What do you get when you mix a nasty hangover, yellow tinted windows and a celebrity encounter? Me almost throwing up, that’s what. There I was this past Friday, walking out of the shop that occupies the southernmost sliver of the Third Man Records facility in Nashville, TN, holding a black shopping bag that itself held the spoils of a shopping trip that was truncated by a sallow lighting scheme that somehow magnified the gastric consequences of a night spent cavorting on Broadway, when I came close enough to Third Man founder Jack White as he was backing out of the parking lot in his Mercedes to projectile vomit all over it. Given how close I came to giving White’s black Benz an unwelcome paint job, I believe not having done so qualifies as “keeping my cool.” Clearly, I shouldn’t be allowed around famous people. Especially famous people I hold in such high esteem.
I’m just plain bad at celebrity sightings, partly because I tend to doubt my own eyes, chalking most encounters up to having seen “someone who looked just like” famous person X. But not this time.
Not after I’d spent my few minutes in the store wondering if he was on the premises and if that nice car I saw in the lot on the way in was his. And there was no mistaking the man’s face, especially after I’d spent the last few weeks staring at it ad nauseam, thanks to the YouTube videos of his recent appearance on Later… with Jools Holland. I was already a Blunderbuss believer before I started studying these performances, which were spread out over two Later… episodes, but hot damn, do these new songs ever come alive when staged. White’s guitar work on “Freedom At 21” is hair-raising — the kind of man-and-machine marriage that feels frighteningly natural in spite of the heaping helping of signal processing. It’s no wonder the dude can assemble a makeshift electric guitar in a minute and a half.
The other reason I shouldn’t be allowed around famous musicians is a financial one — I can’t help buying things afterwards. I wasn’t planning on purchasing Blunderbuss on vinyl, but damned if I didn’t get all jazzed up and head back into that yellow-tinted store to commemorate the day I saw Jack White in Nashville by buying everything I could get my hands on. A Third Man sticker. A Third Man patch. A Third Man guitar pick tin (this one has a shade of practicality to it, but still). And, yes, a vinyl copy of Blunderbuss. Regardless of whether I originally planned to buy it or not, I love that every time I load it up on the turntable, I’ll be reminded of how I saw the man who recorded it operating a motor vehicle just a few feet away, and how I narrowly avoided tossing my cookies all over the place.
Check out his Later… performance of “Freedom at 21” below and snag Blunderbuss here.