The title of the song originates from what Jack White thought the Salvation Army was called when he was a child. White will often take a distinctive phrase he finds interesting and use it as the title of a song - "Rag And Bone
" is another good example.
This song deals with The White Stripes' rising popularity and the negatives that came with it. After White came up with the riff, he devised a storyline in which a protagonist comes into town and all his friends are gossiping about him. "He feels so bad he has to leave town, but you get so lonely you come back," said White. "The song's about gossip. It's about me, Meg and the people we're dating."
The White Stripes have no bass player, so the popular riff is actually a guitar with an octave effect to sound like a bass.
The video, while novel and cleverly directed, has gained a reputation as one of the most effective motion-sickness-inducing devices since the invention of spinning carnival rides. (thanks, Dennis - Toledo, OH, for all above)
The Salvation Army has featured in a number of songs, the best known being The Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever
, which is about a Salvation Army home in Liverpool where John Lennon used to go. Two UK hit singles from the 1970s, Long Live Love
by Olivia Newton-John, and Banner Man by Blue Mink featured the church organisation as a central theme. Amongst the songs The Salvation Army has cropped up in as an incidental motif are Life In a Northern Town
by The Dream Academy and Leonard Cohen's Suzanne
Jack White once said that the main riff was the riff he planned to use if they ever got asked to write the theme to the next James Bond film. He decided it was unlikely and used it in this. (thanks, Simon - Salisbury, England)
On the album, it states: "No computers were used during the writing, recording, mixing or mastering of this record."
in the video when Jack White points to his hand as he begins the third verse, he's showing you where he is from. The state of Michigan is shaped like a mitten and people in the state often point to a spot on their hand when asked where they are from. (thanks, Angelo - Detroit, MI)
Artist to cover this song include Audioslave, The Hives, Metallica, The Flaming Lips, Joss Stone and Jamie Cullum.
Italian soccer fans latched onto this song as their national team played to victory in the 2006 World Cup. Fans would often chant the guitar riff at games and victory celebrations, and the song re-entered the Italian charts as a result, hitting #3. To win the World Cup, Italy had to defeat 7 different nations.
White was delighted: "Nothing is more beautiful in music than when people embrace a melody and allow it to enter the pantheon of folk music," he said. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2)
This, along with the rest of the album, was recorded on analogue equipment that was over 50 years old at Toe Rag Studios. Toe Rag Studios were set up in Hackney, east London in 1991 as a strictly analogue enterprise using only pre-1960 studio equipment. The success of Elephant established Toe Rag as a trendy antidote to digital music-making.
US website Consequence of Sound
named this as their top rock track of the noughties. Their explanation: "Remains as vibrant and as popular today as it did in 2003, resonating on a daily basis from record players and football stadiums alike. And like any rock'n'roll anthem, White's should continue to be equally vibrant and as popular for an eternity to come."
The riff was composed at a sound check before a show at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne, Australia. Jack White recalled to Rolling Stone: "There's an employee here at Third Man named Ben Swank, and he was with us on tour in Australia when I wrote that song at soundcheck. I was playing it for Meg and he was walking by and I said, 'Swank, check this riff out.' And he said, 'It's OK.' [Laughs] He added: "I didn't have lyrics for it until later on and I was just calling it 'Seven Nation Army' - that's what I called the Salvation Army when I was a kid. So that was just a way for me to remember which one I was talking about, but it took on a new meaning with the lyrics."
According to Jack White, neither the labels in America or in the UK wanted to put this out as the first single. They eventually relented and it became the White Stripes' first Hot 100 hit in the US and Top 10 entry in Britain. In an interview with XFM, White said: "I can think back to when Elephant came out. I wanted to put 'Seven Nation Army' out as a single. The label in England and the label in America both didn't want to. They wanted to put 'There's No Home For You Here' [out], can you imagine not putting 'Seven Nation Army' out as a single?"
The Soul-Pop singer Marcus Collins released this song as his debut single on March 4, 2012. Collins first entered the music business when he replaced Anthony Hannah in the boyband Eton Road, following their exit from the third series of The X Factor
. Collins remained with the five-piece for ten months, initially to pursue a solo career, before moving back to his hometown of Liverpool, where he got a job as a hairdresser. In 2011, Collins auditioned as a solo artist for the eighth series of The X Factor
, eventually finishing as runner-up to girlband Little Mix. After the final he signed a record deal with RCA Records, and released this song. Collins' self-titled debut album was executive produced by Gary Barlow, who was the singer's mentor on X Factor
Collins' more soulful arrangement is based on the version recorded by French singer-songwriter Ben l'Oncle Soul in 2010.
The song debuted at #9 on the UK singles chart. It was not the first White Stripes track to be covered as a Pop-Soul offering and made into a UK hit. Their 2002 single "Fell in Love With A Girl
" was reworked by Joss Stone as "Fell In Love With A Boy" for her debut single, which peaked at #18 in 2004.
The song is very popular in European football stadia. Around the UK, fans sing different words to the riff. In Falkirk it's "We're the navy blue army,'' whilst in Oldham they chant the less imaginative "We're following Oldham." Meanwhile in Germany, every time Bayern Munich score, a remixed version of the song is played.
In keeping with the seven (7) figure that is a distinctive, distinguishing and essential characteristic of this track, the riff consists of seven notes that are repeated in the same order throughout the song. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)