Ball and Biscuit

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"Ball and Biscuit"
Song by The White Stripes
Recorded Toe Rag Studios, London
April 2002
Genre Punk blues, blues rock, alternative rock, garage rock revival
Length 7:18
Label XL Recordings
Writer Jack White
Producer Jack White

"Ball and Biscuit" is the eighth track on the album Elephant by American alternative rock band The White Stripes. It is recognizable for its use of Blues as a musical theme, its quiet-loud motif and its heavily distorted guitar solos. As a result of the recurrent jams throughout the song, it is the longest studio track recorded by the band at 7:18. It was never released as a single, but has become widely used in pop culture and became a perennial favorite of fans.

Composition and lyrics[edit]

Blues theme[edit]

The song commits to the structure of traditional 12-Bar Blues. After singing the chorus, White Stripes vocalist and guitarist Jack White breaks into heavily distorted refrain jam solos that use the minor pentatonic scale chords, which is a common convention among hard blues songs.

Lyrics[edit]

The lyrics follow the perspective of a self-purported seventh son as he apparently courts a woman. He mentions that he is the girl's "third man" and that the girl is ambivalent towards him, but he insistently tries to impress her with his claim to be a seventh son.

The ball (cocaine) and biscuit (MDMA) refer to a serious drug problem. "We'll get clean together/And I'll find me a soapbox where I can shout it" suggests this couple will quit, however, the future-tense gives the line a sense of fatalism. It is likely this character is making optimistic propositions while high (a common theme in blues lyrics). Or, it could refer to the STC Coles 4021 microphone that was used at Toe Rag Studios during the Elephant recording sessions. [1]

The Seventh Son is an American folk legend reporting that the seventh son of a seventh son would be granted supernatural powers, which the character of the song claims to possess in the form of superhuman strength. A recollection of similar folklore is frequently found in the Blues and derivatives; notably Willie Dixon sang a blues song entitled "The Seventh Son". The use of the Seventh Son may have been inspired by Jack White's own family situation; he was the seventh and final son in a family of ten children.[2]

Reception[edit]

As "Ball and Biscuit" was never released as a single it was not evaluated by professional critics. However it was voted in a Rolling Stone magazine Reader's Poll to be the greatest Jack White song "by a landslide".[3]

It has also been used numerous times in popular culture. It was featured in as the background music for the Captain Morgan advertisement "Glass"[4] and was heard playing in a bar at the beginning of The Social Network.[5]

References[edit]