January 28, 2017

Spitting out these 300 M.P.H. Outpour Blues

I love the way Jack White talks about the music that's meaningful to him.  In a panel discussion about the Rise and Fall of Paramount Records back in 2013, surrounded by erudite, scholarly types and people who write about music for a living, his descriptions of the songs and the impact they had on him was down-to-earth and easily relateable.  In that snippet above, what he says about the song Mama's Angel Child especially resonated with me-- That part about "he's speaking for me", that's one of the things that definitely draws us to music. Those songs that speak for us, the ones that make us feel as if the song-writer pulled our own thoughts and feelings out of us and set them to a melody, are intensely powerful.

Jack's wish that we could all have the sort of moment he had with Mama's Angel Child was fulfilled for me with one of his own songs, one that's come up at this blog a couple times over the last few years-- 300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues. It's the song that first grabbed me and shook me and told me I had to get into his music. If you held a gun to my head and forced me to name my favorite White Stripes song, this one would be it. To my ears, it represents everything about him as a song-writer-- The cleverness of the word-play, the deceptive simplicity of what he's expressing, the dramatic shifts in dynamic.  It's soft, it's tempestuous, it's acoustic, it's electric, it's acerbic and thoughtful, wry and regretful.  And it speaks for me in a way that is both reassuring and unsettling.

"I'm getting hard on myself, sitting in my easy chair..."

So many of us go through that dance with self-loathing angst--  "I'm not this enough, I'm not that enough, I'm not good enough, I'm not doing enough, why did I do that?, why did I say that?, why didn't I say that?, I really screwed up, I'm really screwed up...."  And yet our lives, to anyone looking in from the outside, are perfectly fine. We have food, shelter, family, friends.  Money may or may not be a little tight, but we can pay our bills, buy some records, and go see a movie once in a while. And yet we suffer.  We get hard on ourselves sitting in our easy chairs.  Why?

"Safe to say somebody out there's got a problem with almost everything you do..."

So much wisdom, and again so simple. But one of the hardest lessons for some of us to learn, something we get hung up on over and over again and that leads us right back to that easy chair, getting hard on ourselves. For what?

"Well, sooner or later, the ground's gonna be holdin' all of my ashes, too..."

And yet, there's a defiance of all those troubles at the end, the strength to stand up to those who have a problem with everything we do and, just as hard, to stand up to our own selves.  That final twist, that's the reassurance this song gives us--  

"One thing's for sure, in that graveyard... I'm gonna have the shiniest pair of shoes."

If that's not the blues, I don't know what the hell is.



JakobGreen said...

Great post and a great read!

KaliDurga said...

Thank you, sir.