The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.
Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.
D is for Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground, released by The White Stripes as a single in August 2002.
The White Stripes open their third album, the stellar White Blood Cells, with the grimy rocker “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground.” The dynamic duo’s lead singer/guitarist kicks off the record with a savage, downward spiral riff, accompanied by drummer Meg White‘s pounding, mid-tempo stomp. The pair waste no time in displaying a keen understanding of musical dynamics, promptly reining in the assault for Jack White‘s slightly warbling vocal as he offers his own unique vision of loneliness and devotion with quivering sneer, “Dead leaves and the dirty ground/When I know you’re not around/Shiny tops and soda pops/When I hear your lips make a sound/Thirty notes in the mailbox/Will tell you that I’m coming home/And I think I’m gonna stick around for a while so you’re not alone.”
The music then dramatically launches into exploding interludes of smashing chords and brutally stomping rhythms that would make AC/DC proud. Jack White also has a knack for showing a softer side amongst all the bashing as he observes with poetic sweetness in a later verse, “Soft hair and a velvet tongue/I want to give you what you give to me/And every breath that is in your lungs is a tiny little gift to me.” This self-produced album’s improved sound quality, compared to the group’s past efforts, also makes a striking first impression, bringing out the song’s brilliant use of dynamics and increasing the textures of the band’s simple instrumentation without limiting clarity or sacrificing power.
mp3: The White Stripes – Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground
mp3: The White Stripes – Suzy Lee (live at the BBC Studios Maida Vale)
mp3: The White Stripes – Stop Breaking Down (live at the BBC Studios Maida Vale)
The BBC recordings are of two tracks, originally recorded for the duo’s self-titled debut album, released in 1999. Suzy Lee is an original, while Stop Breaking Down is a cover of a Robert Johnson song, written back in 1937.
Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground reached #25 in the UK singles chart. This was fairly similar to the previous two singles, Hotel Yorba (#26) and Fell In Love With A Girl (#21). It would take until the following year for the bigger commercial breakthrough, when Seven Nation Army went Top 10 .