Some could say Jack White’s trip to stardom has been rough, coming up as a lone blues player in Detroit isn’t exactly easy. In 2006 a man that has proved too cool for Hollywood moved from his hometown in Michigan to Nashville, Tennessee. He has made a few stark comments about the city in the past, including the most-recent being in the June 2008 issue of Rolling Stone, where he cites the local music community as being “super-negative”, also saying “I couldn’t breathe in that scene”. I really don’t blame the guy for moving, everyone needs a change of scenery sometimes.
Amidst any controversy surrounding these statements and out of respect for Detroit and its people, Jack White felt the need to clear a few things up. This morning The Detroit Free Press published a few words from White, including a poem written entirely about the city:
The following poem is the Detroit from my mind. The Detroit that is in my heart. The home that encapsulates and envelops those who are truly blessed with the experience of living within its boundaries:
I have driven slow, three miles an hour or so, through Highland Park, Heidelberg, and the Cass Corridor. I’ve hopped on the Michigan, and transferred to the Woodward, and heard the good word blaring from an a.m. radio. I love the worn-through tracks of trolley trains breaking through their concrete vaults, As I ride the Fort Street or the Baker, just making my way home.
I sneak through an iron gate, and fish rock bass out of the strait, watching the mail boat with its tugboat gait, hauling words I’ll never know. The water letter carrier, bringing prose to lonely sailors, treading the big lakes with their trailers, floats in blue green chopping waters, above long-lost sunken failures, awaiting exhumation iron whalers, holding gold we’ll never know.
I’ve slid on Belle Isle, and rowed inside of it for miles. Seeing white deer running alongside While I glide, in a canoe. I’ve walked down Caniff holding a glass Atlas root beer bottle in my hands And I’ve entered closets of coney islands early in the morning too. I’ve taken malt from Stroh’s and Sanders, felt the black powder of abandoned embers, And smelled the sawdust from wood cut to rehabilitate the fallen edifice. I’ve walked to the rhythm of mariachis, down junctions and back alleys, Breathing fresh-baked fumes of culture nurtured of the Latin and the Middle East. I’ve fallen down on public ice, and skated in my own delight, and slid again on metal crutches into trafficked avenues.
Three motors moved us forward, Leaving smaller engines to wither, the aluminum, and torpedo, Monuments to unclaimed dreaming. Foundry’s piston tempest captured, Forward pushing workers raptured, Frescoed families strife fractured, Encased by factory’s glass ceiling.
Detroit, you hold what one’s been seeking, Holding off the coward-armies weakling, Always rising from the ashes not returning to the earth.
I so love your heart that burns That in your people’s body yearns To perpetuate, and permeate, the lonely dream that does encapsulate, Your spirit, that God insulates, With courageous dream’s concern.
– JACK WHITE