Why We Act Like Jack White Is So Important

(originally published June 2, 2011)

Don’t get me wrong. I like Jack White, and I liked The White Stripes. I also know there is plenty of good rock music out there if I look far beneath the surface.

Remember in 1990 when rock and roll was in such a dire and abysmal state that you thought the Black Crows and Lenny Kravitz were going to save rock and roll and point the new direction by sounding old? Then in the ass end of 1991 a band called Nirvana began its climb up the charts? I don’t need to recount what happened in the years that followed, but just imagine this:

Imagine Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumkins, Pavement, and Beck never existed. They just flat out never happened. No “Teen Spirit,” no “Black,” no “Paranoid Android.” None of it.

Then at decade’s end, the writers and critics who prophesize with their pens would do their decade’s end polls, and come to the conclusion that the Black Crows and Lenny Kravitz were the most important artists of the decade. I don’t know how, but critics would find a way to make them more significant than they really are. Again, don’t get me wrong…I love the Crows, and even Lenny first appeared to be pretty hip before he started overusing the word “love” by his third album. But critics and fans alike would somehow look for ways to make that happen.

Over the course of the last ten years, we’ve not only had no Nirvanas, but rock fell completely off the mainstream map, which is why bands like The Strokes and the White Stripes were magnified to feed the hungry just because they got a little mainstream recognition. In other words, if the 90s didn’t unfold as they did and we had to substitute Nirvana with Lenny Kravitz God forbid, we would have had what we have now. One sorry ass state of rock and roll. And so nothing happened. Nothing was delivered, and we filled that void with Jack White.

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