Jack White is often credited with keeping the rock & roll spirit alive in the new millennium, but if you ask him, he’d rather be making music in any other decade besides this one. That’s what the Lazaretto rocker tells veteran newsman Dan Rather in The Big Interview, a wide-ranging conversation that covers everything from White’s move to Nashville to how he envies the musicians of the Sixties.
In the Big Interview, White recounts a conversation that he had with Bob Dylan where the two discussed the difference in the state of the music industry between the Sixties and today. “I was talking to Bob Dylan and I said, ‘In a way, you guys had it so lucky in the Sixties.’ All these recording techniques that had never been tried before, the Civil Rights movement was coming to a head, the Vietnam War,” White tells Rather of his Dylan conversation. “The whole world was changing… There was so much to sing about. It was like shooting fish in a barrel.”
In contrast to the radical and rebellious Sixties, White struggles to find inspiration in today’s youth. “I don’t see beauty in teenagers sitting next to each other texting and not talking face to face. I don’t see that beauty in the way that pop music is all recorded on computers and Auto-Tune and presented in that really plastic way,” White tells Rather. “And I guess I just do my best in whatever I do to try to defeat those ideas and present it in something I think is at least an attempt at getting at truth and getting at beauty.
“It is a lot harder now, and I am a little bit jealous of the artists from the other decades because it seemed like you could just do your job and not worry about this periphery of stuff,” White added. “The idea that I just have to be a hustler now just to be a musician, you sort of have to sell yourself all the time now. I think you could have just been a songwriter and everyone else would do that around you. I doubt Frank Sinatra cared what was on his album cover.”
White’s complete Big Interview with Dan Rather will premiere Tuesday, September 16th on AXS TV at 8 p.m. ET. As Rolling Stone previously reported, the discussion will also cover White’s decision to leave his native Detroit and settle in Nashville. “It was very hard for me to move. Detroit, I always imagined I was going to be there my whole life. It always felt like my home – even as hard as it is to live there, it always felt that way to me,” White said, adding that the city’s “cynical environment” after the White Stripes found success made it difficult for him to “live and create” in the Motor City.