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Music

Jack White discusses the "most divisive" song of his career

Jack White doesn’t do flops. The legendary Detroit rocker has been a critical darling since the very earliest days of The White Stripes, and he’s continued to check all the boxes that rock critics love to swoon over: constant reinvention, authentic love of the blues, dedication to new styles while retaining the signature sound, and over and over and over. The point is that Jack White doesn’t have very many duds in his discography.

If you were going to point to the rare example of something White did that wasn’t universally acclaimed, chances are you’re probably going to single out ‘Another Way to Die’. The theme song that White wrote for the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace saw him team up with R&B queen Alicia Keys to create a sort of garage rock-R&B-noir hybrid. The reception wasn’t exactly universal, something that White himself acknowledges.

“That’s one of the most divisive things I’ve been a part of,” White told Conan O’Brien on his podcast Conan Needs a Friend. “To this day, straight across the board, people would say you either love it or hate it. That song: there are people who hate it so much and people who love it so much. Nowhere in the middle. It’s so strange.”

White acknowledged that the Bond film ‘Another Way to Die’ is tied to probably didn’t help its chances thanks to Quantum of Solace‘s own frosty reception, considering how Bond is basically a way of life in Britain. “The movie comes along with what people think of it. But Bond themes in Britain, for example, that’s consistent coffee/breakfast conversation,” White explained. “It’s almost like who you are as a person. You relate to which song means something to you in a way.”

White also mentioned that his own favourite Bond theme was Tom Jones’ ‘Thunderball’ and dropped a little bit of trivia by acknowledging Johnny Cash’s originally attempt to record the film’s theme, which was ultimately rejected in favour of Jones’ version. Jones almost died trying to make that final note happen, so maybe that dedication is what draws White into that particular theme.

What White doesn’t mention on the podcast is that he had the perfect Bond theme that came just a few years too early: ‘Seven Nation Army’. When White first wrote the legendary riff, he thought that it would have made a nice Bond theme, but since he had no realistic expectation of landing that gig back in 2002, he decided to use the riff with The White Stripes instead.

Check out White discussing ‘Another Way to Die’ down below.