No song in The White Stripes’ catalogue is ever going to eclipse the complete cultural omnipresence of ‘Seven Nation Army’. When legions of football fans across the world are chanting your riff without ever knowing anything about you or your band, that’s the kind of visibility that can’t be bought. But Jack and Meg White have quite a few songs that continue to be referenced and praised, even as The White Stripes themselves have been out of commission for over a decade.
One of those tracks is the gentle acoustic folk number ‘We’re Going to Be Friends’ from 2001’s White Blood Cells. Centred around the narrative of a young child meeting a brand new friend in school, the song is simplistic and innocent in a way that perfectly paired with the White’s stripped-back sound and aesthetic. Although it was a clear break from the punk blues that had become their trademark by that point, ‘We’re Going to Be Friends’ was almost instantly canonised as one of the band’s best songs.
That was partially thanks to its endearing usage during the opening credits of the 2004 film Napoleon Dynamite. Jack and Meg were generally hesitant to license their songs to films, TV, or commercials, but when director Jared Hess sent the duo a preview of the film, they agreed to let ‘We’re Going to Be Friends’ be included in the movie’s opening.
What most listeners or filmgoers didn’t pick up on was the fact that all of the themes and storylines from ‘We’re Going to Be Friends’ were already used in a previous White Stripes song, ‘Sister, Do You Know My Name?’ from 2000’s De Stijl. Following the same scenario of trying to make a friend before the first day of school, ‘Sister, Do You Know My Name?’ was more in line with the group’s bluesy roots than the twee folkiness of ‘We’re Going to Be Friends’. But both songs have an unadorned and nostalgic take on youth and friendship that links them together.
The central Suzy Lee character in ‘We’re Going to Be Friends’ was also a recurring figure in the world of The White Stripes. On the band’s self-titled 1999 debut album, there is a song entitled ‘Suzy Lee’ about the narrator’s uncertainty about his feelings towards the central character. Obviously, the character was important to the band, who dedicated their 2005 album Get Behind Me Satan to Suzy Lee, “Wherever she may be”.
Check out the entire chronicle of Suzy Lee down below.