105. Song No. 1,403: “Broken Boy Soldier,” The Raconteurs
Broken Boy Soldiers, 2006
I’m not an avid Jack White/White Stripes/&c. fan but I do recognize how wickedly talented he is, how hard most of his stuff slaps, and how often I enjoy his prodigious musical output whenever I encounter it.
The Raconteurs are actually one of those rare delights that hubs introduced me to right when we first started dating by way of this album, so they and it have a sentimental edge over the rest of White’s projects, which might be what post-college me needs to fully invest myself in giving new music the sincere chance it deserves. (Although an opening track like “Steady, As She Goes” makes a pretty solid argument for paying good goddamn attention for all 33 minutes and 42 seconds of an album that pays worthy, earwormy tribute to a veritable smorgasbord of musical pioneers.)
Even so, I didn’t give White much thought ’til watching the 2008 documentary It Might Get Loud, which includes him and the man/myth/legend Jimmy Page. It begins with White making a guitar out of, like, a glass soda bottle and assorted otherwise nonmusical refuse, which he shows to Page toward the end and is positively giddy when the elder god is delighted by it. What little I knew about White at the time all seemed like tidbits of evidence supporting the central thesis that he is cool personified; watching him fangirl over a personal hero taking obvious pleasure in his ingenuity was one of the doc’s most utterly charming moments.
What this has to do with “Broken Boy Soldier” is the beauty of all that coming full circle: Even with two decades of being a Led Zeppelin fan informing so much of how my taste has progressed over the years and knowing their discography pretty damn well, I cannot ever heard the first few bars of this song without a moment of confused amusement and trying to figure out where the hell this Zep deep cut came from.