Women have long been up to no good in the eccentric world of Jack White’s songs. But on Blunderbuss, his solo album out this week, they finally indulge in White’s most famous bugaboo: cell phones. “Two black gadgets in her hand are all she thinks about,” White spits about a female antagonist on “Freedom at 21,” before getting Pat-Robertson-preachy: “No responsibility, no guilt or morals cloud her judgment.”
There are other strange transgressions by women against men on Blunderbuss. During the opener “Missing Pieces,” a girl figuratively amputates White’s limbs. Later, on “Sixteen Saltines,” he cowers before a woman whose “spike heels make a hole in a lifeboat.”
White as a lyricist has been obsessed with women for more than a decade now, perhaps to a greater extent than any other rock star in his generation. Certainly, he’s got more girl problems than any of his blues-rock contemporaries. Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys will call women “psychotic” and lament exes, but it rarely gets personal the way it does with White. Spoon’s Britt Daniel waxes flirtier and artsier. In fact, with his nasty barbs and self-pitying complaints, White’s lyrics almost have more resemblance to early-2000s emo bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco.
But Blunderbuss, more than anything that’s come before it, crystalizes White’s longstanding issues with women. Maybe that’s because it’s his first-ever solo record, and maybe that’s because it comes on the heels of his second divorce, from model Karen Elson. Either way, what it reveals is fascinating—though not pretty.
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We’re reading a ton of interesting responses to this essay — so many, in fact, that we’re going to pick one and ask Jessica Misener to respond to it. So, let us know: Do you think Jack White has a problem with women?