I still remember the first time I read a Cormac McCarthy novel. I was walking around a flea market (maybe Vermont’s #1 summer tourist attraction) a few hours south of where I live, when I saw a tattered copy of Blood Meridian laying on a sheet on the ground. I’d been looking for that particular book for quite some time, so I quickly snatched it up. However, when I took a closer look at the book, I noticed what horrible shape it was in; the spine was creased beyond all recognition, most of the pages were dog-eared or torn in some way, and no matter how long I left it on my windowsill to air, an aroma of cigarette smoke always seemed to saturate it. Still it was readable, and as any insatiable reader would do, I struggled through it. To this day, Blood Meridian remains one of my favorite books. Even through the tears and creases, it was clear that it was an incredible book.
I was reminded of this experience when I first heard the new White Stripes track, ‘A Martyr For My Love For You a few days ago. Like everyone else, I heard the radio rip which, if you haven’t heard it, is of atrocious quality (don’t worry, Warner, no one’s gonna trade a full quality CD for this). But, just like Blood Meridian, it was obvious that ‘Martyr’ was the standout track on Icky Thump, and one of the better White Stripes tracks out there. While it’s not as hard as some of the other tracks on Icky Thump, it doesn’t approch GBMS levels of quietness, either. Lyrically, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Jack so on top of his game; here, he recounts a story of guilt over being attracted to a girl too young for him, with enough self-deprecation to please even Matt Berninger. Stylistically, ‘Martyr’ brings to mind a stronger version of ‘You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket’, mixed with a little ‘I’m Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman’ mixed in. Right about here is where I’d usually post the song itself, but I won’t be doing that for this one for a few reasons. First, the quality is just awful, secondly, I have no doubt Warner would crucify within moments of me hitting the publish button, and thirdly, it would be really awkward to have Jack yell at over the phone; I’m just no good with confrontation. So, listen to these tracks to get yourself pumped for Icky Thump Day, so you can be first in line to get your copy. Peace out.