At Goldman Sach’s, the owner’s son is often handed over to me when he comes in at 3 pm. He’s a senior in High School. Alone in the deli, Stevie Sachs and I have time to discuss things. The other day we had a conversation about the White Stripes. He wrongly suggested that their live shows might suffer because of the smallness of the band. As I walked toward the window ledge to make adjustments to my ipod and the connected boombox, I informed him of the falsity of his claim.
“See how Jack’s playing that riff? See now how he’s basically playing it again, but with that rhythmic feedback this time?”
“See how here, he stops playing? See how the crowd is now carrying the riff? Ohhh oh oh oh oh ohhhhh ohhhh? You hear that? It’s just the crowd Oh’ing that riff and Meg hitting her bass drum. Yeah, OK, Now, Stevie- you don’t teach this. The people Oh’ing that guitar riff are the masses. They can’t sing. They went to work today. They went out for coffee. They have bellies. They are short, tall, bald, gaunt, thin. They watch cooking shows. They work in HR. They settle. They go home. They watch sports. They occasionally go to concerts. Rock & Roll isn’t their job. Most of them don’t have musical talent- but they have to collectively carry this little guitar riff while Jack stops playing. And they need to do it well enough so that Jack can sing along. …SO, Stevie, in order for this to happen the riff needs to be stirring. So infectious that it sears itself onto their consciousness. This searing needs to happen through crappy car speakers while the masses are at drive-thru windows. It needs to stick when they’re leaning out of their cars, guts pressed against doors, reaching for burgers. You have to communicate something to them with this riff. You have to wake them up. At the office, when they realize that they’re humming something, they need to stop and ask themselves exactly what they’re humming. Rock & Roll isn’t their job. They do not have roadies in penguin suits and top hats chauffeur them around in classic cars. But they need to do be able to do this. This isn’t easy Stevie.”