When I was 17, and I bought my first copy of Elephant, I thought Jack White was seriously interesting. When I was 20, and I had amassed much of his back catalogue while checking out his production skills, I thought Jack White was seriously cool. With the blistering blues of The Raconteurs and one of my favourite new bands, The Dead Weather released in the last three years, I now seriously think Jack White is somewhat of a god. But as the palest man in rock ‘n’ roll moves into his second decade in the spotlight, the place it all really started for me was with their breakthrough chart record, also renowned as home to ‘Seven Nation Army’, aka the riff of the freaking millennium. Jack White can do more with three chords than most bands can do with twenty. As a performer, he can infuse the energy of an outfit twice the size, and as a producer, he’s responsible for targeted, blasting walls of sound that are little more than a guitar, a drum kit and an 8-track recorder. You don’t hear that any more vividly than on ‘Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine.’
What it really comes dow to is White’s voice; something which is evident in the way he attacks both the microphone and whichever 1960s vintage guitar he happens to be playing for any particular song. On ‘Girl’, you get to hear both, and it’s electrifying. White yelps, shreds and dominates the track like nobody ever discovered computer recording techniques. It’s as raw as it is exciting, and though it gives the impression of being slap-dash, The White Stripes’ songs always have a lot more to them than what is initially apparent. I’m a huge fan of the bordering-on-maniacal Jack White persona, one of the many he filters through into his work. With this track, he assumes the role of a town crier, hell-fire preacher and local crazy all at once, shrieking and proselytising while Meg bashes away behind him. Those breakdowns where there’s just voice and hi-hats are the kind of thing you just can’t get away with if your frontman doesn’t have bucketloads of personality. A lot from a little, as I said.
Girls, sometimes they don’t listen to you. That was probably the feeling White was expressing (or invoking) here, as he attempted through solos and pleading to force the subject of this song to just take her medicine and be done with it. There have been a number of instances this week where I’ve been around girls who don’t want to get rid of something that’s making them feel awful. Sometimes these are men, other times they’re lifestyle choices, but the fact remains that just because medicine tastes awful doesn’t mean it’s not going to make you better in the long run. And that’s when I’d really like to grab them with both hands, shake them and scream ‘Girl, you have no faith in medicine!’ When I’m bored of all my other music, I find remedy in the White siblings/ex-spouses/caricatures, because with Jack White there’s never any pretending. There’s no grandiose statement about making the best record ever there’s just red, white and black clothing, blood, sweat and fuzz recording, It’s a formula which has proved devastatingly effective, and if music were a science, White may well have found a cure for cancer.
But even then, there’s always some girl who has no faith in medicine.
White Stripes – ‘Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine’
Find the White cure here.