In addition to Jack White's own prolific music career, the Third Man Records founder has also adopted the role of archivist and music historian thanks to his mammoth Paramount Records collection. Last year, Third Man and Revenant Records teamed up for The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27), which documented how a Wisconsin-based furniture company became the producer of thousands of influential "race records." With Volume Two (1928-32) set to arrive on December 1st, the Lazaretto singer visited CBS This Morning to discuss the massive undertaking.
"You can sit down on a Sunday and spend seven hours with it and you've still only gotten through about 5 percent of it," White told CBS This Morning's Anthony Mason. In the interview, White compared gathering all the music for the Paramount collection to ghost hunting. "There's so many of those singers where you just have a name and there's no photograph, no record of who they are, where they came from. That's it. And we're lucky to have that," White said.
The Dead Weather singer also reveals why this project became a labor of love for him. "I want it to be something a hundred years from now, two hundred years from now, someone will drag out of the attic and it'll inspire some songwriter then who will listen to Charley Patton or Geechie Wiley and find something beautiful and trigger something new and carry that forward," White says of his Paramount Records box set. "I hope that happens with it."
In October 2013, Rolling Stone spoke to White about what he had in store for the second volume of his Paramount Records reissue. "The zenith of Paramount – recording Charley Patton – is going to be explored in the second volume," White said. "They recorded the grandfather of the blues, of modern music. He didn't seem like a real person. He seemed like he wasn't from earth. Charley Patton's presence led us to this idea. But as we got into more obscure songs, we realized this is just too good a story."
Like its predecessor, The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume Two (1928-32) transcends the common notion of box set, stuffing six LPs, 800 digital tracks, two large-format books and "a First-of-its-kind music and image player app containing all tracks and ads, housed on custom metal USB drive, all housed in a polished aluminum case evoking the era's high art deco stylings and America's own Machine Age take on modernist design." Check out the Third Man site for more info. As Mason jokes on CBS This Morning, the set costs nearly as much as a mortgage payment, but White, Third Man and Revenant make it worth it.