17/03/2011

Listen Cloze, Now: "I Can't Wait" by the White Stripes


"I can't wait til you try to come back girl,
when things they don't work out for you...
Who do you think you're messing with, girl?
What do you think you're trying to do?
Do you really think I want be laughed at, girl?
Who do you think you're trying to fool
?
...you certainly took your time..."

Melody tired. Structure predictable. Voice caterwauling. Lyrics recherché and chauvinist.
And yet!

Nirvana wrestle Blue Oyster Cult for "I Can't Wait"s heart throughout. There's a simple pun to the title lyrics - "I can't wait" (I want you, come on!) and "I can't wait" (That's it, I give up.) - an ambivalence that nothing will conclude, least of all Jack.

O course, all the White Stripes' songs are about love, but this includes love's aftershocks; the tension, resentment and sheer work involved can be heard in even, say, the sweetly canting Hotel Yorba. There's hidden derision under all his car seats and dark pews.

Ffs, where and when do these people live? In 40s Louisiana, in 60s Britain and in 90s Seattle at the same time, which adds up to... transatlantic traditionalism. They made blues-flavoured music; a drop of the essence of all kinds of things, and a referential guitar - an Eliotian bluesman! (See, "derivative" becomes "referential" just as soon as you give us a certain sort of wink.)

Complexity in art isn't valuable in itself; ornament is often utterly stupid. Meg caught some shit for her maximally primitive drum beats and occasional falter, but I double dare you to try and cover this and make the drums better.

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