Daily Dose: Jack White, “All Along the Way”

I love Jack White. It is a deep, abiding love that has weathered the test of time–from the White Stripes to his solo career, the Dead Weather and Bond, and his brief foray into film (and Rene Zellweger). I’m here for it!

While researching Disney artist Eyvind Earle for an exhibition I helped curate at The Walt Disney Family Museum in 2017, I “met” his father, Ferdinand Earle, who was an eccentric scoundrel. Whenever he cheated on his wife with a new paramour, he claimed the urges were beyond his control: the result of divine “affinities” he had to heed. My feminist impulse is to dismiss his understanding of “affinities” as a weak man’s excuse to leave a woman behind, but I do think there’s something to this.

Jack White and I have similar affinities beyond the quintessentially American music he makes. Detroit. Baseball. Historic preservation. Buying vintage things you don’t need. Interior decorating. I am drawn to this man. As I age with artists who are aging with me, it’s wonderful to see music makers like White move past the thrashing chaos that is all of our 20s and find a comfortable place of pure purpose. I appreciate that he seems to only become more himself, which is a hard thing to do in this world and not everyone gets to do it. And his latest album, Entering Heaven Alive, speaks to this evolution as an artist.

He’s created an album that feels a little like Pop Pop sitting by the fire, imparting his wisdom and gratitude to the family that surrounds him in the house he built. It’s true to his catalog but not a repetitive rehashing of where he’s been before, and it’s exactly what we all want from Jack White. Maybe, for some artists, evolution is more like an infinity loop wherein all your affinities intertwine and create something so unique it feels like it’s existed forever. Like an acorn that falls from a tree, roots in the ground, and then grows until it’s surrounded by Oakly kin.

We’re all drawn to people for one reason or another. Most of the time, we have to responsibly ignore these affinities. But music is a safe space and I am (platonically) in love with Jack White and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Daily Dose: Punch Brothers, “Pride of Man”

Studying history, I’m constantly amazed how the hubris of humankind brings our species to its knees time and time again. Even if it also makes sense when you think about how often we as individuals muck things up. But people pick themselves out of the dust and drag it, our species, forward: after war, after famine, after depressions recessions and other races we do not win.

I’m not sure sure about this round, though. Ukraine. One/Six Committee. Supreme Court. Inflation. Homelessness. Inevitably, someone in my circle will reference the Fall of Rome in discussions of current events like these. Historians always gotta History and this is our version of someone yelling “Mooooo” in a crowd exiting a concert.

But maybe this is how it felt in 1942 when the world was at war and everything was rationed and nothing made sense. I used to think it was some sort of inherent ability to hope for better that allowed folks to keep calm and carry on, an internal compass that believed things had to improve. But now I think it might just be resignation and an ability to adapt. Today is worse than yesterday but I’m still alive and standing firm on my plot of metaphorical land. And I guess that’s the American way, to defend your property against all odds.

Daily Dose: Andrew Bird, “Underlands” + “Lone Didion”

Although no album will top “My Finest Work Yet” (fittingly) for me, the latest release from Andrew Bird is a welcome accompaniment to modern times. I like it more every time I listen to it. I like it so much I couldn’t pick just one song. Here are my top two tracks from Inside Problems, which also happen to be tracks one and two from the album.