Jack White is the focus of an extensive story from The New Yorker, with the magazine touching on everything from his early White Stripes days to his upholstery hobby to his historic Icarus Craft mission which saw him successfully play the first vinyl record in space. Also included in the feature, niftily slipped in toward the very end of the lengthy piece, is — surprise! — a tidbit about White working on new music.
According to New Yorker writer Alec Wilkinson, White has been hidden away in a Nashville apartment, where he records on “a reel-to-reel tape recorder that he bought when he was fourteen with money he made mowing lawns.” The two-bedroom space, with its shades all drawn down, has a fantastical confining aspect to it which White has specifically sought. “If I could just break my leg and be in the hospital for six weeks, what would it be like?” White told Wilkinson. “Something about a room and a cot and a little space. You have nothing to do.”
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“I’m going to try to write songs where I can’t be heard by the next-door neighbor,” White added. “And I want to write like Michael Jackson would write — instead of writing parts on the instruments or humming melodies, you think of them. To do everything in my head and to do it in silence and use only one room.” White will reportedly spend “several hours a day” crafting in this space.
White’s last release was 2016’s Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016. His last album of solo original material was 2014’s Lazaretto.
Elsewhere in the New Yorker feature are delightful anecdotes from White’s past and present life, including ones about his customized bowling balls, his dreams of one day directing a film, his siblings, and his most prized (and random) possessions. Read on below for those excerpts; head here for the full article.
On the bowling alley on his home property, which has some very special bowling balls:
In another [building], he has a three-lane bowling alley, where he keeps racks of balls for friends. Each dedicated ball has a name tag, and some of the balls are painted fancifully — Bob Dylan’s has a portrait of John Wayne.
On his film director aspirations:
He reads scripts in the hope of directing a movie — he said he was disappointed at losing the opportunity to direct one about a Detroit drug dealer and F.B.I. informant called White Boy Rick.
On his random and very expensive possessions:
He owns Leadbelly’s New York City arrest record, James Brown’s Georgia driver’s license from the nineteen-eighties, and Elvis Presley’s first record, a demo that he made in 1953, when he was eighteen
He collects old photo booths and recording booths, and he has a number of pieces of taxidermy, including two hyenas, two gazelles, a kudu, an elk, an elephant head, and a zebra head, as well as a young giraffe that he keeps in his office in Nashville.
The rarest and most valuable thing White owns is an issue of Action Comics No. 1, from June, 1938, which includes the first appearance of Superman, an occasion that White regards as “an important moment in literary history.”
On his childhood personality and how he almost became a priest:
I asked one of his brothers, Stephen Gillis, what White was like as a child. “Very energetic, always doing something,” Gillis said. “He still has the same personality. His brothers and sisters would take him to the movies, and when his musician brothers needed a drummer they said, ‘Keep a beat for us.’ Our father did building maintenance. He also did radio-and-TV repair, and that merged into hi-fi systems. He had reel-to-reel tape recorders, and we always had music.” White was an altar boy, and during high school he was accepted at a seminary in Wisconsin. “I was thinking I might become a priest,” he said. “At the last moment, I learned I couldn’t bring my guitar.”