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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"7 Nation Army"

The White Stripes - 7 Nation Army (2003)

Jack White used to call The Salvation Army the 7 Nation Army when he was a child.

Two instruments and one voice. Takes us back to some of the earliest songs in the book. Allons a Lafayette was one male voice, a guitar and an accordion. St. Louis Blues was two instruments and a female voice, though three people were involved. During Jack White's portion of It Might Get Loud he plays us a recording of his favorite song. It is one man (Son House) singing and clapping his own rhythm. This makes pretty clear what the White Stripes are in a musical sense. Basic blues based with a twist.
The "bass" guitar sound on this track is Jack using an octave pedal. I had never heard of one before hearing this song, but they are now at least more common knowledge. Obviously in the studio version there is some use of multi-tracking, but live he does just push the pedal and switch back into the regular octave for the guitar and keep playing. Meg's drums are not at all background here. They are full volume in the mix, and yet rarely spoken of. She is a very stripped down drummer, nothing fancy, playing only what is necessary. I think the drums are insistent and driving, two things I love in a drummer. Having listened to it a few times now, I am surprised that it is almost 4 minutes long. I would have told you the song was shorter if you asked me.
A few secondary thoughts. The cover for the single is a really crappy image when you think about it. Jack is all in red, sitting on a stool, painting; using Meg as a model. the background is all red, but Meg is wearing all white. Jack is painting a white elephant. Also, Jack told MTV that when he wrote the riff he thought if he ever got asked to write a James Bond theme he would use that riff. Five years later he was asked.

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