There was a big interview with Jack White in Sunday's Observer, which found a man struggling to balance the weight of his self-created mythos:
A lazaretto is a medical quarantine, traditionally occupied by contagious sea dogs returned from voyage. White is so busy these days that the idea of such a place has become almost exotic: "I fantasise about living in one-room apartments and being in a work camp somewhere, where there's absolutely nothing around me but a cot and a teapot and a sink."Of course, it's not all as bad as that.
Lazaretto is dedicated to three feminist pioneers: Florence Green from Norfolk, the last surviving veteran of the first world war until her death in 2012 [actually, Tim Lewis, her death didn't stop her being the last surviving veteran]; the American anarchist and writer Voltairine de Cleyre; and "Amazing" Grace Hopper, a computer scientist and rear admiral in the US navy.That actually sounds quite interesting. So, has this album been informed by those women's experiences?
White admits that he barely knows more than a paragraph's biography of each of them, but he jotted their names down at various points in the recording process. He says: "So, just another way to provoke thought, I guess."If he'd picked up a different page of his notebook, the album might have been dedicated to 'set PVR for Game Of Thrones' or 'potatoes/washing up liquid/half pound of bananas'.
Maybe not the PVR, though:
White is doing his own bit to turn back the clock: at his gigs, he enforces a strict ban on the audience shooting pictures or video; at home, he only allows his children – Scarlett, eight, and Hank, six – to play with mechanical toys. "There's romance and beauty in that in a real physical way," he says, "and that's more important for them than to just quickly cop to video games and iPads."Mechanical toys? Mechanical toys? Isn't clockwork a little too fast-pace-of-modern-life for you, Jack? What's wrong with a chunk of wood and a whittling stick?
I feel for his kids. Going to his house must be like when I had to visit a great aunt who only had powdered milk and one chair.
There's one bit, though, where I think the real Jack White peeps through:
"I'm incredibly complicated, incredibly full of energy, incredibly busy and I never stop thinking, I never stop creating. Sitting next to me in a room or laying next to me in a bed, it could be a lot of work. To be friends with me, have breakfast with me, have coffee, is a lot of work, too. It's like you're going to lunch with Larry David, Alan Partridge and Chris Rock all in one person – maybe with a little bit of Woody Allen mixed in there. And some people might not think it's funny!"Basically, White is a chilled-out entertainer entertainer. I'll bet he does funny voices, too.
But, oh, what work to keep up with a man who channels so many sharp wits! No wonder poor Meg got so tired out.