February 8, 2010

A White weekend.

My Facebook status on Saturday morning read, "White (snow) outside the window, and White (Jack) coming out of the speakers. One in massive amounts is definitely preferable to the other."  For those of you who haven't heard, a record-setting snow-storm hit the mid-Atlantic region beginning this past Friday.  Total snowfall ranged from 2-3 feet and created a three-day, housebound weekend for the majority of the population.  I told everyone at work last week that I'd be out and about by Sunday, and damned if I wasn't.  Spent over two hours digging around the car, then waited for the snow removal company to come with a skid loader to haul away the piles that the plow had left behind my parking space.  A few spun wheels later and my little Civic was out for a quick trip to the grocery and video stores.

I was out of the house again at 8:15 this morning for a dentist appointment (the only one who hadn't canceled on them by that point) and had a ball surfing the car over the compacted-but-churned 3 inches or so that was on most of the roads.  And, as much as I'll hate the stuff when I have to commute to work through it tomorrow, I must admit that the deep, untouched, virginal white snow, sparkling like a donut covered with little icy sprinkles, was achingly beautiful.   

My only fear, of course, was those folks who are either so scared they shouldn't be on the road, or so obliviously, arrogantly cocky that they put the rest of us in jeopardy.  I feel for the former, and give them as much room as I can.  The latter, though, deserve little patience and I can't help but hope for them to have an accident.  Not one serious enough for them to get hurt, there's really no malice to this wish.  Just bad enough to damage their car and make them piss their pants.  That's the only thing that will teach them the common sense necessary for driving in this weather.

Though there was one guy in a massive pickup truck who was actually passing and weaving through traffic in places where the snow and slush narrowed the usual two full lanes into one and a half.  He might actually need a concussion and a broken arm to learn anything. 

To pass the otherwise snowbound hours (and hours and hours) at home, I surfed the 'net for info about and videos by Jack White of The White Stripes/The Raconteurs/The Dead Weather/It Might Get Loud/Who knows what he'll be doing next?-fame and developed myself a full-fledged new musical infatuation.

I mentioned once before that I'd been wanting to get into The White Stripes for a while because it's obvious that there's just something about Jack.  But I had no clue as to the levels of complexity, whimsy, and just plain raw talent in this guy.  As always, it took the right song at the right moment for it all to sink in and grab me.  The tune that did it is one from his project before last, The Raconteurs.  It's a torchy number tweaked with some backwards-output sections that put it in a league apart from the traditional blues that White apparently loves.  But the big surprise to me was Jack's voice.  As usual, that's the hook for me.  I had initially considered his high-register, often nasal vocals to be interesting, even cool, but most of the White Stripes tunes I'd listened to were too quirky to pick up on his emotive abilities.  Blue Veins has emotion in spades, with Jack's voice expressing tension,
adoration, and a subdued passion:

Even better, if you've got the time, is the band's live performance of the song, which includes not only Janis Joplin-esque vocals but also the dramatic guitar playing that made White a top-pick for the It Might Get Loud documentary:

Amongst the many gems I found on YouTube this weekend is this version of Wayfaring Stranger that he performed for Cold Mountain (both the novel and film are favorites of mine):

Another is Jack's tribute to the most awesome bluesman you've never heard of, Son House, whose Grinnin' In Your Face is apparently White's favorite song. Like Blue Veins, the guitar work in this jam takes the blues to a level guys like House could never have dreamed of:

And, of course, there's the crunchy, gut-shivering riff in Seven Nation Army that made the Stripes a household name:

For a musician of this sort to then turn around and cover a song like Conquest and make it cool is nothing short of genius:

So, now it's Monday afternoon and I've only got a handful of hours left to fully cement this new obsession (Edit: We were hit with another blizzard Tuesday and I spent another two days on YouTube. Obsession cemented).  While I'm off doing that, I'll leave you with a final treat, one that I find beautifully moving.  I hope you enjoy:

As Ugly As I Seem

Am as ugly as I seem
Worse than all your dreams
Could ever make me
Out to be
It makes me want to scream
When it's Halloween
And the kids are all laughing at me
The rogue
Is a bank
He's never broke
But worth as much as a joke
That no one is laughing at

You believe some things are not
Appealing as a spot
On the ceiling of my childhood bedroom
Count these dreams you can't imagine
But none of them match the vision
That you had decided for me
Want to take away from me
Things that are mine
And it's not your right
I bet that you wouldn't expect a fight
Can it be
That I don't
Want what you want
And the only thing I could care for
Is a place in a home that is safe and warm
Safe and warm,
safe and warm,
safe and warm

Yourself if you feel the need
Just let me alone to be
In search of the truth myself
Is a drop of blood on the ground
And it seems to me
That it's not my kind
And I can't be sure if it's yours or mine

Am as ugly as I seem
Worse than all your dreams
Could ever make me
Could ever make me
Could ever make me
Could ever make me