By: Ryan Kor
Sanford Stadium erupts into an electrifying array of sound as the third quarter begins. Gratuitous piano grace notes, heavily distorted electric guitar, and siren-like vocal patterns make up the instrumental track that has become a theme song for the Georgia Bulldogs 2014 football season. Despite its presence on Saturday’s in Athens, not many people even know the name of the tune.
The track is “High Ball Stepper”, off of Jack White’s new album Lazaretto. Lazaretto was released on June 10th, 2014, and was White’s second solo album. The album topped the charts after its release, ranking number one and selling 130,000 copies in the first week.
I received a vinyl copy of Lazaretto for my birthday, and it instantly became the soundtrack to my summer. I’ve always been a fan of White’s work, The White Stripes and The Raconteurs are two of my favorite bands. After only one listen, I was captivated. The songs range from twangy ballads to blues-rock melodies. “High Ball Stepper” was the only instrumental track on the album.
Lazaretto is partially based on a collection of poems written when White was 19 that he found in his attic. The album’s lyrics constantly allude to ghosts and loneliness. The word “Lazaretto” itself is defined as a highly quarantined hospital for lepers. Isolation must have been a theme for White when he was younger.
One of things I found most interesting about Lazaretto was White’s utilization of female musicians. White had 17 accompanying musicians work with him on the album, and 7 of them were women. These women contributed most of the background vocals and a variety of other instruments. White himself contributed far more than just vocals and guitar to the album—he played piano, drums, and even maracas.
In my opinion, Lazaretto is one of the few albums with a truly unique sound. The music is sophisticated in its complexity, yet conveys earnestly raw emotion. Each component of the music is carefully crafted to contribute to the eclectic sound of the album. Even design of the album is unique. The colors used on the CD are exclusively blue, black, and white, and the 10 inch vinyl is marbled light blue and white.
Though our next home game is weeks away, the stadium will once again be filled with the vibrant tune of “High Ball Stepper.” But this time, you’ll be able to identify it.