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Opinion

Tribute to The White Stripes in light of their recent break up

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February 17, 2011

Looking back on the last 15 years of rock ‘n’ roll in today’s modern music industry, it is surprisingly difficult to find many true standout bands and musicians. With a music industry heavily dominated by rap and hip hop, it seems that rock ‘n’roll had been left in the background and nearly dismissed as what seemed to be part of music’s past.

Yet, a glimmer of hope existed with The White Stripes when they came out of the heart of the midwest (Detroit) and began their ravenous tenure on the ‘depleted’ music industry.

In my mind, for the music industry to continue to grow, it needs to build in order upon what it has done well, and not simply stray away from it or leave it behind as part of its tumultuous past (rock, blues, folk music). Don’t get me wrong, rap and hip hop are great musical genres but by no means are they as whole-hearted, rich and pure as rock ‘n’ roll. Rock ‘n’roll resonates with just about everyone and without it, today’s music would undoubtedly differ quite greatly.

The White Stripes offered a glimpse back into the roots of the music industry, playing music lively and powerful enough to jump start anyone’s interest in rock ‘n’roll. This task is amazingly difficult now and no easy feat! Boy bands, American Idol stars, and rap/hip hop musicians have made their way through the music industry successfully and skewed the perspective of popular music. As mentioned before, exceptions certainly do exist where there will be standout groups/musicians in the “fad” genres when it comes down to the nitty gritty of things, how many of these boy bands, American idol stars, and even rappers will be remembered for their musical talents and accomplishments 25 years down the line? The truth of the matter is, very, very few. I am not trying to say that these musicians are talentless, I am simply saying, generally speaking, the precedents that they set for future musicians are not very high.

It is frustrating that our generation’s music has been dominated by these “fad” genres of ubiquitous bands, all predominately blending together, with standout musicians/bands going the way of the polar bear, and becoming extremely difficult to find.

The White Stripes were the much needed needle in the haystack; they had gobs of talent, a interesting story behind their uprising and focused on the fundamentals of rock n’ roll in playing pure kick ass songs with epic guitar solos. One guitar, one drummer; a simple enough idea. And here, 14 years later, an impression left upon the music industry not soon to be forgotten. Album after album, the White Stripes seemed to pick up steam and found themselves quickly becoming the most talked about homegrown rock band our generation has known. Stardom and fame, quickly followed suit with the Detroit duo as it seemed these two were unstoppable. Or so we thought.

No doubt, touring has to take a toll on any musician but for Meg White (the drummer) it seemed to eventually become too much, and in the heart of the White Stripes US tour celebrating the album “Get Behind Me Satan” they canceled the remainder of the tour, citing Meg White’s health as major concern if the tour continued. Shortly after this happened, Jack White (the guitarist/vocalist) went on to join together with another group of musicians forming a fantastic band called “The Raconteurs.”

Finally, a crack in the White Stripes once impermeable armor arose. As Meg White rested and got better, Jack White went on to tour and further enshrined himself as a rock ‘n’ roll God for our generation.

Despite this hiccup for the White Stripes, not terribly long afterwards, Jack and Meg White were back at work in the studio, and out came the album “Icky Thump”. Winning a Grammy for the best alternative music album, “Icky Thump” was another massive triumph for the White Stripes.

Regardless of the critical acclaim, the White Stripes remained absent from touring within the U.S., an absence still felt to this day. Moreover, in 2010, a live album “Under the Northern Lights” was released by the duo, offering a glimpse at their most recent tour in Canada. For US White Stripes fans, this was as close to the real thing you could get.

Sure enough on Feb. 2, 2011, the White Stripes posted a letter on their website, stating “their band has officially ended.” This marked the end of an era. The best U.S. rock ‘n’ roll band of our generation is over. They came and changed the music industry by revitalizing modern rock. They offered a faint light of hope for pure rock ‘n’ roll fans like myself and inspired modern musicians to strive to become legends. They are The White Stripes. They are rock.

Ryen Kleiser is a laid back biology student at UW-River Falls. He is hoping to become a well-known marine biologist and teacher.