The 30 Best Jack White Quotes

Jack White is a living legend.

Videos by American Songwriter

His guitar sings, shrieks, and rocks.

The 46-year-old Detroit-born musician rose to fame with his two-piece band The White Stripes with his ex-wife turned friend Meg White. Prior, he’d been a furniture upholsterer.

With standout songs like “Seven Nation Army” and “Hotel Yorba,” the band has been part of popular music culture for decades. And since the band broke up, White has released solo albums and records with groups like The Raconteurs.

But outside of his lyrics and his music, what does White, who also owns and operates Third Man Records, have to say about stardom, his craft, furniture, love, and life itself? That’s what we’ll dive into here today, dear reader.

So, without further ado, here are the best 30 Jack White quotes.

1. “Vinyl is the real deal. I’ve always felt like, until you buy the vinyl record, you don’t really own the album. And it’s not just me or a little pet thing or some kind of retro romantic thing from the past. It is still alive.”

2. “I want to be part of the resurgence of things that are tangible, beautiful, and soulful, rather than just give in to the digital age. But when I talk to people about this they just say, ‘Yeah, I know what you mean,’ and stare at their mobiles.”

3. “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. This is your box, and you’re not allowed to stray outside of it.”

4. “I really don’t like to take the easy way out, if I can help it, on anything I do, I like to really make it a challenge. I don’t know how to create by taking the easy routes. I’ve tried, you know, I’ve tried to let myself, but I always struggle to compensate.”

5. “Playing drums feels like coming home for me. Even during the White Stripes, I thought: ‘I’ll do this for now, but I’m really a drummer.’ That’s what I’ll put on my passport application.”

6. “Well, as a songwriter, it’s really dangerous to use the word love in a song. It’s a word that has been used in songs so many millions of times before, and it’s the most popular topic to ever write about.”

7. “With the White Stripes we were trying to trick people into not realizing we were playing the blues. We did not want to come off like white kids trying to play black music from 100 years ago so a great way to distract them was by dressing in red, white, and black.”

8. “I dabbled in things like Howlin’ Wolf, Cream, and Led Zeppelin, but when I heard Son House and Robert Johnson, it blew my mind. It was something I’d been missing my whole life. That music made me discard everything else and just get down to the soul and honesty of the blues.”

9. “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.”

10. “I didn’t really even think of recording under my own name for a long time. I thought, ‘I’ve got the rest of my life to do that.'”

11. “I grew up in the ’90s in the time of grunge when if you didn’t go on stage in jeans and a T-shirt you weren’t ‘real.’ That seemed ridiculous to me.”

12. “I have so much music inside me I’m just trying to stay afloat. I don’t tend to write for a particular band—you have to just write the songs and then let God into the room and let the music tell you what to do.”

13. “I just think old old movies, they make you concentrate and pay attention so much more. They feel so warm. A lot of modern digital videotape, it’s just too bright. Don’t know why, it’s not warm.”

14. “When you put something out there into the world, there [are] all these words you don’t want to hear, that you hope people don’t say. I don’t like anything that starts with ‘re’—like retro, reinvent, recreate— I hate that. It’s always like living in the past—copying, emulating.”

15. “People aren’t buying records like they used to, so it’s nice to try to figure out a way to make them do it. I would enjoy the same thing to own an old movie house, to try to trick people to come in—like having 3-D or Smell-o-Vision or Vibra-Vision or something. MacGuffins to get people interested.”

16. “I consider music to be storytelling, melody, and rhythm. A lot of hip-hop has broken music down. There are no instruments and no songwriting. So you’re left with just storytelling and rhythm. And the storytelling can be so braggadocious, you’re just left with rhythm.”

17. “I won’t join another band again.”

18. “This generation is so dead. You ask a kid, ‘What are you doing this Saturday?’ and they’ll be playing video games or watching cable, instead of building model cars or airplanes or doing something creative. Kids today never say, ‘Man, I’m really into remote-controlled steamboats.'”

19. “It is a myth that art has to be sold. It is not like stocking a grocery store where people fill a pushcart. Art is a product that has no apparent need. The salesperson builds the need in the mind of the buyer.”

20. “I would never purposely sing a song about someone I love, I wouldn’t want to embarrass them. But for someone I don’t like… I would definitely do that.”

21. “Nowadays, everybody assumes, when they wake up in the morning, if they have a question, it will get answered. Because they have the internet. No matter what the question is, someone will answer their question.”

22. “There aren’t that many things left that haven’t already been done, especially with music. I’m interested in ideas that can shake us all up.”

23. “I think the sensitivity that you need to create certain things sometimes would spill over into things that shouldn’t have bothered me.”

24. “I think it takes a lot of trickery to keep up with the media and its perception of you. I don’t know if I have it in me most of the time to care. The music is made first, and the interviews or photos to keep it alive come later as a necessary evil, I suppose.”

25. “For new bands, I think a major label is the safest place to be. Independent labels are the ones getting away with murder. A lot of them are hobbyists who rip-off young bands, taking advantage of people who would never get signed to a major.”

26. “The fact that we elected Obama was a sign that the black struggle inherent in the blues and so much of the music I have loved can triumph.”

27. “A lot of people in the media, and some everyday people, really aren’t in search of the truth. They’re in search of something worse than that. Money, yeah. I think the media’s the kind of a thing where the truth doesn’t win, because it’s no fun. The truth’s no fun.”

28. “If you have twenty guys in the room and you just bring in one girl, you change the entire mood and everyone plays different.”

29. “I wanted to be able to talk with people who have trade jobs and make records with them. I want to do more records with carpenters, electricians, people who specialize in even more bizarre trades that are off the beaten path.”

30. “I was in a Montessori school. There was a drum circle with all the kids passing around a little bongo drum. I was the last person in the circle, and when it got to me I played ‘Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits’—in front of all the parents. Blew the crowd away at five years old.”

Photo Credit: Paige Sara

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