Candy Cane Children: Remembering The White Stripes

February 17th, 2011

(Photo from

“I’m Jack White and this is my big sister, Meg.” For 13 years that’s how Jack White introduced his band.

What started in Detroit sometime in 1997, ended on Feb. 2 when The White Stripes released a statement officially ending their time together.

It doesn’t matter that Meg and Jack White turned out to be less like siblings and more like ex-spouses, it doesn’t matter that she never officially learned how to play the drums, and it doesn’t matter that he is the best guitar player alive today.

What does matter is that the most influential and important rock act of the last decade is no longer going to release new music.

If you’ve only ever heard “Seven Nation Army,” “Fell In Love With A Girl” and “The Hardest Button To Button” it’s fine, but you’re missing who the real duo is.

As obsessed with red and white as they’ve always been, the color most important to the duo has always been blue.

Steeping the gritty blues of Son House in the pure noise of early punk rock, they dragged blues back into the mainstream consciousness. I have no problem saying that Jack White is more connected to the blues than any other musician since they originated.

He refuses to compromise the raw power and emotion of traditional blues with any superfluous elements.

Their singles are what the majority of people know them for, but they will always be at their best when they’re channeling Robert Johnson through a blown out amp.

Jack and Meg went into the garage as a way to kill time and came out with a blues-fueled sound that saved rock from the 1990s.

The White Stripes were the first band I was ever actually obsessed with, and I will be eternally proud that their album “Elephant” was the first CD I ever bought with my own money.

They never released a bad record and every single album they released was better than the one before it. The only other band to do that is The Beatles.

In the order that they were released, “The White Stripes,” “De Stijl,” “White Blood Cells,” “Elephant,” “Get Behind Me Satan” and “Icky Thump” will always be six of my favorite albums.

Meg will always play her kit like she’s trying to break it, and Jack will only ever play guitar like somebody’s trying to take it away from him.

There is some great music being made today, there always will be, but very few artists will ever manage to have the same unbridled passion that The White Stripes had.

They didn’t make music for money or their fans. They made music for themselves.

The fact that anybody else liked it was irrelevant to them.

Often at their concerts they would face each other, ignoring the audience, and try to blow each other away with the raw power of their music.

Their released statement ends with, “The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore.”

They only ever made music for themselves, and now they have turned that over to you, me and us.

The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want.

For them to end their career together in such a way is not a hollow gesture; they mean it. Yes, they’re done. No, they’re not dead. Yes, they’re always that pale.

No, they’re not actually related. Yes, they are the best band to make music in your lifetime.