You Don't Know Jack...Until You Hear This

Twenty years ago, Mr. White made his 12-inch LP entrance

On June 15th 1999, an unassuming red and white-coloured album was released amidst a growing field of off the radar bands calling Detroit Michigan home. The White Stripes seemed different from the get-go, playing blues from a bygone era updated with smash ’n’ bash rock and roll that was childlike in its presentation yet smacked of genuineness that quickly separated them from competitors.

There is no such thing as a bad time to revisit Jack White’s audio origin story, either digitally or by supporting the Third Man Records label he founded two years afterwards. Being the day one fan that I am, I thought it would be fitting to spread ROCKthusiasm for the individual christened John Anthony Gillis like butter on a toasted piece of white bread. Given his numerical superstition, I have compiled a 13-song playlist that only scratches the surfaces on his accomplishments these past two decades. Enjoy the music, and happy 20th anniversary to The White Stripes!

The Von Bondies – Lack of Communication
Before he had a falling out with singer Jason Stollsteimer, White attained one of his initial production credits outside of The White Stripes (via Sympathy for the Record Industry) by being in excessive contact with fellow Rock City band The Von Bondies.

Electric Six – Danger! High Voltage
Did he or didn’t he? White has long been said to be singing backup vocals on this song combining Nile Rodgers-type disco grooves with The Stooges’ punk primitiveness. Critics at the time called it catchier than anything on the radio by The White Stripes.

Loretta Lynn – Portland, Oregon
Jack already had two GRAMMYs to his name when he went country with the Coal Miner’s Daughter herself, accepting her invite for a drink “and a pitcher to go”. The May-December music romance that is Van Lear Rose garnered Ms. Lynn her 4th golden gramophone.

Photo courtesy of David James Swanson,

Wanda Jackson – Shakin’ All Over

The twice-married White has worked with his share of female performers, including redheaded ex Karen Elson. If he had a rockabilly itch to scratch, Jack did so and then some by proving the genre’s queen wasn’t ready to stop partying until just this year.

Beyoncé – Don’t Hurt Yourself
Really, who cares that Jack may have done something with Jay-Z as was speculated for years? The would-be priest should consider himself blessed that he was afforded the privilege to bask in Beyoncé’s glory…hopefully while wearing a pair of “Ray-Bans”.

The Dead Weather – I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)
Third time was the charm for Jack White with The Dead Weather, where he takes a back seat on drums and concedes the spotlight to The Kills’ very capable Alison Mosshart. Too bad it’s been four years since we’ve last heard from this super(charged)group.

The White Stripes – I Fought Piranhas
Jack White’s first full-length album is a melting pot of Delta blues and distinctive Detroit garage rock that holds unknown legends in high regard while creating new ones in the form of a candy-striped supposed sibling duo valuing authenticity in music.

The Go – Keep on Trash
As the Stripes were finding their feet, Jack often lent his guitar talents to others such as this Sub Pop-signed, Kim Fowley-mentored co-op. “Keep on Trash” has been reborn in 2019 as a Raconteurs cover song. So much for “Get that garbage outta here!”

The Raconteurs – Steady, As She Goes
Back after an 11-year album absence, “Steady, As She Goes” was what began many a love affair with The Raconteurs. The harmonic balance between Jack White and Brendan Benson is a thing of scientific artistry, a chemistry to be continued on Help Us Stranger.

The Greenhornes – Jacob’s Ladder
In return of sorts for stealing The Greenhornes’ rhythm section, White produced their ★★★★ swan song in 2010. Tough narrowing down to one from these Cincinnati garage rockers for this “Jack of all trades” playlist, as every track deserves a five-star slap.

Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Two Against One
A short blast of spaghetti western inspiration orchestrated by Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi for concept album Rome. Jack sonically paints the image of a pistol duel about to go down in front of a saloon that’s just run out of whiskey.

Jack White – Love Interruption
Arguably White’s most popular solo effort, “Love Interruption” confirms Jack is much more than killer riffs. Besides the tender duet with Ruby Amanfu, there’s a sharp edge to the lyrics made calmer by clarinet. How many songs of his can boast all that?

A Tribe Called Quest – Solid Wall of Sound
Can Jack White kick it? Yes he can! By crossing over into the world of hip-hop, there’s no one he can’t hang with musically, especially when helping to create a lasting “Solid Wall of Sound” legacy for ATCQ in one of Phife Dawg’s final appearances. #RIP

(Just as a friendly reminder that this newsletter is all about the playlist, below is another link to You Don’t Know Jack on Spotify.)