Monday, November 23, 2015

Here's your Jack White--Haruki Murakami Connection

I hope you've been looking for one--for years--because your ship has finally come in.

His favorite guitar has long been a red 1964 Montgomery Ward Airline model Res-O-Glas guitar, an instrument made in Chicago by the Valco company and — prior to White’s use of this one — better known for carrying the National brand name. Yep, it’s essentially made out of plastic, and despite looking like humbuckers those pickups are actually rather noisy, microphonic single coils … but they rock with a righteously raw, textured tone, make no mistake. White has also often used a cheap Kay arcthop acoustic-electric for slide guitar, and on the first three White Stripes albums he mainly rammed these through a mid ’60s Silvertone 1485 tube head (another catalog beauty, this time courtesy of Sears & Roebuck) and a 6x10" Silvertone speaker cab. 
--7 Unlikely Rigs That Rocked the World

I think there's more creativity when there's less opportunity.
A lot of of the White Stripes is about constriction and keeping ourselves boxed in.
It's better to explore creativity with limited means. You get more out of it.
--The White Stripes - Charly Rose Interview pt. 1

I can't find the exact passage today, but I've seen a clip where Jack White talks about how long it takes to tune his lousy Montgomery Ward guitar. It's a laborious process--over an hour at times--but he says it forces the best out of him to play such a limited, unruly guitar.

Haruki Murakami (from Wind/Pinball: Two novels): an experiment, I decided to write the opening of my novel in ability in English composition didn't amount to much. My vocabulary was severely limited, as was my command of English syntax. I could only write in simple, short sentences. Which meant that, however complex and numerous the thoughts running around my head, I couldn't even attempt to set them down as they came to me. The language had to be simple, my ideas expressed in an easy-to-understand way, the descriptions stripped of all extraneous fat, the form made compact, everything arranged to fit a container of limited size. The result was a rough, uncultivated kind of prose. As I struggled to express myself in that fashion, however, step by step, a distinctive rhythm began to take shape.

Since I was born and raised in Japan, the vocabulary and patterns of the Japanese language had filled the system that was me to the bursting, like a barn crammed with livestock. When I sought to put my thoughts and feelings into words, those animals began to mill about, and the system crashed. Writing in a foreign language, with all the limitations that entailed, removed this obstacle...

Then I sat down and "translated" the chapter or so that I had written in English into Japanese. Well, "transplanted" might be more accurate, since it wasn't a direct verbatim translation. In the process, inevitably, a new style of Japanese emerged. The style that would be mine. A style I myself had discovered. Now I get it, I thought. This is how I should be doing it. It was a moment of true clarity, when the scales fell from my eyes.

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