Blunderbuss (2012) :: Jack White
One of my favorite albums of the year, Jack White’s Blunderbuss is that extra special mix of music I want to turn way up and sing-a-long to, and songs I want to lose myself in the stories of. This is an album that runs the gamut of the best and the worst of love, and all the stuff stuck all in-between. This is one of those collections of songs that keep pulling me back in, each time with me discovering/re-discovering every tune, and getting attached at the heart and soul to a new one. Blunderbuss tied with Ryan Bingham’s Tomorrowland as the two albums I have fallen head over heels in love with, and are also the two albums that made me realize how deep and neverending my love for bluesy-country-rock is.
Following, in album order, are my three sentences of love for each song on Jack White’s Blunderbuss. I encourage you to sit back, push play and enjoy the hell out of each and every song.
Rough and ragged, like the night after too many cigarettes and too much whiskey, after someone has left you a little less innocent than the last time, Missing Pieces sounds like waking up and trying to sort out what all went on in the haze of all of that. There are things we wish to remember, and things better left forgotten, better to be the few missing pieces, full of jagged edges and oddly shaped curves. I love the echo of the organ at the start, and how the music builds off of it, slow at first, rhythmically induced.
The song plays like teenage rebellion and that certain kind of adolescent desperation that is rife with delight and despair, and often peppered with ridiculous antics, reckless danger, unprotected sex and careless drug use. The video plays like the song times a thousand, reminiscent to me of the film Kids, a collection of snapshots of inner city and out in the country lower class living seen from the eyes of the growing up too fast youth. Both the song and the video play like desolation with a beat to dance to.
Freedom at 21
This sounds like leaving in the middle of the night, driving just over the speed limit to avoid attention, through the desert on the way to Las Vegas, unsaid goodbyes reflecting back in the rearview mirror. You cannot care anymore, no, not anymore. All you want to do is drive to a city where no one looks anyone directly in the eye.
A love at first listen song, I initially mistook this for a love song, but soon realized it is a deliciously bitter song about the downsides of love. This song will forever be on my list of the best “trying to get over a break-up” songs ever. I love Ruby Amanfu’s back-up/dueting vocals on this song so much.
My absolute favorite song on the album (I especially love the line “doing what two people need is never on the menu.”). I love the story within the song, and the way my writer’s imagination fills in all the details of the story, and the two star-crossed lovers within the story in the song. I want a fully flushed out story for these two that I may have to sit down and write sometime.
The piano at the start makes me completely giddy in this one. This is one of the hopeful numbers on the album, the I still believe in you even if we have wrecked just about everything between us. Perhaps that is the hypocrisy in the kiss, the I forgive you but I will never forget kind of gifted redemption.
Weep Themselves to Sleep
This one I want to hear live so badly. Heartbreakingly raw and musically timeless, this time the piano slays me, tinkling away at those parts of me that look backwards with regrets. This feels more like a weep yourself through a sleepless night kind of song, in reality.
On the back of the album (see above) this song is noted as the start of “Side 2”, which makes me long for a turntable even more than I usually do. This is a damn hot number to start a side of an album with, full of lust and crushes and fuck I want you kind of feeling. The sound of the song reminds me of the rockabilly bands I used to see live back when I was a teenager, and how much fun those band’s songs were to dance to.
Trash Tongue Talker
The song starts out with a circus feel to it, as if the ringleader is on his way out to the middle of the makeshift stage, under a brightly colored tent, scream-shouting to the audience of all the things to come. Jack’s voice is damn sexy in this one (it has me “shakin‘”). Or maybe, if you consider the lyrics, the tent is for a travelling revivial preacher who shares the gospel of sin and sex, and salvation to the masses (yes, please).
Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy
Addictive and full of sing-a-long potential, this is one of those songs that you just have to play on repeat a few times, and then maybe a few times more. I love the carefree spirit to the song, the playfulness that teeters on childhood joy. I sort of want to see Jack perform this on Sesame Street with some muppet back-up singer and dancers (yes, seriously).
I Guess I Should Go To Sleep
Another song that mentions sleep that feels more like an ode to sleeplessness, or perhaps that is just my insomnia-skewed translation. This reminds me of country songs my Grandparents used to listen to, via the Grand Ole Opry, back when I was a young girl. The song would make a nice addition to a “lullabys for insomniacs” playlist.
On and On and On
Quite possibly due in part for my love of this season’s new show Nashville, this song is quickly becoming tied with my absolute favorite song on the album (shared with the album’s title, Blunderbuss). I say due to Nashville because I immediately picture Jack singing this at the Bluebird, with Raina and Deacon looking on in the audience, or perhaps a borrowed song from Jack for the characters to sing together. This is another song I am dying to hear performed live.
Take Me With You When You Go
Okay, I just could not hold back any longer and had to put up a live version of one of the songs on this amazing album. This song is just the perfect way to end the album, featuring the feelings of all of the ups and downs, soft and hard, small and big, and all that falls between moments on the album as a whole all in one song. There is something about this song that reminds me of the 70’s, the kind of rock on AM radio, and all the live music that showed late night on The Midnight Special.