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Seven Nation Army

by

The White Stripes



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

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)
The White Stripes
The White Stripes Artistfacts
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More songs commonly played at sporting events

Comments (59):

Back in 2003 when Seven Nation Army was released, I was 7 years old. I still love the song. My oldest brother bought "Elephant" in 2003 and I learned the song from it. In the ten years since then, I still hear it played on some alternative rock radio stations here in Oklahoma and even in northwest Arkansas. It's still so cool. Now, Jack White has released a new CD called "Lazaretto" but I haven't heard or bought it yet. Also, I know that Songfacts lists the song as peaking at #76 according to Billboard, but on the Billboard site they have it listed on their Modern Rock charts for 2003 as a #1 hit. So why not show that on your "facts" as well? A lot of kids look to the Modern Rock charts too nowadays.
- Rocky, TULSA, OK
Gotta say I love this song and have for years. It's just got a great feel and beat to it. Brings back good memories of high school too. When their album "Elephant" came out, my cousin Juicy got it then I did too. Like that screwy broad from Memphis, Bubbles K, I'm nuts about the White Stripes, but I think they done folded. And just like "Bubbles K" - I'm a goin' to Wichita!
- Rocky, Fort Smith, AR
Oooweee! I loved this song when it came out in the early 2000's and I love it now. "I'm going to Wichita..." Until I read it on SongFacts, I didn't know the band didn't use a bass guitar in the recording. This song is magnetic---the drums, guitar, lyrics, & Jack's vocals all draw you into the song. That's why I am nuts over The White Stripes' music. Gotta have more. "I'm going to Wichita........!!!"
- BubblesK, Memphis, TN
The soccer team I root here in my hometown, Porto Alegre (Brazil), also uses the riff in an anthem sung by the team fans during the matches. The color of the shirts are red and white, just like everything about the White Stripes, and the anthem consists in the repetition of the words "rolo compressor" (i.e. road roller), nickname of the team during the 70's, when they had great victories.
- Ariadne, Porto Alegre, Brazil
The really funny thing is, he said he planned to use this as the next James Bond theme, but abandoned the idea and released the song. Jack White wrote the James Bond theme for Quantum of Solace. :D
- CJ, Oak Creek, WI
I love everything there is about this song! I love how its just the guitar, then the drums, then jack....Amazing!! Best song they ever made!
- Megan, Stevenson, AL
Yeah, i agree with Will, beginners made it drop their popularity big time, but still, all in all a very good song for just two musicians...
- Brandon, west columbia, SC
jack whits is half a gooda lyrically a bob dylan but twice a gooda music writer and then with the guitar Bob Dylan doesn't stand a chance so in my opinion jack white is better the bob dylan.i dont think i can give any bigger compliment
- johua, sydney, Australia
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)

ACTUALLY, the BOTTOM HALF of Michigan is like a mitten...don't forget the Upper Peninsula: aka the Yoop! :-P
- JanDuran, Slipknot, IA
My band coverd this song and its so fun to sing, jack has so much dramma in his voice!

and Josef, Corpus Christi, TX i totaly agree with you!
- Nick, Seattle, Albania
You wanna hear something really weird, listen to The Oak Ridge Boys version of this song. They are usually Country/Gospel, so this song is WAYYY out for them but they rock it...
- Bobbie, Phoenix, AZ
the white stripes drummer is HOTT!!! this is a good song but "Get behind me satan" is a hell of a lot better
- nathan ritz, marengo , IN
hah, the James Bond thing made me laugh. He just did "Another Way to Die" with Alecia Keys. :)
- Alex, Hometown, PA
To Dylan: It's Open A tuning, but if you don't have an octave pedal and you want to play the verse without a bass, you have to tune the bottom string to a B.
- Alan, Iowa, IA
i wonder if the ppl who dis this song for being "too easy to play" also think Wish You Were Here by PF is unimpressive
- trent, ft. lauderdale, FL
@ Dylan: White uses a Digitech WHAMMY IV pedal. Only pedal that allows you to play parts that you would otherwise need a bass for.
- Al, Sudbury, ON
The first time I heard this song was during my school's remake of Romeo and Juliet. The first thought that popped in my head was 'Why have I never heard this before?!?' It is a freakishly amazing song. Not the best I've hered, mind you, but pretty darn good. For those of you who say you can do better or that it's too simple, that's too bad. They made it first. They get the credit. They rock. :)
- Isabelle, St. Paul, MN
I almost forgot. does anyone know what effects pedal he uses
- Dylan, Clinton, IN
This song is great. Does anyone know what the tuning is? I think it is rele weird?
- Dylan, Clinton, IN
This is an awesome song, and the music video is awesome.
- /Alix\, Pinkerton, MI
Hey, white stripes have a chick drummer. Meg White
- Dan, Mexico, MO
song + video = hypnotic.
- Rebekah :), Knoxville, TN
amazing song. first song i learned when iwas working with power chords. the slide from frets 7-10 made it difficult but not super hard
- Kiran, Shelton, CT
so my boyfriend and his band do this song, and omg they are so amazing, my bf sings and im not even gonna lie i think they may do it better than the white stripes. hate me if u will but seriously. just had to throw that out there. AWESOME AMAZING AND ENTHRALLING SONG, basically.
- Denise, Nisland, SD
first song i learned on guitar i love it
- jeeves, dc, DC
This song has become like a second national anthem for italians. after a soccer match, totti sang the opening riff, and ever since then, it has become a crazy overly used cheer. unfortunatly i don't think the white stripes don't get much credit for it, oh well.
- kika, nyc, NY
I don't think you can judge a song by the way its made, or a musician by the notes they can play. It's about the way it sounds. If you cant write a good song than wheres the good in being able to play one? This song is simple and catchy.
- Jeef, San Francisco, CA
People say Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" sucks based only on the guitar riff being copied by beginning guitarists. I think it makes the riff that much better: because there are people who WANT to copy it. If it's so easy and stupid, why would you imitate it?
It's easy to imitate a mime, but would you want to? No. If you find something easy to imitate that people will WANT to imitate, you've struck gold.
- Thomas, Suisun City, CA
You know what else is funny? Some people say what a joke this song is due to its easy riff. Well, if a song is judged solely on the difficulty of the guitar riff than I would love to hear some of your guys music, see if it's hit material. Just because it's simple to play doesn't mean it's not a great song. I shouldn't have to list all the songs that are good, with a simple riff.
- Jon, Oakridge, OR
I disregard all Rolling Stones. Just like I do all Grammys and Academy Awards and so forth. Take a look at some of their lists and who's on them. Who's recieved awards and who hasn't. It's a F*#$ing JOKE.
- Jon, Oakridge, OR
The reason he is a guitar god is han can write the stuff. My brother can play just like any of these also great guitar players but he can't write catchy riffs. Jack white just like keith richards love music so much the right catchy riffs and thats why they were high on the list
- charlie, fort wayne, IN
I like The Flaming Lips cover of this song...All should give it a listen.
- Josef, Corpus Christi, TX
Jack whites inability to show off as a guitar god shouldn't be a reason to persecute him as a top musician as many put him up to be. Come on people even the man himself doesn't consider to be the guitar god like many say. It's not about how good you can play, anybody with money and time can learn how to play like Yngwie Malmsteen, but rather it's about how much passion you have as a musician, and how much creativity you have as well. Not everybody can create a simple riff and make it so friggin rock like he does... Try it and I then I'll believe you...
- Josef, Corpus Christi, TX
Angus Young he knows how to play like for chords
- Dan, Lee, NH
i agree with Derek, there is no way that Jack White is a better player than Eddie Van Halen or Angus Young, and as a matter of fact, i don't like that list at all, i get rolling stone, but i mean, they could've made it right.
- Bill, Dallas, TX
meg white is acutally a robot
- tom, brisbane, Australia
i love this song, no one can ever forget its beat or its lyrics! :P
- Tasha, London, England
"no better than the average guitar player" ?!... do you even play guitar? have a watch of the Under Blackpool Lights DVD and watch him play death letter where jacks prowess is evident... if you still doubt me... jack will be appearing with jimmy page for guitar world magazine feature in february.
- Daniel, Edinburgh, England
Good song, but Jack White is no better then an average guitar player and it was laughable that he made it anywhere near the Rolling Stone's top 100 list. Good song average players. I couldn't believe the people he was placed ahead of, it made the entire list a joke!
- Derek, Brampton, Canada
The beginner guitarists only add to the song. Their poor, off-key covers make "Seven Nation Army" sound even better! What's more, I love the fact that there was a time when if you couldn't play the riff, it was probably because you had never picked up a guitar in your life!
- rozzy, Toronto, Canada
The biginner guitarists only add to the song. Their poor, off-key covers make "Seven Nation Army" sound even better! What's more, I love the fact that there was a time when if you couldn't play the riff, it was probably because you had never picked up a guitar in your life!
- rozzy, Toronto, Canada
I love the video. Does it remind anyone else of the psychadelic boat from the original Willy Wonka?
- Bert, Pueblo, NM
I love the riff! But why aren't more people posting on White Stripe's songs?
- Dan, Lee, NH
What a riff
- Danny, Sydney, Australia
and 'girl, you have no faith in medichine' does rock fooking hard at the end of elephant album. oh yeh and im seeing them on Nov 5th, at hammersmith apollo, and i no ur jelous!!! :)
- Matt, london, England
This is to jake from sydney, it doesnt still sound awsome even though it was recorded reel to reel, it is awsome because its recorded reel to reel!! but as you know it sounds awsome i'll let you off.
- Matt, london, England
It's Good, But "Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine" is their best song.
- Ryan, Fullerton, CA
i dont see why any one wouldn't like this song it rocks all earth and underworlds
- Todd, Salisbury, MD
covered by audioslave, metallica, flaming lips and many others
- alejandro, Mexico D.F., Mexico
The White Stripes have such great guitar riffs
- Ashley, Moncton, Canada
That video drives me to drink! Good song.
- Chase, Pasadena, CA
the album was recorded on old eight track reel to reel, but it still sounds bloody awesome. top record.
- Jake, Sydney, Australia
elephant is a brilliant record, using the old school tech. it's still ahead of its time.
- bizgotti, TORONTO, Canada
well beginner guitarists have to play to will!!!!
- Nathan, ohsweken, Canada
I found the first fact about this song quite amusing because my best mate actually thought the lyrics to the song were "a salvation army couldn't hold me back." Whenever I listen to the song now I get these images in my head of dozens of old men with walking sticks trying to keep Jack White at bay!!
- Leona, Edinburgh, Scotland
Not quite half a century, but it was all 40 years old, every single piece of it!!!!
- fungus, here, Scotland
I heard that they recorded this entire album on equipment that was over a half-century old.
- Chris, Philadelphia, PA
Will from Portland ic Correct great song ruined by beginer guitarists like myself its just too easy to play
- Jonathan Horgan, Cork, Ireland
this song is good, but beginner guitarists ruined the opening riff! And it was such a good riff too
- Will, Portland, OR
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