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Arts in Review

A Letter to the White Stripes

Dear Jack and Meg, Oh well. Oh well. Oh well. I’m searching my head for something clever to say. Don’t go away. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, but I every time I see you, I won­der why, why since you released your statement on February 2nd calling an end to the thirteen-year odyssey that has been the White Stripes, I’ve been mad with grief. I just don’t know what to do with myself.

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By Paul Falardeau (Arts & Life Editor) – Email

Dear Jack and Meg,

Oh well. Oh well. Oh well. I’m searching my head for something clever to say. Don’t go away. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, but I every time I see you, I won­der why, why since you released your statement on February 2nd calling an end to the thirteen-year odyssey that has been the White Stripes, I’ve been mad with grief. I just don’t know what to do with myself.

You see, I was sitting there in a comfortable chair when my friend first handed me, burnt copies of White Blood Cells and Elephant (Don’t worry, over the years I’ve bought several copies of each) and it was all that I needed. I was hooked. Those albums grabbed me by the lapels and said “Right now you could care less about me, but soon enough you will care, by the time I’m done.” Inexora­bly, your little band has been a part of my life, through thick and thin. You’ve been a soundtrack to summer drives, the basis of entire friendships, and worth getting drenched in the rain to see live.

I was mystified by your clair­voyance: how did you know Cells would be your breakout album? Was it coincidence that the two of you are on the cover, surrounded by photographers or that “Fell in Love with a Girl” happens to be the most perfect piece of rock and roll in less than two minutes to have ever existed?

Of course, I’m not accusing you of being sell-outs. Far from it. Take Elephant, the other one of my illegally begot beauties. Since that first listen I have – and I’m not exaggerating – found something new in that masterpiece with each listen. Whether it was a tricky lit­tle backbeat, a clever lyric or a new set of meanings behind it all, it is nothing short of a beautiful piece of art.

Elephant has some dark and challenging subject matter as a relationship falls apart verse by verse, yet you never lost your in­nocence and maybe that’s what I love most about the White Stripes. There is any number of wonderful bands out there, but you guys were unique, really. Whether it was the threes that floated throughout your world, the red, white, and black colour scheme that painted everything you did, or the endless collectability your band has (I still can’t get my hands on “Top Spe­cial”) it was perfect. You managed to have more swagger and brava­do than most rappers, yet remain humble and innocent enough to appeal to everyone.

And versatile too. Whether it was the tongue-in-cheek “Your Southern Can is Mine,” the rau­cous “Black Math” or the country-fried “Little Ghost” you kept us guessing. By the way, way to pull the rug out from under us with Get Behind Me Satan. From the huge commercial success of Elephant you went in a completely different direction. That was your Led Zep­pelin III.

My left brain knows that love is fleeting, but I still am having trouble letting go. It helps to read the message you left for us:

“The White Stripes do not be­long to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it what­ever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your in­volvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful.”

You’re right, again. The beauti­ful thing about your music is that it was built to last. From the mo­ment we decided that we were go­ing to be friends on White Stripes you were getting ready to say goodbye. The special collectable album singles from Icky Thump, the collaborations with Beck, the songs in Spanish, the slide gui­tar on De Stijl’s “Death Latter,” the tours that hit every Canadian province and Territory. You creat­ed a real and lasting body of work in a musical world that fetishizes the here-today-gone-tomorrow pop that clogs my radio dial. The chickens get it, and them singing canaries get it, even strawber­ries get it, and now I do too. You are too good to last, I would have hated to see you fizzle, best to bow and smile.

As a wiser man said, “My only friends speak no words to me, but they look at me and they don’t forget,” Well, we’ll be keeping an eye on your camp at Third Man Records; we miss you already, so send us some tasty treats from the Vault, we wanna get it, Stripes, while it’s hot. You think it’s trash, Whites, but it’s not, we’ll be taking whatever you got!

Well, I should bring this to an end. I’ve got a little feeling going now, and I think it’s time to drop the needle on some wax. Your mu­sic will live forever, if only because I’ll be taking good care of the part of it that’s mine. After all. that’s what this was about, the connec­tion, the conversation, the love. Oh, and the peppermints.

With love, and with faith in your medicine,

Your Candy Cane Children

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