Best Jack White Cover Songs
Jack White is one of the century’s most magnetic artists, drawing in fans of both classic and indie rock with his distinct style and wildly diverse guitar heroics. From his work with the White Stripes, as well as in various side projects, to his solo career, White is one of the millennium’s most restless artists. But he’s also a connoisseur of rock, pop and blues music of all shapes and sizes. He’s shown his love and respect over the years, from starting his own record company so he could release some long-neglected favorites to covering his influences on both record and stage. Our list of the Best Jack White Cover Songs merely scratches the surface of his depth.
The original version of ‘Conquest’ was sung in 1952 by Patti Page, whose pop career pretty much ended after rock ‘n’ roll took over the charts. Her gentle reading of the song gives it all the urgency of choosing between a vanilla or chocolate cone at the beach. But White (who recorded it on the White Stripes’ final album, ‘Icky Thump’) is in full manic mode, spitting words and bending his voice like a madman on a quest for salvation that most likely will never, ever come.
‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself’
The classic pop songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote ‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself’ in the early ’60s. It’s been covered many times over the past 50 years by artists like Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, Isaac Hayes and Elvis Costello. Its timeless melody and universal sentiment lend itself to the diversity. The White Stripes recorded it for their 2003 album ‘Elephant’ and released it as the LP’s second single.
White covered R&B roughneck Little Willie John’s 1960 classic on his debut solo album, 2012’s ‘Blunderbuss,’ and gives it a quivering reading that straddles the line between sexy and downright scary. John was a restless performer, straying into rock, doo-wop and blues territories during his short career; White similarly moves among various genres, which helps explain his connection on this killer cover of ‘I’m Shakin’.’
‘John the Revelator’
‘John the Revelator’ dates back to the turn of the century as a traditional gospel blues song and a bedrock of the genre. Blind Willie Johnson recorded it in 1930, and pretty much every version of it since then has been based on his gritty call-and-response arrangement. The White Stripes included the song in their concerts as part of a medley for years, with White turning the dusty blues number into a punk-style rave-up.
White’s version of the U2 song (originally from ‘Achtung Baby’) had been kicking around for a while, showing up on exclusive singles and in concert, before it found an even wider audience in 2013 via ‘The Great Gatsby’ soundtrack. It sorta sticks out among the mostly hip-hop tracks (the project was put together by Jay-Z), but White’s ferocious take on ‘Love Is Blindness’ gives it an urgency somewhat missing from U2’s original.