When is an apology not an apology? When it comes from Jack White. As you may have seen earlier today, the former White Stripes front man seemingly went after Lady Gaga in a story in the UK edition of Esquire. In a excerpt from the piece, he said of Momma Monster: “I don’t think she lives it because it’s all artifice...It’s all image with no meaning behind it. You can’t sink your teeth into it. It’s a sound bite. It’s very of this age because that’s what people want.”
Shortly thereafter, he walked back a little and clarified his comments via a statement, but in our mind, he only made it worse.
He doesn’t go after Esquire; he goes after the NME, whom he says took his comments out of context in a blogpost on their site. The quote we posted above is taking directly from Esquire’s site. Regardless, he stresses that, even to Esquire, he “never said anything about her music or questioned the authenticity of her songs in any way. I was in a conversation about the drawbacks of image for the sake of image....I don’t like my comment about Lady Gaga’s presentation being changed into some sort of negative critique of her music.”
So then here in his statement, when he had a chance to say something about Lady Gaga’s music, he did not. Instead, he said, “Peace to Lady Gaga and I fully congratulate and compliment her on her championing of gay rights issues and the momentum it’s given to help create change.”
That’s nice, but it’s a little like if someone asks you, “Do these jeans make me look fat?” and you answer “I love that purse! Where did you get it?” It’s as if he really wanted to say something nice about Lady Gaga and her, admittedly swell, championing of gay rights was it. Maybe he also would like to comment on what a nice bouquet her perfume has?
While we’re at it, no, White doesn’t dress up in a meat suit, but he’s worked plenty hard to cultivate his own image of a hat-wearing, pale-faced rocker who likes to see himself as an acolyte of blues and rock greats of yore. And that’s fine. Everyone has an image. For as much as Lady Gaga’s fame is based on style, it’s also based on a very real substance that makes her fans feel tremendously connected to her. Whether that’s because of her music or because of a tweet, that doesn’t seem like artifice to me.
Though he had no comment on her music for Esquire or in his new statement, a few years ago he said he channeled her when writing the music for The Dead Weather’s track, “The Difference Between Us.” He said, according to AceShowbiz, “I was thinking of the type of song a contemporary musician would write so I started thinking about [Lady Gaga]. I starting thinking of how she would write the music to this song and got quite into being Lady Gaga in an odd way.”
So even if he’s not a fan, it looks like she’s seeped into his pores, nonetheless. Just as she has with the rest of us. No reply yet about all this from Lady Gaga, who, according to her Twitter page, is too busy working with the United Nations on her compassion campaign to worry about this kind of stuff.
Lest we take any of this too seriously, White certainly lets us know that he isn't above poking plenty of fun at his own musical detractors. On the landing page of his website are two comments from critics that are hilariously negative, including "His songs are often little more than de-fanged blues, lacking the passion and grizzled realness that makes the genre speak to so many people."
Maybe we all just need to lighten up.