Song 260: Jack White, “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” (2012)

Blunderbuss-cover-image

For all of the well-deserved raves that Jack White has received over the years—for his guitar prowess, his inimitable voice, his passion for analog—his songwriting skills seem to get less attention. He’s a damn great songwriter, capable of fierce, monstrous workouts and subtle, beautiful ballads.

He also writes songs like “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy,” a track that sounds like a little pop throwaway when listening to Blunderbuss as a whole, but when hearing it out of context (as I did on the radio recently), it sounds like the gem it is.

The arrangement is simple but very effective: as far as I can tell, the track features acoustic guitar, mandolin, piano and drums. There’s no bass on the track, a method that lent early White Stripes record a fiery treble sound. Here, the lack of low end makes the song sound lighter than air, gentle and lilting.

“Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” is a bit of a trifle, but by design. Compared to the raw, biting “Sixteen Saltines,” it’s like someone holding your hand. The fact that White is so adept at both extremes is a credit to his incredible talent.

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