Musical Collaborations, How Do They Work? Is Jack White losing his Seven Nation Army?

Originally Published In The Daily Free Press on 9/7/2011

What do you get when you combine one of the most respected musicians of the 21st century with one of the most ridiculed? How about when you throw in Austria’s proudest export and a rising indie band?

Well, that’s exactly what happened when Jack White, fresh off a gig producing a single with Stephen Colbert, teamed up with Insane Clown Posse and JEFF the Brotherhood for a take on Mozart’s lesser-known party number, “Leck Mich Im Arsch” (literally translated to “Lick Me in the Arse”).

That’s right, Jack White. Garage rock revivalist turned music legend, founder of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, named the 17th greatest guitarist by “Rolling Stone,” winner of nine Grammys, writer of a James Bond opening song and taxidermy aficionado. Congresswoman Donna Edwards even tried to bring peace to the House floor by quoting Mr. White’s lyrics.

That very same Jack White is working hand-in-hand with Insane Clown Posse, the clown rap duo of Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J, renowned for their comically awful catalogue, throwing cheap soda over their adoring and brilliant lyrics such as “Water, fire, air, and dirt. F**king magnets, how do they work?” Any mention of the group usually incites vicious comments from an army of faceless Internet users.

You can imagine the ire that arose in the wake of Jack White producing and pressing the song on his very own Third Man Records. In an interview with “Billboard,” Insane Clown Posse says, “[White] told us that nobody got the kind of reaction he got from his friends in the industry when he told them he was going to do a song with us…that’s what got him excited.” Jack White knows he can collaborate with anybody in the music industry – hell, even Muammar Gaddafi would come out of hiding if White came calling.

A quick trip to Third Man Records’ Facebook page reveals hundreds of fans mourning the loss of their White Stripes vinyl collection after tearfully disposing of it in a backyard grave, tears streaming down their cheek. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating, but the response is not kind. This constant bickering is as frivolous as getting upset over the men your girlfriend has dated before you. What is done is done, so get over the past and simply focus on the brilliant music that is still to come from the 36-year-old Jack White.

Does Jack White deserve the overblown criticism and vilification for simply releasing one limited pressing? Does this collaboration nullify all White has done to date? No. It is asinine to think otherwise. Jack White is simply having fun watching this whole thing explode. If people are still listening to the Phil Spector-produced “Let It Be” and if we can still listen to Mozart after he writes a song about getting his butt licked, then we can still cherish Mr. White.

Regardless of what anyone says, I am going back to listening to my collection of White Stripes rarities and B-sides wondering why “Cash Grab Complications on the Matter” didn’t see a wider release.

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