This is off Bro­ken Boy Soldiers by the The Ra­con­teurs, bet­ter known as “Back when Jack White did a cou­ple of records with Bren­dan Ben­son.” Steady, As She Goes (why that com­ma?) was the big sin­gle on that record, co-written by White & Ben­son, and is just an out­stand­ing pop tune, al­though Jack has his own ideas about where to take it.


I took this my­self, in 2008.

The Ra­con­teurs were maybe my fa­vorite of the Jack White ve­hi­cles over the years, most­ly be­cause Ben­son didn’t seem in­tim­i­dat­ed, clear­ly saw him­self as co-frontman, able to play a gui­tar break or sing lead on a cho­rus when he felt like. I’ve writ­ten be­fore that Jack would re­al­ly do him­self a fa­vor if he got on­stage with some­one who scared him a lit­tle, or at least (as in this case) who act­ed like a band­mate not a min­ion.

Any­how, Steady has a razor-sharp gui­tar line and a great tune, full of hooks and with opaque­ly an­o­dyne lyric­s. I al­ways used to sing along when it was on the ra­dio all the time. And even when it comes on from the ceil­ing speak­ers in the drug­store there’s no mis­tak­ing those du­al off­set­ting gui­tar chord­s. It’s a re­al­ly sweet piece of mu­sic.

I try to catch Jack White when­ev­er he comes to town, and Steady is a big mo­ment in the set. Jack clear­ly dis­agrees with my opin­ion that this is a cheery pop song; he clear­ly sees it as a gui­tar an­them and us­es it as the oc­ca­sion for a whole lot of string-bending and pedal-stomping. I mean, I like it, it sounds great, but my fa­vorite part is still the cho­rus bounc­ing back and forth be­tween the singer­s.

The oth­er song from Bro­ken Boy Soldiers you have to call out is Blue Veins, which is a per­fect­ly or­di­nary slow elec­tric blues, and for a few years there Jack made a project of prov­ing that he could play it with more Sturm und Drang chaot­ic vi­o­lence than any white boy had ev­er played any elec­tric blues. And it was kind of self-indulgent, but boy, was it ev­er a great con­cert piece. Go to YouTube and type in “Blue Veins live” and watch pret­ty well any of them. In par­tic­u­lar, check the ver­sion fea­tured in the Page/White/Edge guitar-tribute move It Might Get Loud, which has Jack bleed­ing from his fin­gers as he plays Blue Veins.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on Spo­ti­fy, iTunes, Ama­zon. Now as for live video, Glas­ton­bury has bet­ter gui­tar back-and-forth, but Mon­treux has a razor-sharp edge. This is su­pe­ri­or rock and rol­l.

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June 11, 2018
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