Elephant is a 2003 album by The White Stripes. It's their fourth record and also their most acclaimed album, most notable for the hit singles "Seven Nation Army" (which won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song and received massive airplay) and "The Hardest Button To Button". The album received positive reviews upon release, and in recent years has garnered almost universal acclaim.
For the recording, Jack White primarily used vintage, 1960s stereo equipment and completely dissociated himself and Meg from contemporary music during the songwriting process. He captured Blues, Folk Rock, and even some Punk Rock influences throughout the album. The album featured Jack White's signature Three Chords and the Truth style, but also more intricate instrumentality in tracks such as "The Air Near My Fingers" and "There's No Home For You Here". Word of God maintains that it's also a loose Concept Album revolving around the death of a so-called American sweetheart, with themes surrounding relationships, depression, and modern life.
Due to its thematic songwriting and impressive Genre Roulette, it was listed at #390 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time in 2003, just a month following the album's release. In 2013, NME listed it as the #116 greatest album on their list of the same name.
- "Seven Nation Army" (3:52)
- "Black Math" (3:04)
- "There's No Home for You Here" (3:44)
- "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" (2:46)
- "In the Cold, Cold Night" (2:58)
- "I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother's Heart" (3:21)
- "You've Got Her in Your Pocket" (3:40)
- "Ball and Biscuit" (7:19)
- "The Hardest Button to Button" (3:32)
- "Little Acorns" (4:09)
- "Hypnotize" (1:48)
- "The Air Near My Fingers" (3:40)
- "Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine" (3:18)
- "Well It's True That We Love One Another" (2:43)
Well, it's true that we trope one another:
- Alliterative Title: "Ball And Biscuit", "The Hardest Button To Button", "In The Cold Cold Night".
- Audience Participation Song: "Seven Nation Army".
- Badass Boast: These occur in a few of their songs, but "Ball and Biscuit", which is basically 7+ minutes of continual badass boasting, particularly stands out:Right now you could care less about me
But soon enough you will care by the time I'm done.
- Break the Cutie: "You've Got Her In Your Pocket", a Surprisingly Gentle Song about a guy who plays a girl and then breaks her heart.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Jack White and Holly Golightly sing a duet in "Well, It's True That We Love One Another" and bicker how they love or don't love one another, to which Meg sings: "Will the two of you cut it out/and tell 'em [the audience] what it's really all about?"
- Broken Record: "There's no home for you here, girl, go away".
- Call to Agriculture: "Seven Nation Army"I'm going to Wichita, far from this opera forever more
I'm gonna work the straw, make the sweat drip out of every pore
- Cover Version: The Burt Bacharach cover "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself".
- Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover.
- A Dog Named "Dog": The lyrics in "The Hardest Button to Button" mention the birth of a baby boy that is named "Baby".
- Droste Image: The video for "Seven Nation Army".
- Eek, a Mouse!!: One of the photos◊ in the CD booklet is a close-up of Meg's bare feet as she stands on a chair, recoiling from a mouse on the floor.
- Epic Rocking: The seven minute long "Ball and Biscuit".
- Face on the Cover: The band is shown from a distance, full frontal, but still in the center of attention.
- Idiosyncratic Cover Art: Much like their other albums, this one solely uses the colors red, white, and black. Look closely: you can also see an image sort of hidden in the picture. See it? No? It's an elephant.
- Letters 2 Numbers: Subtly done with the back cover—the E's in the title are actually rendered as backwards 3's.
- Let's Duet: "It's True That We Love One Another" is a three-way Call-and-Response Song among Jack, Meg, and English singer Holly Golightly.
- Miniscule Rocking: "Hypnotize" is under two minutes.
- Mythology Gag: "It's True That We Love One Another" thrives almost entirely on the Urban Legend that Jack and Meg are supposedly either brother and sister, married or former lovers, or all of the three? They tease the audience with the confusion.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Black Math".
- One-Word Title: Elephant, "Hypnotize".
- Overly Long Scream: The baby in "The Hardest Button To Button" sounded like "an earthquake".
- Pep-Talk Song: "Little Acorns". The opening narration talks about a woman who learned to break her problems into smaller pieces in order to enable herself to solve them.
- Quarreling Song: "Well It's True That We Love One Another", where Jack and Holly bicker, while Meg comes in between.
- Science Is Bad: Jack mocks this in "Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine", about a woman who puts more faith into unorthodox remedies rather than trust in medical science.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: "There's No Home For You Here", which features a chorus of backing vocals, all by Jack White.
- Self-Referential Humor: The line in "Ball and Biscuit" that goes "It might be true that I'm your third man girl/But it's a FACT that I'm the seventh son!" are references to Jack's record label, Third Man Records, and the fact that he is the seventh son of his familynote .
- Special Guest: Holly Golightly during "It's True That We Love One Another". Detroit radio host Mort Krim on "Little Acorns", an homage to Jack's admiration of the man while he was younger.
- Spoken Word in Music: "Little Acorns" has Opening Narration.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Meg sings "In The Cold, Cold Night".
- Stern Teacher: Jack speaks out against one in "Black Math":Mathematically turning the page
Unequivocally showing my age
I'm practically center stage
Undeniably earning your wage
Well maybe I'll put my love on ice
And teach myself, maybe that'll be nice
- Studio Chatter: The end of "It's True That We Love One Another".
- Textless Album Cover: Except on the Russian release.
- That Old-Time Prescription: Referred to in "Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine".Well strip the bark right off a tree
And just hand it this way
Don't even need a drink of water
To make the headache go away.
- Three Chords and the Truth: "Seven Nation Army" especially, but also "I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother's Heart," "You've Got Her in Your Pocket", and "In the Cold, Cold Night". Considering that Jack used recording equipment from The '60s, these minimalistic songs make the more complex instrumentals in the album sound more impressive.