Love Is Blindness and So Am I

Kat Taylor / October 17, 2011
photo of Jack White from the documentary "It Might Get Loud"

When I first read the news that Jack White covered the song “Love Is Blindness” by U2, I experienced the misread of my life (or at least this month). I had a different Jack in mind when I excitedly clicked the link, expecting a comedic, no-frills acoustic stage performance featuring a squat, long-haired man with a penchant for heart-warming ditties and emphatic rock opera.

I was wrong, so very wrong. This cover is not by the kind, quirky, well-meaning Jack Black. This cover is by the over-hyped, lo-fi rocker Jack White, a man who is in every sense of the word, even down to his very last name, the opposite.

I was committed, so I suffered through this gritty rendition from the singer/guitarist of The White Stripes fame. Since their breakout about a decade ago, the Detroit alternative rock band has enjoyed huge success in the US and abroad, harnessing a signature sound and a unique backstory. Regardless of his band’s popularity, Jack White still doesn’t hold a candle to U2’s Bono, and he’s ridiculous for even trying.

The White Stripes may appeal to a widespread garage-rock revival, but U2 overtake them with soul, talent, longevity, and most importantly, production quality. Plain and simple, they just sound better. Achtung Baby, the 1991 album from which the ill-fated song came, is the perfect example of a versatile, innovative album that didn’t need to deafen listeners to get them to pay attention.

I’m hoping this misguided action stems from some sort of personal tie he has with the song. Maybe this song was playing when he wrecked a car, got dumped by his first girlfriend, or ran over a cat. Maybe it provided some special meaning to his life that touched him so deeply that he had no choice but to get it out of him. Still, he could have done what the rest of us non-rockstars do and let loose at a karaoke bar.

This is the sound of a song that has aged a couple of decades, let its beauty wither away only to be forgotten, and allowed itself to be raked across the coals by an unassuming leader of the disposable generation. What was once a passionate, tangible ballad is now a tragic, slapped-together snippet of noise for the kiddies to snack on while they wait for the next big music trend.

Compare, contrast, and commiserate with others who willingly exposed themselves to three ineffectual minutes of music-legend butchery.

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