How Jack White Is Keeping Rock Alive & Inspiring Worldwide

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Because he sees his passions through.

Last Friday, a visibly emotional Jack White, held back tears as he delivered a heartfelt, solo acoustic medley of White Stripes songs, “Love Is the Truth” and “You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Just as Fallon hopped on stage at the conclusion and called the performance beautiful, you see White subtly wipe his eyes.

Jack White is a visionary. A trailblazer who along the way, delivers his art in the purest of forms. He not only speaks from the heart, but demonstrates it too.

On September 9th, White released Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016. This 26 track record contains intimate acoustic renditions of various White Stripes, The Raconteurs and White solo songs. Though the past 18 years have been full of original music, there’s many other elements within the wide world of White that bring me to my original point – suggesting he is one of today’s most inspiring artists.

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photo by Jo McCoughey

Musicianship:
We’ve seen White as part of a powerhouse duo with the White Stripes, fronting the Raconteurs, as the drummer of the Dead Weather and as an acclaimed solo artist. As if that was not enough, he’s also helped produce over thirty records, appeared in thirteen films and contributed to numerous soundtracks. Through it all, we see a beautiful clash of rock, pop, punk, blues, country and folk music. Yet, each piece contains White’s original style. You see and hear his love for vintage instruments that give him the ability to honor the history of music while at the same time, forming his signature crunch. He’s a student of the game and a player-coach.

If you flip through the records filed under White’s name, you will find a common theme of love. Whether it’s by telling a story or sharing his own experiences, White lets his music do the talking when it comes to sharing his feelings. You appreciate his honesty, courage and companionship.

In showcasing appreciation for the past, White is encouraging the future.

Revitalizing Records:
With numerous releases under his label, Third Man Records, White opened his first record store under the same name in March of 2009, in Nashville. A second store was opened in Detroit in 2015. The Nashville location is organized around five dedicated sections: the record store, a “novelties lounge,” the label’s offices and distribution center, its recording studios, and its photo studio. Each of White’s solo records and the Dead Weather records were recorded at the Third Man studio. The most unique element to the Third Man Records novelties lounge is the 1947 Voice-O-Graph recording booth. For $20 you can record your own song right there. It’s a first come, first serve setup where you are able to record on the spot, a two and half minute song. Artists such as Neil Young and Eddie Vedder have recorded in the booth. Upon conclusion you immediately receive a six inch 33 record to take home. A similar recording setup is now in place in their Detroit store as well.

Between its exclusive releases on vinyl, a venue for live performances and stores offering an experience unlike any other, White’s Third Man ventures are providing musicians and fans alike with an opportunity to delve into a fascinating world, all while preserving the classic nature of records.

Activism:
On stage and off, White continues to make a difference. This past July, White joined Nashville Mayor, Megan Barry, in launching the Nashville Council on Gender Equity. In this, Mayor Barry issued an executive order to create a new panel that will study gender inequity in Nashville. The committee is then tasked to report their findings back to the mayor along with recommended solutions to act upon. White is part of an advisory group tasked with providing what the mayor’s office calls “data-informed recommendations and advice” to address fundamental differences in benefits and opportunities that are partial to only one gender. The policies White has implemented for his employees at Third Man Records are those of equality and opportunity. His structure will now be used as a model for other small businesses.

At the press conference announcing the council, White detailed how all fathers of newborn children at Third Man Records can expect three months of paid leave, all employees receive a minimum wage of at 15 dollars an hour regardless of gender and in conclusion, White closes his speech stressing how gender and sexuality should not affect their wages, benefits or how they are treated by other human beings.

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photo via Joey Garrison / The Tennessean

Commitment To His Passions:
In addition to his dedication to music and the arts, White is also an avid baseball fan. Perhaps fan is not a strong enough word as that would lead you to believe he may just sit and watch his favorite team with the occasional backyard catch. White is more of an enthusiast who has steered his baseball passion towards areas of opportunity. This past April, White announced he has partnered and invested in Warstic baseball bats along with Detroit Tigers second baseman, Ian Kinsler. “Warstic is incredibly inspiring to me,” White said in his official press release, “and I think we can make beautiful objects for not only professionals, but also young children just beginning to understand how important the tools of the trade are to their passion for competition.”

Warstic was started in 2011 by former minor leaguer, Ben Jenkins. They offer American Ash, Maple, and Birch wood and metal bats, each uniquely emblazoned with the trademark Warstripe emblem branded into every bat.

“I discovered the Warstic company through my love of design,” said White. “I was drawn to what Ben Jenkins was doing at Warstic by the simplicity and harshness of the designs. Most baseball bats and equipment in the sports world do not impress me much, but I think that there is a lot of room to explore aesthetic ideas in just baseball alone that can bring beauty and purpose to the weapons that athletes use to accomplish their goals. This can be accomplished not only through form following function, but also to bring in outsider ideas into the zone of athletics steeped in history and sometimes bogged down by its own weight.”

It should also be noted that in 2009, he helped refurbish Detroit’s Clark Park.

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An acoustic collection of songs showcase the raw emotion and vulnerability of the art at its core. It brings you into the artist’s personal mindset to when they were writing the song – what their emotions were, what they were feeling and how they were affected. Throughout the six minute performance on Fallon, White exuded the power of all of this coming together. Somehow, you feel the mixture of each of the four qualities mentioned here and you see why this artist has it in him to have such a profound impact. It’s a truly inspiring performance where you are reminded how living with passion can be contagious, courageous and moving; not only to yourself, but to those around you.

The first song of the medley performed was “Love is the Truth.” Well, so is Jack White.

“One thing you’ll learn you can bet, is that love is as good as it gets. And you’ll get more if you give it.”
“It’s everywhere, you just have to care.” – Jack White, “love is the truth”

Jack White: “Love Is the Truth”/”You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket” Medley

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