After melting faces on The Tonight Show Monday night, Jack White chose a more intimate vibe for his Wednesday night performance on Conan. Strumming on a petite chrome guitar, White was joined by just his bassist, dobro player and fiddle player for a stirring performance of Lazaretto‘s solemn, aching “Temporary Ground.”
The quartet also picked out a heartwarming rendition of “Alone in My Home,” which may not have the happiest subject matter in the world either, but White and Co. performed the brokenhearted ditty with a sweet, earnest charm. Only a guy like White could crack a small smile after singing a line like, “Lost feelings of love, lost feelings of love / Hover above me.”
White also stuck around to chat with O’Brien about Lazaretto, fans’ cell phone etiquette and the quarantine island that gave his new album its title, which he discovered in a book about the black plague. “This was just some light beach reading,” O’Brien cracked.
O’Brien recalled going to a Los Angeles Dodgers game with White when the crowd began chanting the riff from the White Stripes‘ “Seven Nation Army” (O’Brien, obviously, started improvising lyrics about how White was making money at that very moment). While White said people often assume those chants upset him, he’s actually quite honored by it: “As a songwriter, that’s the greatest thing that could ever happen,” he said. “It becomes folk music because people take it over. And I don’t know of that many songs where they’re not saying words, they’re chanting a melody… it’s just a guttural feeling for them.” So guttural in fact that, as O’Brien pointed out, a cruise ship honked the tune to celebrate the 825th anniversary of the Port of Hamburg in Germany.
While Lazaretto has finally hit the shelves, White will remain busy as ever throughout the summer: Just a week after conquering Governors Ball in New York, he’ll headline Bonnaroo before heading over to Europe for a quick trek. White returns stateside for a North American tour that kicks off July 19th with another headlining set at Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. You can also get an inside look at Lazaretto in our recent cover story on White, the first time the guitarist has graced the Rolling Stone cover solo.