Ghost, part 2

3 02 2011

The White Stripes officially hung it up today. You could say music lost another legend; I would say we lost them a long time ago.

Jack White will never quit. He is the undisputed king of modern rock and roll. Just about everything he touches turns to gold, even if record sales don’t show it; and his fans eat up each and every project. But he doesn’t need the White Stripes anymore; it’s always better for an artist to follow his muse than to fake it, unless they’re just in it for the money. Sometimes even rock stars grow up.

No other band since Nirvana has so successfully embodied youth and rebellion. Rocketing out of obscurity in an unprecedented DIY fashion, playing by their own rules, playing everywhere, with their garage aesthetic and candy cane colored wet dream, they¬†tore the establishment a new one. Then, at the peek of their popularity, Jack pulled a Sting maneuver, and went off and formed The Raconteurs, another great, heavy band, but one that lacked the originality of the Stripes, and in doing so made the first puncture in an ever growing hole in the time-space continuum of rock and roll. Sure, Jack’s destiny was locked in, his fame would spread around the multitude of inevitable projects, but the White Stripes were doomed.

Everyone knew it. Get Behind Me Satan failed to connect with the fans. While it showcased Jack’s growing palette for new sounds, it also became clear that Meg would never be able to keep up the pace. As always, the increased radio play alienated those fans who, no matter how long they had actually been listening, felt personally responsible for the band’s success. All the signs were there.

The press release may be dated today, but their absence has been felt for much longer. Instead, a misty, cavernous hollow still exists, fringed by hundreds of minor bands that come and go like reviewers for Pitchfork, touted for their brilliance and originality, and several thousand more that aren’t, none them able to occupy the sonic and visceral space the Stripes could, not yet. But were waiting…and listening.