Jack White: "Here is a list of who Meg and I feel influenced us the most. It's not a list of what we think are the most important bands in rock's history, or the most important or influential records of our time. It's just our influences, which we worked hard to nail down. It's almost as if the white stripes, the band, has different influences than either of us individually"
"Probably the epitome of '60s punk. Psycho Cinderella, The Witch - animalistic screams signifying the base thoughts of mid-60s bored teens. Harder than the Kinks, and punk long before punk, now finally getting the recognition they deserve. Life becomes better after buying a Sonics record, or at least more tolerable."
Essential Purchase: Psycho-sonic
Jack: "Of all the blues artists that we love, our favorites would probably be Son House, Blind Willie McTell and Skip James. But it's Robert Johnson that inspired and influenced us most. A full ranged, truly beautiful singer. Good and evil are equally presented in his songs. A tag along to Charlie Patton, Son House and Willie Brown, Johnson in most way surpassed them all. He out-sung, out-played, and out-performed all of the greats of his time in that area of Mississippi, even if he wasn't as popular as them at the time. If the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame made any sense at all (which it doesn't) the building would be names after him."
Essential purchase "the complete recordings" 1996
Jack: "Yea, a lot of blues purists say, "oh, Robert Johnson - whatever." But there's a reason he's so popular - he was the best. His technique was so subtle you barely noticed the intricacies of his playing. My favorite thing of his is how he ended his tunes. They almost sound like throw-away endings that he didn't take seriously, but they were so perfect."
Jack: Everybody nowadays, every rock and roll band is directly linked to Robert Johnson whether they know or not. If a band is influenced by Nirvana and Nirvana is influenced by the Pixies and the Pixies are influenced by some 70's punk band, and the punk band is influenced by..er..you know, some band from the 60's, which goes back to Little Richard, it's going....if you keep walking down that line you're going right back to Robert Johnson and if you keep walking through Robert Johnson you go right back to Son House, and Willie Brown, back to Charley Patton.
Jack: Son House, you know was traveling around and playing different jukejoints and places like that and bbq's.And Robert Johnson kept coming around and tagging along and trying to play with him and saying, you know.."Let me play...guitar with you." and they kept saying, "No, get out of here kid" you know...."You don't know how to play. They didn't see him for like 6 months...or something...like that. All of a sudden he came back and he was brilliant, you know, he was an amazing guitar player, and he just blew their minds and they couldn't believe he had learned to play guitar so quickly and so great.”
WHITE: I want to join that family of songwriters and story- tellers, just as Robert Johnson did: all of Robert Johnson's songs were coming from Son House and Charlie Patton and Willie Brown. it's the same thing with us. I just didn't want to reference the bands that came out two years ago before we started, you know, because you're referencing a reference of a reference of a reference. When you're interested in folk music in America--the reality of it--you're forced to go back, way back, in the past to get down to the nitty- gritty of what it's all about and what expression through song is about.
Captain Beefheart and his magic band
"He brought the feeling of Howlin' Wolf into white rock n' roll. Their first single, Diddy Wah Diddy, has a foot-breaking bass line. Safe as Milk, their first album, showed Beefheart's deep interest in the blues, and its track Electricity proves his genius. The album Trout Mask Replica is his masterpiece and is probably one of the most unique records in music history. Great artists to play at a get-together and tell who your friends really are."
Essential purchase "trout mask replica" 1969
"The greatest female singer-songwriter of the 20th century. She broke down numerous barriers for women, wrote he own songs in a time when nobody did, let alone women, and tackled subject matter that everyone else was afraid to touch. She was not a fake product of the Nashville system, but made it by herself, along with the help of her husband Doo Little. If you see the movie Coal Miner's Daughter and don't feel anything, or listen to her records and don't hear anything, put down your guitar and take up jigsaw puzzles."
Essential purchase "Honky Tonk Girl" 1994
A couple years ago, after finishing up White Blood Cells in Memphis, Jack and Meg were driving back home when they spotted a road sign for "Loretta Lynn's Dude Ranch." They wound up in Hurricane Mills, parked in front of the same mansion depicted in the film. Recalls White with an embarrassed laugh, "It was closed at the time, so we were sitting there in the rental car, and Meg had a cigarette - and she threw it out the window! 'No! No! Don't throw a cigarette out at Loretta's house!'" Reckoning their unexpected detour to be a good omen, they dedicated the album to Lynn and the rest is history. Lynn wrote a letter of thanks, ultimately inviting them back down to Hurricane Mills for a tour of the museum and a spot of down-home cooking. (Lynn wasn't joking onstage in New York; she really did fix Jack and Meg a biscuits-and-gravy dinner.) Dan Miller: Loretta Lynn invited them to her ranch, and I went with them. It was funny -- her manager was asking, "So, what's Detroit like? Don't you ever want to move anyplace else?" We talked a little bit about the city's shortcomings. It's not the most cosmopolitan place in the world. But as Jack pointed out, we're not leaving -- "Detroit's home."
Loretta: "When we met, I noticed her [Meg's] eyes were red and I said "What's wrong with Meg?" and Jack says 'She's so happy to be on the same stage as you." She'd been crying. Isn't that somethin'? I love Meg. But when me and Jack was recording, she was visiting a boyfriend right in Nashville and didn't come by the studio--so I'm gonna whup her!"
Meg: "She has written so many songs, saying it like it is, and saying things that people didn't dare to say at the time she did it."
"American soldiers stationed in Germany who became "anti-Beatles" : a banjo with a microphone in it to make it electric, a fuzz bass in '66, and an amazing singer, not to mention the drummer and organist, both out of this galaxy with what they were doing. I Hate You is probably their masterpiece - "I hate you with a passion baby…but call me!" True grit. Their melodies were pop destructive and must be played to your younger brother."
Essential purchase "black monk time" 1997
"They only released one 45. The B-side, Rat's Revenge Part 2 (Black Cat), is my favorite garage rock record. No other record is a better example of being in a group of teenage boys working on something together. It's completely hilarious! And most of it sounds ad-lib. They aren't trying to act cool, or tough, they're just having a blast making a record."
Essential purchase "Back from the grave Vol.1"
"Impossible for us not to call him an influence. And we imagine the same for any musician who truly loves music. Probably no need to tell you why. Our favorite albums are Nashville Skyline, Blood on the Tracks and Desire. Important: do not trust people who call themselves musicians or record collectors who say that they don't like Bob Dylan or the Beatles. They do not love music if those words come out of their mouths. They love record sleeves and getting attention for their hobby, but they don't love music.
Essential purchase "Nashville Skyline/Blood on the Tracks/Desire"
Regarding Jacks performance of Ball & Biscuit with Bob Dylan on March 17th, 2004 at the State Theatre in Detroit:
Jack: "There's no topping that, can go on for an hour-and-a-half talking about it, or I can just say: It was splendid."
JW: I really can't talk about it. I probably shouldn't talk about it.
MW: I was reading his autobiography just recently. I really thought it was a good book, I liked it a lot. I liked the way he writes the book, very stream-of-consciousness, like the last word in the paragraph will be what the next paragraph's about. It just changes all the time. He manages to maintain his personal life, and not talk about what he doesn't want to, but at the same time you get a lot of insight into where he was coming from, and how he was thinking about things. It made me like him even more.
JW: I was gonns read it but it doesn't have any pictures in it.
But what did it feel like walking onto his stage?
JW: I'd rather not say. I'm sorry. Maybe some other day.
MW: Yeah, because people are prying into his stuff all of the time, people were trying to make him into something he didn't think he was. He just wanted to do his thing, not to be considered the voice of a generation - like they owned him, you know? They wouldn't leave him alone, he got no privacy.
JW: I guess I like that about him. It seems like everybody today is so available - ready, willing and available for anything, and will go on and be part of a reality show at the drop of a hat. It seems like nobody has any sort of dignity any more. Dylan was trying to maintain his dignity, and a lot of people from an era earlier than maybe 40 or 50 years, it was easier to maintain that dignity. But I think something's really been lost world-wide. They don't want you to have dignity, they just don't want you to. It pisses them off. They wanna tear you down if you have dignity. It scares them. They're not jealous. They're just scared I think. It's like what I weas saying before about rules. They don't wanna be told that there's rules. Like, there's no possible way that you could be so dignified, we have to find out something about you that makes you dignified. I mean, you tell me, who's got dignity nowadays that's a celebrity? It's rare, it's very rare!
"The best garage band in America since the '60s. Very primitive, very good, and not very good. Like many garage bands, The Gories songs were mostly ripped off, but they definitely laid down the low in Detroit and made people with Les Pauls and Marshall amps look like idiots. From the early to late '90s they made three albums and a handful of 45s. Our favorite songs are Feral, View From Here, Trick Bag and Nitro-glycerine."
Essential purchase "I know you're Fine, but how you doin"
BEN BLACKWELL: Jack really looks up to the Gories. He bought "Broad Appeal" and Mick Collins was behind him in line. And Jack was all excited -- "Mick Collins was just behind me in line!"
"Their second album, Fun House, is the greatest rock'n'roll record ever made."
Essential purchase "Fun House" 1970
For more information on Jack's love of the Stooges try to pick up a issue 119 of Mojo magazine where Jack White interviews Iggy Pop. It is the October 2003 edition with Jack and Iggy on the cover .
The Gun Club
"Their first album, Fire Of Love (Ruby 1981), is a big influence on us. The songwriting of Kid Congo Powers and Jeffrey Lee Pierce has the freshest white take on the blues of it's time. Sex Beat, She's Like Heroin To Me, and For The Love of Ivy…why are these songs not taught in schools?
Essential purchase "Fire of Love" 2001
The Troggs, The Flatduo Jets, Cole Porter, The Yardbirds, Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps, Blind Willie Johnson, Tampa Red, Irvingberlin, The Velvet Underground, Hank Williams.
5.1 Who have influenced the White Stripes?
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