High Ball Stepper

Album: Lazaretto (2014)

Songfacts®:

  • This minimalist instrumental track combines Ruby Amanfu's wordless vocals with Lillie Mae Riche's fiddle. White explained his less-is-more decision was a result of a lesson that he learned in the White Stripes. "Meg's kick drum was the bass guitar," he told Rolling Stone. "Take a song like 'Psycho Killer' by Talking Heads. Bum bum bum bum bum bum buh-buh-bum… that could just as easily be a drum beat. When I realized that was going on in the White Stripes, that relieved a lot of structural worry for me as a songwriter."
  • White recalled the story of the song to NPR: "We had a day off in touring, and I wanted to get some stuff on tape," he said. "This was an idea I had had before we started playing in the studio - I gave this steel guitar player, Maggie Björklund, a 'backwards pedal' that takes whatever you put into it and plays it backwards. I thought, 'Well, what happens if you play steel guitar into a backwards pedal like that?' She was messing around with it, and by the time she had done that, Lillie Mae was tuning up … and she made some sound effect while she was tuning up, and it sounded something like [makes screeching sound]."

    "I was playing a guitar, and I kept thinking of that little phrase," White continued. "So I asked her and Ruby [Amanfu], the vocalist, to make that sound effect together while we were playing this song, and so it became something very grandiose, very fast."
  • A famous advocate of analog technologies, White had to use Pro Tools to make the song work. He told Rolling Stone that it was the result of three different live performances that he edited together afterwards. "Some of it I could edit on tape, but some of it, I had to print it to computer, edit it in Pro Tools, and print it back to tape, to make the edits work," White said. "I've done that in the past." "I've still never mixed and recorded an album in Pro Tools," he added. "I can't bring myself to live in that world."

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