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Sixteen Saltines

by

Jack White



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

White unveiled this raw rocker about a girl with whom he had a complicated relationship for the first time during his March 3, 2012 appearance on Saturday Night Live. The studio version was subsequently released via White's YouTube channel on March 13, 2012 and the vinyl single was made available to stores a week later.
This was the second single to be released from Blunderbuss, the first album released solely under Jack White's name after recordings with the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather. During a playback for the record in London, England, White said the sessions weren't planned for anything in particular until the process was further down the line. "I didn't really know I was doing it until I was doing it; four or five songs in, it felt like it was turning in to something," he explained. "That's how it started, I got three songs out of the first session, and it just sorta kept going. I didn't know if they'd be for a Dead Weather record or a Raconteurs record, but by about the sixth or seventh song it felt like I was making a record of its own, so I just thought 'I guess I'll call this Me'."
On several occasions White had no material prepared in advance before going into the studio. Discussing the recording and writing process, he said: "Sometimes I would challenge myself, when I had nothing, to make something up on the spot, although I'd tell the other players that I already had something in mind. I would just sit down at the piano, while six or seven people were standing around, waiting for me to tell them what to do. I'd make up the changes and the tempo as I went along." (Source The Quietus).
White told NME about the inspiration for the lyrics: "My daughter asked for a snack, and I said, 'what do you want to have?', and she said, 'I think I'll have 16 saltine crackers.' And I said, 'You'll have three!' At times I imagined that character was eating cracker rations on a lifeboat and he's remembering all these other things."
The really weird music video is the product of the fervent imagination of director AG Rojas (Chase & Status' "Hitz," Emeli Sandé's "Daddy." Shot outside Nashville, the clip is three minutes of kids running amok. "Basically, I was working off the energy of the track, and I just wanted to create all these little vignettes about youth," he explained to MTV News regarding its concept. "The kids are the only people left on earth and Jack is the last adult, and so because of that, he becomes their enemy. And I wanted to explore the rest of that world, and see what the kids get up to. They just kind of go wild.

Everyone's local... a lot of them, we just found them through street casting," he added. "There's one scene with this kid who just had this certain weird charisma, and I asked the production designer to give me some weapons and we went through a warehouse, which was incredibly dangerous, so many holes and nails everywhere. I just told him what to do, and he was just, like, super-stoked to just smash sh--. We like to keep it pretty loose on set, just let everyone have fun."
Some of the scenes shot for the clip have provoked criticism, such as the one where kids huff steamed booze through a gas mask. "There was definitely stunt booze, for sure. A lot of the stuff is pretty ridiculous," Rojas laughed to MTV. "Like, you know how espresso machines have the steam wand to do the espresso? I've had this idea for a while, and I've always wanted to do it where you put some sort of alcoholic liquid in there. It's such a totally ridiculous idea, like, it would never work, but I always thought it would be funny for kids to try and do weird drugs, just out of desperation."
White told UK newspaper The Sun that he played the song to his daughter the day after she'd asked her dad for '16 saltine crackers.' " I said, 'Listen I wrote a song for you,'" he recalled, "and I played it back for her. She blushed and turned away. The next time I played the song for her, she said, 'Yeah I never said that!'"
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