Editor’s note: This list was originally published in 2013, but with the release of the new Dead Weather record, we thought we would revisit one of our favorite lists and modern artists.
When Jack White releases something new, we are sure to break out all the bells and whistles to announce its arrival. Today, we update our best Jack White songs list with the new album and White’s last album in mind. While we certainly love a handful of songs on the new album (“High Ball Stepper”, “Temporary Ground”, “Entitlement”), the fact that we are still relatively new to these songs held them from back from making a stacked list.
So without further ado, the best of Jack White:
10. The Dead Weather- “I Cut Like a Buffalo”
Our one and only Dead Weather song, “I Cut Like a Buffalo” somehow manages to be completely menacing and totally groovy at the same time. Kind of psychedelic, dub metal and even some hip hop elements, making for the type of song only Jack White could concoct.
9. Jack White – “Trash Tongue Talker”
“Trash Tongue Talker” is our favorite solo Jack White song to this point, with the honky tonk energy and the rebellious spirit of the Stones.
8. The White Stripes- “A Martyr for My Love For You”
We saw Jack White debut this song with the Stripes on his 2006 tour at Bonnaroo, and it is perhaps his most mesmerizing song. It pulls some of the country elements from his Dolly Parton “Jolene” cover, but gives the song his own tongue-twisting treatment lyrically. “Martyr” touches on the bittersweet nature of love, something he hits on a ton on Blunderbuss and perfected lyrically on “Love Interruption”.
7. The Raconteurs- “Carolina Drama”
Our one and only Raconteurs song, which is collectively our least favorite Jack White project (though still good by industry standards), “Carolina Drama” stands out clearly as the best song in the Raconteur catalog. While the twists and turns in Jack White’s intricate storytelling may not be as encapsulating or as dense as R. Kelly’s legendary Trapped in the Closet series (which is returning), it is the next best thing.
6. The White Stripes- “The Nurse”
The first of two tracks off of our collectively favorite White Stripes album, Get Behind Me Satan, “The Nurse” also stands as one of the most experimental and avante garde tracks White did with the Stripes. Laying on a creaky bed of marimba and maracas crawls a piano trail amidst attacks by piercing guitar and crashing cymbals.
5. The White Stripes- “White Moon”
Probably the most subdued of all Stripes songs, “White Moon” is also potentially my favorite. I just picture Jack sitting alone in a room, coming up with phrases off the top of his head that only occasionally have meaning, but are always dripping with emotional sentiment. White’s knack for crafty wordplay and understanding of what it takes to write a great song make him a one-of-a-kind talent.
4. The White Stripes- “Death Letter”
In many ways I see Jack White as this generation’s Eric Clapton, and in many ways the White Stripes are the equivalent to Cream, his best known output and a refurbished version of the blues. “Death Letter” is a balls-to-the-wall cover of a Son House song, and if you ever catch the White Stripes live (which may never happen again), “Death Letter” is arguably the biggest show stopper.
3. The White Stripes- “Icky Thump”
Lead title tracks never get this good. For those foreign to the White Stripes, let “Icky Thump” serve as a perfect intro and swift kick to the short pants. You rarely hear guitar licks as thick and tasty as the one served up on “Icky Thump”.
2. The White Stripes- “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”
An absolutely iconic Stripes song, “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” leaves the lyrics to a minimum and lets Jack’s axe do the talking. “Dead Leaves” opens with an incredibly illustrative guitar riff, as the song continues strictly on the back of the Jack’s guitar play, which is heavy, yet melodic and measured.
1. The White Stripes- “Ball & Biscuit”
Seven minutes in heaven. “Ball & Biscuit” captures just about everything we love about Jack: the huge classic blues riff, crafty wordplay, bloody raw guitar solos, and an untouchable swagger.
Here are the three songs that were “Whited Out” off the list and just missed:
Todd: The Dead Weather- “Treat Me Like Your Mother”
Todd traded out his miss on this updated list trading out the White Stripes “Cannon” for the Dead Weather’s “Treat Me Like Your Mother”. There is an argument to be made that “Treat Me Like Your Mother” is the most head-banging go-nuts track of Jack White’s career, a camp Todd clearly falls under.
Wes: The White Stripes- “Hotel Yorba”
I had a hard time deciding between tracks in “Hotel Yorba” and the pure blues extravagance of “The Hardest Button to Button”, but I ended up settling on “Hotel Yorba”, for its scrappy, feel-good nature that plants itself in your brain.
Austin: The White Stripes- “300 mph Torrential Outpour Blues”
Another near make for our list, “300 mph” is just one more song where Jack White seemingly lulls you into a comfort zone before kicking things up to 11. Austin’s deep love for Icky Thump is shown with this choice.
So there is the list. Let us know what we unforgivably missed, or got right, but still feel free to just rip on us in general …