Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Team Meg: Noel Murray Is Right About The White Stripes

Posted By on Wed, Feb 16, 2011 at 9:42 AM

Noel Murray says so many right things in his new column "Why Meg White matters," and you should go read it. Here's the link again. Like Mr. Murray, I watched my Twitter and Facebook feeds reflect a divided America in the wake of The White Stripes' breakup. People seemed heartbroken. Or they joked about a press release that must have been lost in 2007, or mentioned the fact that Jack White plays/can play/will play in other bands, so victory to him, et cetera. But as Murray points out:

The real question here is: What does Jack White miss by not having his “sister” Meg on drums? Even people who like The White Stripes often treat Meg’s primitive drumming, murmuring voice, and alien stage presence as a running joke. Mightn’t a musical separation from Meg be liberating for Jack?

Well, maybe. I can’t deny that I’m looking forward to hearing whatever Jack White does next, especially since in my opinion, the last White Stripes album, 2007’s Icky Thump, was the band’s best. But just because Jack was the primary creative force in The White Stripes doesn’t mean Meg was inessential.

Then Murray quotes Jack himself from a 2007 interview: "There’s an overall structure of simplicity, and it revolves around Meg’s drumming style. And it can’t be beat. We can’t do those structures in The Raconteurs. We couldn’t do them if we wanted to, and that’s the beauty of Meg." Limitations, after all, are what makes art — a melody is defined as much by which notes you don't play as by the ones you do. Listen, the first time I saw The White Stripes, at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle (RIP), I noticed Meg White was not exactly Neil Peart behind the kit, just as I had noticed that while listening to the records. I also noticed it was one of the most electrifying shows I had ever seen, or have seen since. Saying Meg White is not a good drummer is like saying Jackson Pollock was not good at painting still-lifes of fruit. Anyway, go read Murray's essay — the Tarantino/Menke analogy is particularly astute.

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