10 Best Jack White Songs
Very few indie rock artists have been as busy as Jack White over the past decade. In addition to fronting the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather (plus recently launching a solo career), White has written and produced records for country star Loretta Lynn and rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson, and he wrote and sang a James Bond theme with Alicia Keys. Dude has been plenty busy, so it was no easy task to break down all this work into just a handful of tracks. But somehow, we managed to pull together a list of the 10 Best Jack White Songs.
The opening cut and first single from the White Stripes' fifth album is a typically riff-heavy stomping rock 'n' roll song guided by White's fuzzy guitar and Meg White's thumping drums. 'Blue Orchid' might be about a breakup, but, as always with White's elliptical songs, it's kinda hard to tell. Either way, it's awesome.
While White fills the drummer role in the Dead Weather, leaving most lead vocals to the Kills' Alison Mosshart, his stamp is all over 'I Cut Like a Buffalo,' which he wrote. It's the best song on the debut album from one of White's side band -- slinky, sexy and loaded with swampy nighttime noises guaranteed to have you looking over your shoulder.
While the title track to the White Stripes' sixth and final album is still rooted in the group's bluesy garage rock, the woozy synthesizer that winds its way through the song hinted at some new musical terrain for the usually primitive duo. Weed your way through White's somewhat rambling lyrics, and you'll discover a rare message song about immigration issues.
The first single by White's side project with pals Brendan Benson and two guys from Cincinnati garage rockers the Greenhornes is way more relaxed than the music he was making with the White Stripes. The power-pop-minded Benson's influence is all over the record, which reached No. 1 on the modern rock chart -- a position White's full-time band had managed only once when 'Steady' stopped there.
The first single from White's debut solo album is a warm-sounding dip into '70s-style soul, complete with an electric organ rolling throughout. It's the coziest track on our list of the 10 Best Jack White Songs, a near duet with Ghanian singer Ruby Amanfu, who provides silky underlining to White's primal bite.
One of the White Stripes' simplest songs -- there's not much more to it than a few notes pounded out on guitar and Meg's usual drum smacks -- is also one of their toughest. In a way, this has been the template for most of the Stripes' output, but the kick on 'The Hardest Button to Button' is just so much harder.
White claims the inspiration for 'Sixteen Saltines,' next on our list of the 10 Best Jack White Songs, came from his daughter, who asked for that number of crackers for a snack. Whatever the case might be, it's the best song on White's debut solo album, a hard-rock beast that plows forward with a combination of heavy guitars, deep organ echoes and, somewhere in there, a fiddle.
The White Stripes had been inactive for three years (and just months away from breaking up) when this album track from the Dead Weather's second LP was released. Sounding hungrier than he has in years, he shares mic time with Mosshart on a grooving bass-heavy cut that's as much rooted in his past as it is hopeful for what's coming next.
The best song on the White Stripes' breakthrough album, their third, doesn't even clock in at two minutes. And every second is a glorious burst of guitar-powered punk that comes on like the Buzzcocks crossed with any one of those no-hit groups you'll find on the 'Nuggets' garage-rock compilations. The video -- in which Jack and Meg are depicted in Legos -- is really good too.
The greatest guitar riff of the '00s anchors this killer opening cut from the White Stripes' best and first Top 10 album. The song hit No. 1 on the modern rock chart (another first) and won a Grammy. But its legacy is greater than those stats. White (with some help from Meg, of course) pretty much makes two instruments sound like an entire band here, something he managed many times before and after 'Seven Nation Army.' But it never sounded as grand as it does on this terrific monster of a track, the topper on our list of the 10 Best Jack White Songs.