For over 20 years, has lived by a code. Work hard. Don’t take the easy route. Do things dif­fer­ently. And with each new record, he has to find a new way to make things dif­fi­cult for him­self. Do­rian Lynskey joins him at home in Nashville to see what kind of

Q (UK) - - Contents - Pho­to­graphs: Jo McCaughey

COVER STORY: We head down Nashville way to meet up with the ex-White Stripe and find out why he’ll al­ways be an awk­ward bug­ger.

Who killed that fuck­ing ele­phant?” says Jack White. We are sit­ting on two red swivel chairs in the mid­dle of the live space of Third Man Records in down­town Nashville, a 300- ca­pac­ity blue room that has hosted shows by ev­ery­one from Jerry Lee Lewis to Co­nan O’Brien. Rock’s great­est show­man is drink­ing coffee from an Elvis mug, smok­ing a cigar­illo and ex­plain­ing why there’s a stuffed ele­phant head mounted on the wall. “There’s a big part of me that would love to live in an apart­ment with noth­ing but a tea ket­tle,” he says. “There’s also a part of me that wants to save every­thing that I can. I want to res­cue these an­i­mals that have been killed long ago and stuffed and treated as soul­less.” We both swivel to con­tem­plate the big, grey, mourn­ful head. “Man­made ob­jects tell a lot about us as a so­ci­ety. How do you see such a beau­ti­ful thing and want to kill it? And then make a tro­phy out of it?” He looks en­tranced. “It’s a multi-level source of med­i­ta­tion.” There are many an­i­mal heads at Third Man. When I ar­rive, a dozen staff mem­bers, all wear­ing the la­bel’s yel­low-and-black uni­form, are plotting the reis­sue of a North­ern soul sin­gle around a ta­ble that bears a hip­popota­mus skull. White founded Third Man in 2001 and opened this head­quar­ters in 2009, sand­wiched be­tween a home­less shel­ter and a methadone clinic. It has grown into “an amaz­ing mon­ster” con­tain­ing a shop, dis­tri­bu­tion ware­house, live venue, record­ing booth, photo stu­dio and de­sign work­shop. White de­signed the in­te­rior him­self, and every­thing White de­signs has rules. All walls of a cer­tain colour (yel­low, black, red or blue) face the same way. No ad­join­ing walls are clad in the same ma­te­rial. Noth­ing is ugly. “This phys­i­cal space is a great rep­re­sen­ta­tion of how his mind works,” says Third Man’s ami­able co-founder Ben Swank. On top of every­thing else, Third Man is one man’s mu­seum of mod­ern Amer­i­can folk­lore, stuffed with by­gone arte­facts, in­clud­ing a vin­tage US Mail box, a vinyl vend­ing ma­chine, and the 1947 Voice-O-Graph booth in which Neil Young recorded his al­bum A Let­ter Home. Even White’s phi­lan­thropy skews to­wards sav­ing the past from the pre­da­tions of the mod­ern world. In 2013, he do­nated $ 142,000 to sin­gle­hand­edly save the Detroit Ma­sonic Tem­ple from fore­clo­sure. “No man owns any­thing,” he says. “You’re a cu­ra­tor, you’re a night­watch­man, you’re just the cus­to­dian of it for a brief mo­ment in time.” He dis­ap­pears into a back room for a minute and re­turns with a slim card­board en­ve­lope, from which he gen­tly draws three re­cent

pur­chases: the po­lice mugshots of Lee Har­vey Oswald and Clyde Bar­row, and Lenny Bruce’s New York City cabaret li­cence. “These are dif­fer­ent kinds of out­laws,” White says. “This is what we do to any­body who’s left-of­cen­tre: we take their photo, in dif­fer­ent ways.” White, 42, is a burly 6’ 2”, with a snowy com­plex­ion and crow-black hair but when he’s talk­ing about some­thing he loves, his face glows with boy­ish de­light. He’s warmer, fun­nier and gen­tler than his in­tim­i­dat­ing rep­u­ta­tion sug­gests. When he’s amused, a star­tling grin pops up like a jack in the box. He’s a con­sci­en­tious in­ter­vie­wee, lis­ten­ing in­tently to ev­ery ques­tion. Like every­thing else he does, he wants to do it right. Back in the ’ 90s, Third Man was the name of White’s up­hol­stery busi­ness and its slo­gan was: “Your fur­ni­ture’s not dead.” The record la­bel adapted this to: “Your turntable’s not dead.” Its 500- plus re­leases in­clude the world’s first holo­gram-etched vinyl; the first playable gold and plat­inum discs; rare tracks by Elvis and Marvin Gaye; new record­ings from Tom Jones, Stephen Col­bert and Court­ney Bar­nett. No la­bel has done more to make vinyl de­sir­able and vi­able in the 21st cen­tury. Re­cently, White vis­ited the Sony Mu­sic head­quar­ters in New York and saw that they had in­tro­duced a vinyl store. “Now, where’d that come from?” he cack­les. “You just have to laugh, to be a part of that.” This is what White has been do­ing all his adult life. He takes things that are dead or dy­ing or for­got­ten or lost and breathes new life into them. Jack White is in the preser­va­tion busi­ness.

Jack White’s third solo al­bum, Board­ing House Reach, will come out two years and nine months af­ter his last record, The Dead Weather’s Dodge And Burn. For such a pro­lific mu­si­cian, this is an un­prece­dented hia­tus. He wanted a break from tour­ing to spend time with his chil­dren by ex-wife Karen Olsen: Scar­lett, 11, and Hank, 10. “As they grow up you hold on for dear life,” he says. “It’s like they’re slip­ping out of your hands ev­ery week.” He still kept busy, of course. He fea­tured on al­bums by Bey­oncé and A Tribe Called Quest, fi­nally ce­ment­ing his affin­ity with hip-hop af­ter a col­lab­o­ra­tive al­bum with Jay-Z fiz­zled out. He sent a func­tion­ing turntable, sus­pended from a weather bal­loon, al­most 18 miles into the strato­sphere. He ap­peared on The Mup­pets, singing Fell In Love With A Girl with Ker­mit the Frog. With each new record, White has to find a new way to make things dif­fi­cult for him­self. He some­times en­vies the mu­si­cians of the 1960s who had to make an al­bum in a week, no ex­cuses. “In­de­pen­dent mu­sic had taken all those rules away,” he says. “So I had to make my own con­stric­tions. The White Stripes was noth­ing but con­stric­tion. We were push­ing our­selves into a cor­ner all the time and try­ing to fight our way out. That led to me be­ing very, very cre­ative. I feel like it’s bet­ter to put ob­sta­cles in my path in or­der to get some­place new. The hard part, when you’ve made so many al­bums, is how to think of new sce­nar­ios.” This time, he worked alone. As one of 10 sib­lings, he in­stinc­tively needs lots of peo­ple in his life but he’s al­ways fan­ta­sised about liv­ing alone in a spar­tan apart­ment, like Matt Dil­lon in Drug­store Cow­boy. So he rented a two-room apart­ment in Nashville and went there once or twice a week for a year, un­til he got tired of fans push­ing let­ters un­der the door. He fur­nished it with an army cot (for naps) and some ba­sic equip­ment, in­clud­ing the reel-to-reel tape deck and four-track mixer he had when he was 14. “What would I do then with what I know now?” he says. “What would be dif­fer­ent?” To avoid dis­turb­ing the neigh­bours, he had to run every­thing through the mixer and lis­ten on head­phones. Another con­straint: he would com­pose melodies in his head, sing them, and only add the mu­sic later. Later, he de­vel­oped the songs with ses­sion mu­si­cians from the world of hip-hop and R&B. White de­scribes song­writ­ing in mys­ti­cal terms: the songs are out there and his self-im­posed rules form the ves­sel he needs to catch them. “It’s ego­tis­ti­cal for the artist to get in the way of what’s

There’s a big part of me that would love to live in an apart­ment with noth­ing but a tea ket­tle.

hap­pen­ing,” he says. “You’re just lucky to be there.” Lyrics are harder. White con­sid­ers him­self a “char­ac­teriser” rather than a singer: he imag­ines char­ac­ters and writes in their voices. He con­sid­ered re­leas­ing a video for ev­ery song, ex­plor­ing each per­sona Bowie-style, but wor­ried that would seem pre­ten­tious. “So I just have to sing them all un­der the guise of this guy named Jack White,” he says. “Peo­ple take songs too lit­er­ally. There’s a per­cep­tion that ev­ery­one’s sup­posed to know ex­actly who this song is about, which sounds like death to me. Why would you want every­body to know that?” Of course, as with Bowie, this means that any au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal de­tails can be plau­si­bly de­nied. Fea­tur­ing funk, elec­tro, psychedeli­a, vocoders, syn­the­siz­ers, spo­ken word, a bit of Dvorák, and some­thing that sounds a lot like rap­ping, Board­ing House Reach is White’s most di­verse al­bum and, he an­tic­i­pates, his most di­vi­sive. “I know that cer­tain things will up­set peo­ple. It’s hard to say, ‘Man, I know that some peo­ple are go­ing to have prob­lems with it but I still have to put it out.’” The im­por­tant thing is that he’s never made a record he can’t stand by. “I don’t know what it feels to dis­like one of your own al­bums,” he says. “So far, ev­ery time I’ve felt like I’m push­ing my­self in a new di­rec­tion. The pub­lic may be along for the ride at cer­tain mo­ments but I’m very happy with that num­ber fluc­tu­at­ing.” He’s never re­ally known where he fits in any­way. “I’m too strange for main­stream, I’m too main­stream for un­der­ground, I’m too this for that. If 16- year-olds run the in­ter­net and pop­u­lar per­cep­tion, what does a 16- year-old think is cool right now? The last time I put out an al­bum, that 16- year-old was 12!” He laughs at the thought. “So of course he or she can’t be blamed for think­ing, ‘Who the fuck is Jack White?’”

Long be­fore he be­came Jack White, John An­thony Gil­lis was not like other kids. In 1986, when the Beastie Boys’ Li­censed To Ill was sound­track­ing street cor­ners in South Detroit, he was the only one who knew where the sam­ples came from. “The other kids were like, ‘So what? Who cares?’ and that up­set me,” he re­mem­bers. “It didn’t oc­cur to me that it could be cool even though they didn’t know.” As the youngest child by seven years, with a fa­ther born in the 1920s, White’s gen­er­a­tional per­spec­tive was skewed. He has al­ways sought ad­vice from much older peo­ple, from punk-lov­ing up­hol­sterer Brian Mul­doon through to Tom Petty and Bob Dy­lan, and has of­ten been out of sync with his peers. “I was too ma­ture, in ways that were off-putting to peo­ple around me,” he says. “I didn’t re­ally party or do drugs or hang out with some dan­ger­ous weirdos in a build­ing for weeks. There’s so many things I never did.” He of­fers a triv­ial ex­am­ple: “‘We’re all wear­ing Air Jor­dans and Jack, you aren’t wear­ing them so you’re a fuck­ing ass­hole.’ And I’d be like, ‘That’s ridicu­lous. I’m not do­ing that be­cause ev­ery­one else is do­ing it. I’m not fall­ing for that.’ Whereas I should have just shut my mouth and bought some fuck­ing Air Jor­dans like every­body else and I’d have had a lot bet­ter friends.” When he was 18, White was about to en­ter a Catholic sem­i­nary to be­come a priest but his all-or-noth­ing ethos stopped him at the last minute. “I thought, ‘Why wouldn’t I go to the nat­u­ral ex­treme and be­come a clois­tered monk who takes a vow of si­lence, and re­ally ded­i­cate my­self to God? If I can’t go all the way, what does half­way mean?’ Years later, I saw a doc­u­men­tary with Priscilla Pres­ley say­ing Elvis never did any­thing half­way. That’s kind of how I feel.” In­stead, he re­paired fur­ni­ture, made mu­sic, fell in love with Meg White, changed his name and, in 1997, formed a band that epit­o­mised his no-half-mea­sures phi­los­o­phy. “I couldn’t be­lieve that peo­ple ac­tu­ally cared about what The White Stripes were do­ing,” he says. “It was al­ways a shock to us, day by day.” The White Stripes were a throw­down: you ei­ther found them pre­ten­tious and ab­surd or fas­ci­nat­ing and thrilling. “As an artist, you have the free­dom and abil­ity to turn peo­ple on to some­thing new, some­thing beau­ti­ful, some­thing they haven’t thought about, some­thing that’s not what

The White Stripes was noth­ing but con­stric­tion. We were push­ing our­selves into a cor­ner all the time and try­ing to fight our way out. That led to me be­ing very, very cre­ative.

every­body is do­ing,” he says. “And when you don’t do that, you’re be­ing very bor­ing and shal­low, and not re­ally liv­ing up to the re­spon­si­bil­ity of call­ing your­self an artist.” Not every­body warms to his de­fi­ant idio­syn­cra­sies. The crude car­i­ca­ture of Jack White is a con­trol freak, pu­ri­tan, re­fusenik, scold: the High Spar­row of rock. He’s suf­fi­ciently sen­si­tive to crit­i­cism to ven­tril­o­quise his de­trac­tors: “‘This guy wants every­thing to be on a wax cylin­der and we’re sup­posed to live by can­dle­light or some stupid shit.’” The first time he re­vealed that he didn’t own a mo­bile phone, back in 2003, he didn’t imag­ine so many peo­ple would care. “Isn’t it my job to not do what every­body else is do­ing?” he says.“And are you re­ally go­ing to pun­ish me for do­ing my job, which is ex­actly why you’re pay­ing at­ten­tion to me in the first place? To have opin­ions like ev­ery­one else seems like tak­ing the easy way out and be­ing a cow­ard. It seems like noth­ing, but there are things that I can’t stand be­hind.” Fifteen years later, in the Black Mir­ror era of wide­spread dig­i­tal anx­i­ety, his scep­ti­cism doesn’t seem so quixotic. He still es­chews phones and sends text mes­sages from his com­puter in care­fully com­posed para­graphs be­cause he finds texts­peak “Or­wellian”. “Is that where we’re all headed? Are we go­ing to get our con­ver­sa­tions down to these one-sen­tence things? That would be a shame.” He also hates the on­line cul­ture of anony­mous abuse. “The avatars, the fake names, the spilling acid and run­ning and hid­ing. I have a big chip on my shoul­der about cow­ardice and I wish I could shake it. I think I was raised in Detroit too much with: ‘If you do this, you will get the shit beaten out of you.’ So when you see peo­ple get­ting away with it, it fucks with your sense of moral­ity.” Re­cently, White an­nounced that fans at his forth­com­ing shows would have to lock their phones in Yondr pouches. His orig­i­nal plan was to sur­prise peo­ple at the door and see who asked for their money back (“That would have been amaz­ing”) but now it’s another chap­ter in the long-run­ning me­dia saga of Jack White vs the mod­ern world. He says he just wants his au­di­ences to col­lab­o­rate with him in cre­at­ing a spe­cial oc­ca­sion. “Peo­ple want to be put in a sce­nario that’s in­ter­est­ing for them, and the num­ber one thing – it’s so easy it’s like shoot­ing fish in a bar­rel – is, ‘Turn your phone off, you fuck­ing lit­tle baby!’” He laughs like a ma­chine gun. “There’s your head­line.”

A few years ago, White was ap­proached to di­rect The Cur­rent War, a movie about Thomas Edi­son and Ge­orge West­ing­house’s bat­tle for con­trol of the elec­tric­ity in­dus­try in the 1880s. He’s had film­mak­ing am­bi­tions since he was an Or­son Welles­be­sot­ted teenager but when he read the screen­play he was out­raged by the de­pic­tion of vi­sion­ary in­ven­tor Nikola Tesla, one of his he­roes. “It tries to turn Tesla into this ec­cen­tric weirdo who’s into aliens and crap, leav­ing Edi­son as a great Amer­i­can hero, when he’s a to­tal vil­lain bas­tard who never in­vented any­thing,” he says crossly. “I said, ‘Well, if you let me turn this around where Tesla’s the hero and Edi­son’s the vil­lain…’ They weren’t down with that.” He sighs. “Maybe Tesla’s too much of a pop­u­lar ob­scure thing. It’s al­most like, ‘Oh, of course Jack would do a movie about Tesla.” As it turns out, he dodged a bul­let. The Cur­rent War was pulled from re­lease last year af­ter the shock­ing rev­e­la­tions about its pro­ducer, Har­vey We­in­stein. White had his own run-in with

Why would we pos­si­bly give one hu­man be­ing the un­bri­dled abil­ity to de­stroy hu­man life? And you didn’t give it to a Har­vard pro­fes­sor or a nu­clear physi­cist; you gave it to this dip­shit!

We­in­stein when he was work­ing on the sound­track for 2003’ s Cold Moun­tain, in which he played a folk-singing de­serter. “Peo­ple told me, ‘You have to watch out for that guy, he’s a huge bully,’” he re­mem­bers. “He tried to get me to play all these events and I kept telling him, ‘Sorry man, I’m not in­ter­ested.’ He wasn’t used to hear­ing the word no. It didn’t mat­ter to me be­cause I didn’t know who the fuck he was. I wasn’t liv­ing in that world.” White is a fan of the #MeToo move­ment that grew out of We­in­stein’s down­fall. “Peo­ple are fi­nally lis­ten­ing in a lot of sec­tors that should have been lis­ten­ing a long time ago, and that’s a beau­ti­ful thing. Maybe that’s the great side-ef­fect of Trump get­ting into of­fice: ‘Holy shit. We did it, didn’t we? Now what do we do?’” Amer­ica’s cur­rent predica­ment de­presses the hell out of him. “It’s so dis­gust­ingly em­bar­rass­ing,” he says. “And we de­serve it. We de­serve the sce­nario we’ve cre­ated. The only thing that Amer­ica might learn from this is the knowl­edge that we’ve given one sin­gle hu­man be­ing the abil­ity to oblit­er­ate all of hu­man­ity. You need 12 peo­ple on a city coun­cil to change a street sign! Why would we pos­si­bly give one hu­man be­ing the un­bri­dled abil­ity to de­stroy hu­man life? And you didn’t give it to a Har­vard pro­fes­sor or a nu­clear physi­cist; you gave it to this dip­shit!” The Pres­i­dent fig­ures, obliquely, on Cor­po­ra­tion, a psych-funk rant that re­sem­bles early-’ 90s Beastie Boys. “It was the idea of run­ning a coun­try like a cor­po­ra­tion,” White ex­plains. “‘Can the av­er­age man on the street en­joy the same lib­erty that Don­ald Trump was af­forded? OK, then I want to start a cor­po­ra­tion!’” What’s Done Is Done’s eerie coun­try-soul was in­spired by the ab­sur­dity of Amer­i­can gun laws. “It’s an ex­plo­ration of how easy it is to buy a gun and ask what is that char­ac­ter go­ing through?” White says, just two hours be­fore a 19- year-old walks into a Florida high school and mur­ders 17 peo­ple with an as­sault ri­fle that he bought from a store. “The hero syn­drome in Amer­ica’s pretty ridicu­lous. The idea that some evil man’s go­ing to break in and I’m go­ing to pull out this magic weapon and save the fam­ily? That never hap­pens. Sta­tis­ti­cally, you’re more likely to shoot your­self or hurt some­one you love by ac­ci­dent. But he who holds the gun is the hero, and we’ve been taught that since we were ba­bies.” Last year, White made a sur­pris­ing cameo ap­pear­ance in Bri­tish pol­i­tics when Labour sup­port­ers set the words “Oh Jeremy Cor­byn” to the in­deli­ble riff from Seven Na­tion Army. “I’ve heard about it but I don’t know any­thing about Jeremy Cor­byn,” he says apolo­get­i­cally. “I don’t re­ally know who he is. I’ve been de­pressed about pol­i­tics since Trump came on the scene so I kind of lost in­ter­est in the world.” When White wrote that riff in 2002, he thought it sounded like a James Bond theme. It’s since be­come ubiq­ui­tous as a chant in sports sta­di­ums around the world. It used to sur­prise him that Seven Na­tion Army was so big, de­spite not hav­ing a cho­rus, but it be­came a phe­nom­e­non be­cause it doesn’t have a cho­rus. “It’s ar­guably the big­gest mul­ti­cul­tural hit of all time be­cause no­body’s singing any words; they’re chant­ing a melody,” he says. “Any­way, what­ever. We spent very lit­tle time on it and moved on to the next song.”

You have to com­pletely sac­ri­fice every­thing about your­self to art. If you re­ally care, you re­alise you never get to go home again. It’s a sad thing. That brings me to tears at times.

It re­minds me of some­thing he said about why he paid well over a mil­lion dol­lars for a copy of Ac­tion Comics # 1 from 1938. The comic book is so rare be­cause no­body knew how iconic this new Su­per­man char­ac­ter would turn out to be. “Some of the most beau­ti­ful things hap­pen when peo­ple don’t re­alise how im­por­tant they are at that mo­ment,” he said. Maybe that seven-note riff is Jack White’s Su­per­man.

White’s stu­dio is housed in a com­pact block on the seven-acre grounds of his home on the south­ern out­skirts of Nashville. It stands near an up­hol­stery shop, a bowl­ing al­ley and a coop for three rare white pea­cocks that, he’s dis­cov­ered, can’t roam free with­out es­cap­ing. “I’ve al­most raised these lit­tle slave crea­tures and I keep them in a box for my own per­sonal plea­sure,” he says glumly. “I need to sell them be­cause I feel hor­ri­ble about it.” If yel­low and black sig­nify work to White, then red and white re­main the colours of mu­si­cal cre­ativ­ity. Al­most every­thing in the stu­dio obeys The White Stripes’ candy-stripe bi­nary, from the vin­tage Coca-Cola dis­penser to the toi­let-roll holder. Above the mix­ing desk hangs a very large, very strange pho­to­graph of Michael Jack­son, swad­dled in so much sports­wear that I don’t even re­alise it’s Michael Jack­son un­til White points it out. “It al­most seems like was he ever here to be­gin with?” White says, tak­ing a seat. “Was he from some other planet? It was in­hu­man, his tal­ent.” This morn­ing, White has as­sem­bled four mu­si­cians and two en­gi­neers to re­hearse songs for the tour. The vibe is loose and friendly as they work on recre­at­ing com­plex new songs like Con­nected By Love, a syn­thy soul bal­lad, and Over And Over And Over, a riff mon­ster which sounds sur­pris­ingly like Rage Against The Ma­chine. They fin­ish off by tear­ing through some­thing more fa­mil­iar: the White Stripes’ Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground. The White Stripes be­came, in the end, one sce­nario that White could not con­trol; one beau­ti­ful thing he could not pre­serve. For this A+ stu­dent of rock his­tory, it was also that rare twist for which he could not find a prece­dent. White wrote and pro­duced ev­ery song, con­ceived ev­ery visual, led ev­ery in­ter­view, but as soon as Meg had had enough – ef­fec­tively 2007, of­fi­cially 2011 – it was over, and he still doesn’t fully un­der­stand why. “It’s not easy for me to cat­e­gorise,” he says, jig­gling his knees with ag­i­ta­tion. He only slept for an hour and a half last night and he seems more vul­ner­a­ble than yes­ter­day, his voice more husky. “It would be eas­ier if I was in a band and could say the gui­tar player’s on heroin, the band’s over.” He shakes his fist and laughs. “Damn you, heroin!” Still, what’s done is done. “I think every­thing’s meant to be. If I was liv­ing in a trailer, sit­ting around for 10 years wait­ing for some­one to call me, that would be pretty de­press­ing, but I had so much go­ing on.” That in­cludes the solo records, The Ra­con­teurs, The Dead Weather, Third Man and nu­mer­ous one-off projects but White still thinks The White Stripes is “prob­a­bly the great­est thing I’ll ever be in­volved in. For light­ning to strike twice is pretty rare. But the peo­ple who come to see me play aren’t com­ing to see some nos­tal­gia act who’s play­ing his old band’s songs. ‘Re­mem­ber this one, kids?’ That would be de­press­ing.” So White con­tin­ues to take the path of most re­sis­tance. For his mu­sic to be worth­while, it has to be in­ter­est­ing; for it to be in­ter­est­ing, it has to be hard. It’s as if this is his God-given call­ing: his al­ter­na­tive priest­hood. What has he had to sac­ri­fice in or­der to do this? “Every­thing,” he says. “Every­thing.” He clasps his hands into a pil­low and leans against the win­dow, as if he’s about to go to sleep. “You have to com­pletely sac­ri­fice every­thing about your­self to art.

If you re­ally care, you re­alise you never get to go home again. It’s a sad thing. You can go back and visit and wave to it, but you can never go home. That brings me to tears at times.” His voice trem­bles slightly. “Even in those mo­ments of tak­ing chil­dren to school, it still to me seems like I’m play­ing house, or it’s a hol­i­day from what I’m sup­posed to be do­ing.” It must be ex­haust­ing some­times, be­ing Jack White. For over 20 years he has lived by a code. Work hard. Don’t take the easy route. Do things dif­fer­ently. Don’t be afraid. And, even now, re­tain some mys­tery. “If you put out the things that mean the most to you, peo­ple will tear them apart,” he says. “When I do mu­sic or in­ter­views I can only give you a sani­tised ver­sion of what re­ally drives me and what I re­ally love. I can’t give you the real things be­cause they could get walked all over, and they’re too pre­cious to me. It’s a shame be­cause I see other artists that are able to tell you every­thing that’s on their mind whereas I’m spend­ing a lot of time pro­tect­ing the things that I love from get­ting de­stroyed.” He pauses and laughs help­lessly. “It’s stupid. But I don’t know what else to do.” Jack White is in the preser­va­tion busi­ness.

I saw a doc­u­men­tary with Priscilla Pres­ley say­ing Elvis never did any­thing half­way. That’s kind of how I feel.

White Stripes to pin stripes: at the Bon­na­roo Mu­sic & Arts fes­ti­val, 14 June, 2014, Manch­ester, Ten­nessee.

Two of a kind: The White Stripes’ Jack and Meg in 1999.

You mup­pet! Jack White and furry friends in 2016.

“Any­body NAME in there?”: HERE Jack White keeps an eye on things, Nashville.

White and his black car: West Nashville, 7 Fe­bru­ary, 2018.

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