This week, [artist id=”1667142″]Jack White[/artist] will top the charts in both the U.S. and the U.K. with his side-winding solo album Blunderbuss, a high-water mark for eccentric millionaires not matched since Kim Dotcom decided to become the world’s #1 “Modern Warfare 3″ player, shot an elaborate time-lapse video of him playing the game — with bonus techno soundtrack — then had a cake made to commemorate the achievement.
Of course, I do not know if White is actually a millionaire, though, in a recent New York Times Magazine piece about him, we learned he owns several taxidermied animals (including a Himalayan tahr), drives a black Mercedes and a 1960 Ford Thunderbird, hands out business cards that identify him as John A. White III, D.D.S. – Accidentist and Occidental Archaeologist, maintains a temperature-controlled vault with a biometric scanner, had microphones installed in the eaves of his mansion so he can listen to the rain while he sleeps, and smokes Al Capone cigarillos. But I do know he is most certainly eccentric, downright crazy even. It is what I love about him … and unfortunately, it may also lead to his downfall.
Then again, it probably won’t. All I’m suggesting is that, given everything you’ve just learned about him — and previous achievements in eccentricity like launching 1,000 helium balloons from his Nashville warehouse, touring every province in Canada merely for the sake of wearing a kilt , color-coordinating everything in his life and scoring the “Lone Ranger” movie — it’s not exactly a stretch to call White the rock and roll Howard Hughes (he would definitely build a flying boat out of wood). And you’re probably aware how things turned out for that guy.
I am not sure if it is possible for White to dial things back a touch. I’m not even sure I want him to. Music needs eccentric millionaires, after all, and Kanye can’t shoulder the load alone. And I realize that the reverence with which White treats the most minute of details (and the endless array of odd projects he embarks on) only make him, well, him.
To his credit, he never lets these things interfere with his musical output — in fact, they only add to it — but I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps White is too eccentric? Not, like, “watching ’Ice Station Zebra’ 150 times and stacking Kleenex boxes” eccentric (à la Hughes), but now that I think of it, that doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. I could definitely see him withdrawing from the public eye one day, holing up in his Nashville estate and retiring from music to focus on welding. (Bob Dylan would bring his torches on by, of course.) That probably won’t happen either, but it would definitely be a shame and, hey, you never know.
Mostly, though, I’m worried that perhaps White’s various eccentricities will eventually detract from his music (and come to think of it, this column doesn’t really help in that regard). I definitely don’t want to see him turn into Axl Rose , a man whose, uh, foibles have become more noteworthy than the music he makes. White’s not gonna put his hair in cornrows or anything, but he does run the risk of perhaps becoming better known for the crazy stuff he does on the side than for his full-time job as a totally kick-ass rock paragon. And that would be the biggest shame of all.
So, Jack, don’t get me wrong; I’m not asking you to change — I’d never do that in a million years. I love Blunderbuss and am genuinely happy it’ll be the #1 album in this country (because, really, there’s only so much I can write about Adele or Lionel Richie). You are fantastic and unique and a genuine national treasure. But maybe just tone the crazy down a few notches? I don’t want to see it overshadow your true talents and I definitely don’t want to see you become a germ-obsessed recluse. Perhaps sell the stuffed tahr or donate the biometric scanner to a charity of your choice. Oh, and go outside every once in a while. You’re beginning to look translucent.
You can still be you, of course. I want you to be nothing less … OK, maybe a little less. But for your own good.
Should Jack White tone it down for his own good? Sound off on this week’s Bigger Than the Sound in the comments below!