The Leisure List: This Mr White is also breaking bad
Published 09/06/2014 | 02:30
Jack be nimble? The beguiling singer-songwriter from Detroit, Michigan —the youngest of ten children — couldn’t be any other way. He is never one thing for long.
Jack White’s new album Lazeretto is a another bizarre journey into his idiosyncracy. The title of the album, his second solo release, either refers to the spooky floating hospitals or quarantine stations for sick sailors and maritime travellers (ships sometimes at anchor on ghostly islands in the middle of nowhere for months or years) or a place to tend to lepers called a Lazar house, in reference to Lazarus.
So far, so dark from Jack White.
The actual record is full of slightly bonkers heavy blues /southern rock stomps tracks that sound like a ramshackle Rage Against The Machine channelling The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street and Dr John’s Gris-Gris albums with the ghost of RL Burnside producing. (It will certainly make for interesting listening when he plays Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, in a little over three weeks.)
On Would You Fight For My Love?, he is baring his soul in perhaps the only way that Jack White can: “Well I’m afraid of being hurt, that’s true, but not afraid of any physical pain/ Just as I’m always scared of water but not afraid of being out in the rain.”
On Just One Drink — which starts out like the Velvet Underground’s Waiting For The Man but before going all off-kilter Gram Parsons on a mad piano — the recently divorced Jack is bemoaning his love-life thus: “I love you but, honey, why don’t you love me?”
“I’m becoming a ghost, so nobody can know me,” he sings on the piano-led Alone In My Home.
Then the most famous Mr White since Walter from Breaking Bad sings with his tongue-very-much-in-his-cheek on Three Women:
“I know what you’re thinking, what gives you the right/ Well, these women must be getting something because they come and see me every night.” On the same song, he also sings the lines: “I got three women, red, blonde and brunette/ It took a digital photograph to pick which one I liked.”
Jack went to the effort to point out to Rolling Stone magazine in an interview that his lyrics are not necessarily autobiographical — or even misogynist.
“If you know anything about me, do you think I like digital photography? No. I don’t. So obviously this song is not about f**king Jack White, so f**k you!” he said in a perhaps over-sensitive reference to a female journalist who wrote in 2012 that Jack possessed perhaps dated attitudes towards the fairer sex.
“I’ve worked with more women than anyone you’ll ever meet,” he continued. “If you’re that chick who wrote that article — and I say chick on purpose — she won’t understand that line, because she doesn’t do her research.”
The former frontman of White Stripes — whose seminal album Seven Nation Army, sold over four million copies — told The Guardian a little more calmly last week: “I write what I write, and some people might think one thing and other people something else.
“I know it’s not about me, so I get a little bit upset that I have to waste so much time clearing that up with the listener or the press or whatever. It feels a little bit like this is a conversation from the 1960s, when people like Dylan broke those barriers down. I shouldn’t have to have this conversation now.”
Maybe Mr White will continue the conversation at the Hospital.
Jack White , with special guests The Kills, play Royal Hospital Kilmainham on 26 June. For information go to www.mcd.ie
The four-minute interview with chef Paul Flynn
1. What’s been the best decade of your life so far and why?
I would say my 40s because I had my children. My 20s would be very high up there too – you have lots of fun at that age, but really for me, having my family has been the best time of my life.
2. What was the worst moment of your life?
The worst moment of my life – I suppose maybe when I lost my father, I was very close to him.
3. What secret skill or talent do you have?
Belly dancing – I have a belly and I can dance!
4. If there was one song you associated with your youth, what would it be?
From my very early youth, it has to be Depeche Mode ‘Just can’t get enough’. When I hear it, I vividly remember doing the leaving cert and the after celebrations with good mates.
5. What was the last lie you told?
“I’m only going for one” – that’s a frequently told one!
6. What do you consider the greatest work of art?
Some people regard food as art, and others regard food as pure and simple fuel. I’m caught somewhere in the middle. Cooking in the country will ground you.
7. Which local star, in any field, should the world (outside of Britain and Ireland) know about?
I’m going to answer in the collective – Hurling – they’re all local stars. I think it’s the greatest game of the world played by amateurs and it makes the overpaid, sissy football stars look ridiculous.
8. What is your greatest regret?
Not travelling more. It’s important to do it before you have commitments.
9. What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?
There’s no guilt attached to it, but I love to have a pint and read the papers on a Sunday evening after a long week’s work.
10. Who is/was the love of your life?
Honestly, my wife Máire, because with every mad decision I have ever made, she stood by me.
11. What is your present state of mind?
I’ve realised that my natural state is always hovering near anxiety!
12. What are the consolations of getting older?
I would like to think wisdom, but it’s sillier I’m getting!
13. What living heroes or heroines do you have?
I admire anybody who devotes their life to other people and who isn’t necessarily motivated by money.
14. What is your best chat up line?
I can’t tell you the best because I never had one – I was rubbish! But my worst was when I tried to convince a girl in London that I was a builder, it seemed more glamorous than being a chef at the time. She didn’t believe me!
15. What is the best lesson life has taught you?
Think things through - eventually.
Flags by Jasper Johns (born 1930)
Oil on canvas
Skip this if you’re in a hurry. Surveys show that in an art gallery we give a painting five to seven seconds of our time. An artist could have spent days, weeks, years on a work but we just whizz by it.
The Mona Lisa is different. She’s famous. Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece gets, on average, all of fifteen seconds. We’ve come all this way to Paris, France. We’ve joined the queue. Hey, it’s really small. Where’s the café?
But paintings deserve to be looked at. For Jasper Johns “Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it” and in this Johns painting he’s made sure you take a good look.
Viewing this work is truly interactive. And no plug or batteries needed. Steady yourself and stare at the white spot at the centre of the green, orange and black flag for thirty seconds without blinking. Then blink, switch and stare at the black dot in the grey flag beneath. Presto! The Star-Spangled banner, the familiar flag of the world’s wealthiest country, swims into view. And you’ve painted the picture!
Jasper Johns, born Allendale, South Carolina, had been painting flags since the early Fifties after being discharged from the US Army where he had served two years during the Korean War. This one, from 1965, his final Flag painting, plays with identity. “I am interested in the idea of sight, in the use of the eye. I am interested in how we see the way we do.”
In his artwork Johns was “interested in things that suggest the world rather than suggest the personality” and national flags, more than two-hundred of them, represent the world’s diversity and range. Flags are everywhere. They fly high, they drape coffins, they are trampled on and burnt, they catch many different emotions: pride, rage, madness, hope, fear, defiance, revolution.
“Wrap the green flag round me boys!” Think Ukraine, Russia. Think One Direction concerts [“I love Harry” flags]. Remember the Tricolour and Union Jack side-by-side at Windsor. Think Croke Park on a September Sunday. That’s us. They become our identity.
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