The White Stripes Biography
The White Stripes are an American minimalist rock duo from Detroit, composed of Jack White on guitar, piano, lead vocals and songwriting, and Meg White on drums, percussion and vocals. The group rose to prominence as part of the garage rock revival with the albums White Blood Cells and Elephant, the latter featuring their most commercially successful song "Seven Nation Army" which won the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Rock Song. The White Stripes are known for their raw low fidelity sound and the simplicity of their compositions and arrangements mostly inspired by punk rock, American blues and country music.
Interpersonal relationships, especially between men and women, are the main theme of the lyrics of the White Stripes songs. Jack White does not, as a rule, write about politics. However, "The Big Three Killed My Baby", could be considered as a political song because the lyrics are an attack on the automotive industry's poor workmanship and the fall of the major labor unions of the 1960s to 1980s. Also, in an altered version of the song played on stage, Jack sings: "and Bush's hands are turning red…and I found out your baby is dead."The song "The Union Forever" features lines from the Orson Welles film Citizen Kane.
Many of The White Stripes songs refers to school and childhood ("Sister, Do You Know My Name?", "We're Going to Be Friends", "I Think I Smell a Rat", "Black Math", "The Hardest Button to Button",Passive Manipulation).
Curiously, all five studio albums feature songs with titles starting with the word "little." In order of album release, there is "Little People", "Little Bird", "Little Room", "Little Acorns" and most recently, "Little Ghost." Furthermore, on the intro to the song "Let's Build a Home", on the "De Stijl" album, there is a recording of a song called "Little Red Box." This convention may be linked with appreciation of earlier American Blues songs, such as "Little Red Rooster."
Additionally, Jack frequently mentions a "Suzy Lee", both in songs and in the albums' liner notes. (See Band motifs)
Red, white and black, the band's signature colors, are, according to Jack, "the most powerful color combination of all time, from a Coca-Cola can to a Nazi banner." Those colors are also found in the duo's distinctive wardrobe and album artwork, although it is somewhat unclear why they were chosen. In some interviews, the group has said that the colors red and white refer to peppermint candy, a symbol of childhood innocence. The NHL team from Detroit is the Red Wings, and their official colors are red and white. Jack has also mentioned that the colors are the same ones used in baby toys because they are easily visible to infants, who are slightly colorblind at birth. Interestingly, before forming the band, Jack had also created a three-color scheme for an upholstery business he started in his early twenties. All of his tools, his van, and his uniform used the colors white, black, and yellow.
The number three
Jack has emphasized the significance the number three holds for the band, citing it as inspiration not only for their tri-colored uniforms, but their pared-down approach to what he considers the three elements of song: storytelling, melody and rhythm. The number three also frequently appears in White Stripes' album artwork, and texts written by Jack, such as liner notes or messages written on the band's website, are often signed with "Jack White III" or simply "III." There are also only three sounds: drums, guitar, and vocals in most of their songs; sometimes keyboard or piano is substituted for guitar. Also notable is Jack's admiration for the Carol Reed film "The Third Man," (which is similarly the name of his production company).
Jack White will sometimes make references to an unknown "Suzy Lee" in his work. The name first appeared on the band's debut album The White Stripes with her own song, aptly titled "Suzy Lee". The name appears in an eponymous track as well as "We're Going to Be Friends" and the Stripes' cover of Brendan Benson's "Good To Me". Additionally, the liner notes of Elephant dedicate the album to her, and those of Get Behind Me Satan make further reference. Though the significance of "Suzy Lee" to White and his work is evident, the specifics of this connection are not. "Suzy Lee" may figure as a concept, as suggested by the Elephant liner notes, which go on to mention "the death of the sweetheart", and those of Get Behind Me Satan, which address "Suzy Lee, wherever you may be". Alternatively, the name could represent an actual person, such as a lover or a relative. In any case, the band has never clarified the exact meaning of the name, fueling speculation on the part of fans.