Michel Gondry worked with The White Stripes a good handful of times, directing videos for “The Denial Twist”, “The Hardest Button to Button”, “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”, and the iconic “Fell in Love with a Girl”. He’s now added a fifth video to his CV, and he did so without anyone asking.
Unprompted, Gondry took it upon himself to surprise Jack White and Third Man Records with visuals for the recently unearthed “City Lights”. Like the Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016 album from which the song comes, the clip is a one-take piece that’s beautiful in its bareness and simplicity. A camera is placed in front of the steamy door of a shower while the person inside draws a constantly evolving interpretation of the song’s lyrics in the fogged glass. Check it out above.
In more planned news, White was a guest on NPR’s All Songs Considered over the weekend, where he sat with Ray Suarez to discuss his new compilation album. White revealed that the original list of material for Acoustic Recordings ran over three hours long, and it wasn’t always meant to be acoustic. “Well, I wanted a record that would showcase songwriting throughout the years, and the acoustic angle was the best way to go about that, to get away from the ‘Jack White as an electric guitar player’ thing,” he explained. “Initially I thought this could be just all the studio recordings over the years. But then I started finding certain things … I thought: Well, why don’t we strip that back and take those elements out, and let people hear the way it started off?”
“It’s not a vibe of, ‘I’m going to re-record all these songs unplugged, on a stage in front of people,'” he added. “It’s just — I’ve never done a compilation before. It was an experiment for me, to see if I liked the idea. And as it was coming along, it did start to sound like its own album to me.”
White also discussed his collaboration with Beyoncé on the Lemonade track “Don’t Hurt Yourself”. “You know, I just talked to her and she said, ‘I wanna be in a band with you.’ I said, ‘Really? Well, I’d love to do something.’ I’ve always loved her voice — I mean, I think she has the kind of soul singing voice of the days of Betty Davis or Aretha Franklin. She took just sort of a sketch of a lyrical outline and turned into the most bodacious, vicious, incredible song. I don’t even know what you’d classify it as — soul, rock and roll, whatever. ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ is incredibly intense; I’m so amazed at what she did with it.”
You can read the rest of the interview transcript, which sees White discussing opening a vinyl pressing plant at Detroit’s Third Man Records and the toughness of his hometown, at NPR.