike rides this summer, and I'll be posting about several of their songs over the next couple of weeks.

Jack and Meg White
Jack Gillis was a little-known Detroit musician who married local bartendar Meg White in 1996.  He took her last name instead of vice versa.  After the two were married, Meg started playing the drums, and the two formed the White Stripes in 1997.  The couple divorced in 2000, but continued to play together until earlier this year, when they officially pulled the plug on the band. 

When I first became aware of the White Stripes, it wasn't clear what the couple's relationship was.  For a number of years, Jack White claimed that the two were brother and sister.

Jack did most of the heavy lifting for the White Stripes -- he wrote most of the songs they recorded, played guitar and keyboards, and did most of the singing.  Meg sang on occasion, but usually stuck to playing the drums.  She was not a drumming virtuoso by any means, but she didn't really need to be.

This song is on the White Stripes' third album, White Blood Cells (2001), which was the album that put them on the map.  Their fourth album, Elephant (2003), which went platinum and won the Grammy for best alternative music album, is their strongest album by far.  (Their two next albums have their moments but are a little hit-or-miss.)

The "White Blood Cells" album cover
I think Jack White is one of the most interesting rock musicians of the last decade, and I should have posted about a White Stripes song well before now.  I have written about songs recorded by two other bands he was a part of -- the Raconteurs and Dead Weather.  Both of those bands are very good, but writing about them and ignoring the White Stripes is sort of like writing about the Plastic Ono Band and Wings and ignoring the Beatles.

I should note that Jack White has collaborated with a number of other musicians, including the Rolling Stones and Alicia Keys.  He produced and performed on Loretta Lynn's 2004 album, Van Lear Rose.  He also had a significant role in the movie Cold Mountain, and had a romantic relationship with that movie's star, Renee Zellweger.

Zellweger and White
After breaking up with Zellweger, White married British model Karen Elson, whom he met when she appeared in one of the band's music videos.  They tied the knot in a canoe on the Amazon River.  Meg White was the maid (matron?) of honor.  

The couple moved to a Nashville suburb, had two children, and threw a big party when they decided to get divorced earlier this year.  A press release issued at that time said that both White and Elson pledged to remain "dear and trusted friends and co-parents."  Awwwww.

White and Elson
White and Elson's older child was born in May 2006.  She's probably starting first grade about now.  I wonder if Jack has sung this song to her.  Let's hope that she has a best friend to walk to school with.

By the way, "We're Going to Be Friends" is featured in the opening credits of Napoleon Dynamite, and is one of Conan O'Brien's favorite songs -- Jack and Meg performed it live on the final episode of O'Brien's NBC show. 

Here's the music video for "We're Going to Be Friends," which features perhaps the least convincing lip-synching that I've ever seen -- Jack White seems very distracted:

Here's a link you can use to get the song from Amazon:

No comments:

Post a Comment