The Same Boy You’ve Always Known

Sorry for the delay between posts, but all I can remember about the last two weeks is giving a guest lecture at Villanova.

Before returning to our regularly scheduled programming, I’d like to share a recent medical breakthrough.

I’m pretty sure I’ve Jonas Salked depression.

If it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, here’s what you should do: Bring a 2 year old to the beach.

Watching a toddler chase seagulls and splash around in the ocean should fetch just the kind of unbridled elation you need to witness if you have holes in the knees of your blues.

So flush your Lexapro, steal a little kid, and head for the coast. Everything is going to be all right.

Also, it helps if the beach is this far from your front door and this is the 2 year old:

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NOW, since I been gone, I realized I missed an important birthday and that’s something we shall have to remedy.

Jack White turned 40 last week. Your thoughts of him aside, there’s no argument: Jack is up there with Kanye, Bono, and Brian Nagle in terms of modern day emotional depth and articulation.

It’s for this reason—and after a rough couple of months involving “Music is Sacred” and a guacamole scandal—that Jack deserves a proper birthday acknowledgement.

After all, your kids will have Jack White posters on their walls.

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Jack White might be 40, but his biggest fans haven’t been born yet.

Obviously that statement sounds foolish considering his career to this point.

Millions of records sold, hundreds of sold out concerts, multiple Grammys, collaborations with what seems like every renowned musician from what seems like every musical genre, and recognition as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

However, what you and I think of Jack White is irrelevant because we won’t define him.

The curious thing about revisionist history is that the driving influences steering the revision are often those who weren’t witnesses to the very history being revised.

Subsequent generations often articulate landmark moments missed by those who actually lived them.

This is a good thing.

There are times when it’s impossible to appreciate things as they unfold because we have no context in which to place them.

That’s what is happening right now with Jack White.

Ask a group of teenagers what they think of music today. Chances are they will tell you how much it sucks. They will tell you how music today is nothing like it was in the 60s and 70s and how they are jealous of everyone who was lucky enough to grow up during that time.

This answer is entirely unfair to everyone who grew up in the 60s and 70s.

I know a guy who saw Led Zeppelin at the Boston Garden on September 7, 1971. It was nearly three years after the band released their eponymous debut album and a month before they released their fourth and best-selling album.

The setlist included popular songs such as “Dazed and Confused”, “Immigrant Song”, “Whole Lotta Love”, and “Communication Breakdown”.

The band also snuck in some new songs.

Songs such as “Black Dog”, “Going to California”, “Rock and Roll”, and “Stairway to Heaven”.

Personally, I can’t imagine what it was like to be at that show. This guy heard “Stairway to Heaven” live before it was even released. That would easily go down as one of the greatest nights of my life.

But whenever I ask him about the show his review is remarkably measured.

He tells me it was a great concert, but only with the passage of time did he realize, “Holy shit I can’t believe what I saw.”

This isn’t to compare the two musically, but future generations will be jealous of us growing up with Jack White the same way I’m jealous of this guy for seeing Zeppelin.

This jealousy, however, is entirely unfounded.

After all, how can a person be expected to appreciate something as it’s happening when they don’t know it’s happening?[1]

It’s for this reason that we’re destined to be regaled with stories about Jack White that we experienced in real time given by kids who read about it decades later. We’ll have no idea as to what these raconteurs are talking about, but I suspect the stories will go something like this:

Did you know Jack White only recorded in analog?! Did you know he edited his tape with a razor blade?!

Or:

Did you know Jack White assembled one band of men and one band of women and took them both on tour with him and only one band would perform each show and he wouldn’t announce which band it would be until the morning of the show?!

Or:

Do you know why Jack White wanted red, white, and black to be the White Stripes’ colors? It’s because they are the most powerful color combination of all time! Think about it! Everything from a Coke can to a Nazi banner!

As endearing as these history lessons will be, the truth is that if I were to tell future generations about what it was like to grow up with Jack White I would tell them about my first memory of him.

It was his performance on The Late Show With David Letterman with the White Stripes in 2002. I remember him dressed entirely in red, thinking he was a clown, and dismissing him immediately.

I’ll never tell them that, of course.

I’ll make sure to tell them how great it was to be a witness to Jack White’s genius because that’s what they’ll want to hear.

I’ll tell them that, and then I’ll wonder what it was like to see Zeppelin in ’71.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] I wouldn’t expect anyone to admit it, but you know there are people who saw Zeppelin in ‘71 and ran to get a beer when Stairway started because they didn’t recognize it.

 

2 thoughts on “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known”

  1. Great article & blog!! Had a blast with you and your buds tailgating at AC/DC. Always enjoy talking to a fellow music lover. Forgot to tell you about another top 5 concert when Jimmy Page toured with the Black Crowes and they played all Zeppelin songs. Enjoy your Zep Fest!! Hopefully we can hang again at the next great concert.

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