The Seven Nation Army riff has entered everyone’s head since the 2000s. This song from The White Stripes has a somewhat old style, reminiscent of a song from the late ’70s. More precisely, we can define this genre as “garage rock revival”.
Who are The White Stripes
Literally their name means “the white stripes”. They are an American garage rock/punk blues duo from Detroit, active from 1997 to 2011. The members are Jack White (John Anthony Gillis) on vocals and guitar and Meg White (Megan Martha White) on drums. Occasionally Jack plays drums, bass, keyboards. Meg plays organ, guitar, timpani and we hear her voice in the choirs.
There was a love affair between Jack and Meg initially. Jack White is also a member of two other rock bands: The Raconteurs (guitar and vocals) and The Dead Weather (drums and second voice). In addition, he has been an actor in some films, such as “Return to Cold Mountain”.
Let’s find out 5 curiosities about “Seven Nation Army” that you may not know.
5 Curiosities about Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
1. How the bass sound in Seven Nation Army was born
The song Seven Nation Army is the first track of the fourth album “Elephant” (2003). The music is very simple but it presents some really brilliant tricks. We hear distorted voices, the sound of drums and of bass. But it’s not a real bass, because The White Stripes didn’t have a bass player. The sound comes from a semi-acoustic guitar connected to a DigiTech Whammy pedal (a pitch shift effect), lowering the pitch by one octave.
2. The genesis of the song: a soundtrack for James Bond
Jack White created the song riff in the Corner Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, during a band tour in January 2002.
Initially the singer decided to keep the riff for a hypothetical soundtrack of a James Bond film. He didn’t even have a name for the song and thought of temporarily calling it “Seven Nation Army”.
But what is this army of seven nations? In reality the original expression is “Salvation Army”. Jack White as a child did not understand the words well and thought they were precisely “seven nation army”.
The seven, however, is also a characteristic of the song, which in the refrain presents seven notes that are repeated in the same order.
3. What is the Seven Nation Army lyrics from The White Stripes about?
The lyrics tells the story of a person who suffers constant gossip about his life, then decides to leave the city. However, feeling lonely and with the absence of his city, he returns there.
Jack White claims that it is autobiographical and that it describes the situation in which he found himself with Meg White, when they were stormed by rumors. The song has achieved worldwide success thanks to its use as an anthem in sports, especially in football.
4. The video of the song
The director of the music video is Alexandre Courtès, of French origin. He has also worked for U2, Jamiroquai, Foo Fighters, Kasabian, Snow Patrol, Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand. Courtès works in collaboration with his friend and colleague Martin Fougerol, with whom he forms the duo Alex & Martin.
In the “Seven Nation Army” video, the choreography shows triangles and circles moving forward in a concentric way, as if they were Russian matryoshkas or a kaleidoscopic tunnel, with various effects of lights and movements.
The prevailing colors are black, white and red. Inside the triangles and circles we see the two members of the band in sequence as they play or move. The director was inspired by the poster for the movie “Clockwork Orange”.
We also see marching skeletons and an elephant, which is linked to the title of the album “Elephant”.
The video won the Best Video Editing Award at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards and was nominated for Best Group Video, Best Rock Video and Best Special Effects.
The song won the best rock song of the year at the 46th Grammy Awards.
What does Jack White’s gesture from The White Stripes mean in the video?
In the video, at 2:57 minutes, Jack White points to his left hand (in the next image, with a horizontal flip effect, the hand looks like the right).
According to some interpretations, Jack White is showing where he comes from, that is, the state of Michigan, which is said to have the shape of a glove.