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.

Raconteurs

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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