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Music

Listen to Meg White's isolated drums on The White Stripes song 'The Hardest Button to Button'

@SamWKemp

No list of the best drummers of the 2000s is complete without at least mentioning Meg White from the White Stripes. Deceptively simple, her style was perfectly geared towards the neo-garage sound conjured up by Jack White’s furious guitar line. Here, we’ve bought you the isolated drum track from one of the duo’s most iconic tracks, ‘The Hardest Button to Button’

Released on 2003’s Elephant, ‘The Hardest Button to Button’ tells the story of a boy rejected and ignored by his family. While the cause of the family’s disdain is initially unclear, it gradually becomes apparent that the young child did something bad to his baby brother. Many fans have taken the song as a comment on the innate inequality of the family dynamic, with the parent’s attention often focused on one child above the other. However, there’s a sense of the gothic, a certain darkness in White’s lyrics that suggests the child might be being psychologically abused.

Jack White himself seems to have read into the track a little less deeply. In The White Stripes FAQ, the frontman is quoted as saying: “There’s a button at the top of my navy peacoat, and it’s the hardest button to button. I thought that was a great metaphor for the off man out in the family. It also comes from sayings of my father, like ‘My uncle Harold had a ten button vest but he could only fasten eight.'”

‘The Hardest Button To Button’ proved to be a challenging song to record. As has become a staple of White’s process, the frontman refused to use computers, and nothing in London’s modest Toe Rag Studios was older than 1963. While this gave the record its signature grit, it also raised numerous problems. As Third Man photographer David Swanson told Uncut, “I was there with Jack and Meg, filming and photography in the making of the album. There was too much feedback in between the verse riffs, so Jack tried to turn on a compressor pedal to kill it. But it became a nuisance, so I was enlisted to play the compressor pedal on the song, turning it off and on between every riff.”

This isolated recording of Meg White’s drum track for ‘The Hardest Button To Button’ reveals how the drummer was required to take on the role of an entire rhythm section, using her kick drum to replace the resonant thrum of bass guitar. Make sure you check it out below.