Elephant – The White Stripes

Released April 1, 2003 it peaked at #6 in the US Billboard chart and #1 in the UK. Often cited at the band’s best work it was nominated for several Grammy’s including Album of the Year (it lost to OutKast) but won Best Alternative Music Album.

Jason: Let’s play a game. I am going to give you the three things I know about The White Stripes and you are going to answer and explain.

Brad: Uh…okay.

Jason: First question. True or False: Jack White is Loretta Lynn’s secret love child.

Brad: False but they did collaborate on an album together titled Van Lear Rose which won them both a Grammy.

Jason: Because of that collaboration there was a weird rumor that circulated for a brief time that they were related. Second question. Multiple Choice. Meg White and Jack White are:
A-Married
B-Divorced
C-Siblings
D-All of the above

Brad: Maybe A and B but not C.

Jason: They are mysterious about that. No one really knows. They have played up the sibling angle for a while but I think that is false.

Brad: Yeah, they definitely played to the sibling thing but it doesn’t seem to be true. They met while both were in high school together in Detroit.

Jason: Last one, and there is only one right answer, Jack doesn’t know how to pronounce the word “button”.

Brad: Ha. It doesn’t sound weird to me but Jack & I are both from Michigan. So maybe it is an accent?

Jason: No, you pronounce it correctly. Listen again. He says “The hardest buh-en to buh-en”. The whole time I’m thinking “It’s buTTon. Say the Ts!” I do like that song though. That video must have taken a year to film.

Brad: I know, right!? It’s pretty amazing.

Jason: It was even parodied on The Simpsons with Meg and Jack playing themselves. It put them on the map.

Brad: Maybe on your map but they were known prior to that. Their previous album White Blood Cells was their first big breakout.

Jason: True. I am a late-comer to knowing them, I suppose. Would you agree that this is their most notable album?

Brad: Yeah, it is probably their most popular. Especially because “Seven Nation Army” gets played by marching bands and chanted by sports fans all over the world.

Jason: What are your overall thoughts on Elephant?

Brad: I hadn’t gone back and listened to this one in several years and I forgot how much I like it. How about you?

Jason: I am not a fan of The White Stripes in general. Their style of music isn’t really my taste. I don’t hate it and there are some songs that I enjoy but overall I could take them or leave them. What do you like about them? You have seem them a few times before they disbanded and him since.

Brad: I’ve seen Jack White seven times but only twice with The White Stripes. I love their sound. It borrows from other genres and time periods but it is distinct. Much like our previous band, Arcade Fire, The White Stripes songs really come alive when played live. I also kinda like that Jack has a strange accent. He almost sounds southern or something.

Jason: Yes. I wonder if it’s an affectation or just how he talks. By the way, Jack claims that if you look at this album cover it is the head of an elephant with him and Meg as the ears. I don’t see it but…sure.

[Jack White in Q Magazine: “If you study the picture carefully, Meg and I are elephant ears in a head-on elephant. But it’s a side view of an elephant, too, with the tusks leading off either side. I wanted people to be staring at this album cover and then maybe two years later, having stared at it for the 500th time, to say, ‘Hey, it’s an elephant!’” ]

Brad: I don’t really see it. But I do love that they committed to a style and a color palette of Red, White & Black for everything visual they did while together.

Jason: I like that too. It makes their albums very recognizable. What is it about this album in particular that you like? 

Brad: I like that it has a lot of power but balances it with some quieter moments.

Jason: That last song drives me crazy. “Well It’s True That We Love One Another.” It’s so annoying.

Brad: I don’t mind it. It’s kind of corny but it doesn’t annoy me.

Jason: Well, they are doing different things, like with the squirrel girl song.

Brad: What grade would you give this? I say a B+

Jason: It’s a C for me. Their sound is really not for me. Kudos for trying new things and not staying in a cookie-cutter rock style but I would never sit and listen to this again.

Brad: Fair enough but it’s on my vinyl album wish list so you will probably hear it again.

Jason: I’ll have to go push the off buh-en.

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Below is the scratch-off artwork from the 100 Bucket List poster.

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