Drove up to Shepherdstown today just to buy a bag of tea from the Lost Dog, on what would have been my sister's 50th birthday, 10 years and a day after the breakup of the White Stripes, and a few days before the 11th anniversary of my first White Weekend. There was snow on the ground along the West Virginia roads and a blue sky between the clouds above just like there was 11 years ago when I fell down the Jack White rabbit hole, which feels like it was half a lifetime ago even though it's only been a fifth of my life. Of course, I had to pull up the song that started it all, the final line of which still raises goosebumps on my arms.
Lotta reflection going on lately. I'm more than half a century old and feel like I've been in a mid-life crisis for a good 15 years or so. And now we're in the middle of a deadly global pandemic, at risk of hatred becoming mainstream, my sister died of Alzheimer's a few months ago, I've become distant from friends, and it's hard to not wonder just what's so dear about life.
But through most of that "crisis" time, there's been Jack and everything he's brought into my life. I've learned so much through him, either directly or from other musicians and artists that orbit around him (like Brendan Benson, above). I wanted to write a whole series of posts about all of those things last year in honor of my 10th White Weekend anniversary, but when I got started it became too overwhelming. I couldn't find enough words to go into it all-- The breadth and depth of blues music; the African-American history and culture that birthed the blues and evolved all the way to hip-hop; country music and it's indebtedness to multiple cultures; an acceptance of women's voices, for both the sound of them and what they have to say; the meditative elegance of baseball; the symbolic vibrations of colors; Bob Dylan's sense of humor; my own need for attention and capacity for petty jealousy; and that an awareness of the world outside your own little bubble is necessary, though it can be both rewarding and frustrating.
I've been lead to Son House, Charlie Patton, Elvis Presley, Pokey LaFarge, C.W. Stoneking, Margo Price, Hasil Adkins, Eddie Hazel & Funkadelic, Ma Rainey, James Booker, Mattiel, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, Skip James, Beck, Dex Romweber, Captain Beefheart, Beyonce, Radkey, Alexis Zoumbas, Mick Collins, William Tyler, the Soul Surfers, the J.B.s, Shovels & Rope, Patsy Cline, Moondog, Little Willie John, Joshua Hedley, the Greenhornes, Courtney Barnett, Alison Mosshart, Danny Kroha, Chicano Batman, the 184.108.40.206.s, and so much more.
For a long time all of this brought me great joy and excitement, but those've been commodities in short supply over the past year. Blame it on Covid, that never-ending mid-life crisis, work, Icky Trump & the GOP, lack of travel and musical events, a dearth of exposure to Jack, whatever.
I need a chance to set myself on fire. But I'd probably just end up doing the same thing.