You Can Thank RZA for the Jack White Solo Album

The New York Times took a trip down to Nashville to profile Jack White (his solo album, Blunderbuss, is out this month) and, in the process, revealed all manner of delightful J.W. factoids. Most of this stuff — his perfectionism, his Protestant work ethic, his slavish devotion to old shit — you likely already knew. But a peek into his day-to-day- life, which currently involves a coterie of nutso projects tied around his all-purpose Third Man Records (there’s “a record store, his label offices, a concert venue, a recording booth, a lounge for parties and even a darkroom”), points exactly at his level of commitment to the Jack White Persona.

This bit is pretty crucial:

Roaming the hallways were several young employees, all color-coordinated, like comic-book henchmen. The boys wore black ties and yellow shirts; the girls wore black tights and yellow Anna Sui dresses. (There were also a statistically improbable number of redheads.) White stopped in front of one cute girl in bluejeans and Vans. “Can you guess which Third Man employee is getting fined $50 today?” he asked, smiling.

As is this bit. It spun off a conversation about Jack’s divorce, and it reveals his commendably progressive sexual mores:

“I’ve always felt it’s ridiculous to say, of any of the females in my life: You’re my friend, you’re my wife, you’re my girlfriend, you’re my co-worker,” he said. “This is your box, and you’re not allowed to stray outside of it.” I told him it sounded as if monogamy might not be for him, and he laughed. “You think?” he said. “I gave that up a long time ago. Those rules don’t apply anymore.” [Ed. note: ladies!]

We even get some details about the White Stripes’ breakup. It still sounds, as it sounded when first reported, that the split was amicable and uneventful. But Jack also insists that, ultimately, it was Meg White’s call and that, if it were his decision alone, he’d still be in the White Stripes right now. Are you convinced?

“Some people can live their whole lives in limbo … I’d rather cut the lifeline so we can move on with our lives. There came a point where I said, ‘If we’re not doing this, we need to put an end to it right now.’ And that’s what [Meg] wanted to do.” …

White said if it were up to him, the band would still be together. “I’d make a White Stripes record right now. I’d be in the White Stripes for the rest of my life. That band is the most challenging, important, fulfilling thing ever to happen to me. I wish it was still here. It’s something I really, really miss.”

And one last crucial detail. That Jack White has recorded a solo album at all? Yeah, you can put that one on the Abbot:

At the end of January — almost a year to the day after the White Stripes’ breakup — White announced he was putting out a solo record. He’d been avoiding doing one, mainly because it was what everyone expected. But when the rapper RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan failed to show up for a session at his house last summer, White decided he might as well work on some of his own songs. The album, “Blunderbuss,” grew from there.

Before you head over to read the entire profile, let’s go out on Jack’s brand new video, “Sixteen Saltines.” It knocks pretty hard.

Filed Under: Jack White, Music, RZA

Amos Barshad has written for New York Magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ AmosBarshad