Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn

Album: Icky Thump (2007)

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about the thistle, which is the national flower of Scotland. Jack and Meg White are both of Scottish descent, and the song is a celebration of their heritage. Jack explained in Rolling Stone, "Through Nova Scotia, a lot of Scottish families moved to Detroit to work at the car factories. I hope Scottish people take this song as my gift to them."
  • In 2007, Jack White explained to Mojo magazine how this song addresses his heritage: "My family's Scottish partly, and Polish. On the last tour, I celebrated my 30th birthday in Poland, a hundred years after my grandmother came to America. There were crowds singing 'Happy Birthday' to me in Polish, which is what we do in my family. Half of my family were Polish Catholics. They're good people. My brothers are barrel-chested, ass-kicking lumberjack types. I'm on the lighter side of that. They're men's men. Family is the most important thing. I told my sisters recently there's a tiny part of my brain that, despite all logic, thinks one day we're all going to get back and live in the same house together, all 10 of us... that this is all just temporary, even though I know those days are gone. The word 'home', in my lyrics, unconsciously comes up all the time. Working on Get Behind Me Satan, I think I hit it to the absolute breaking point with the idea of home, the real home. I'd come to the conclusion that it had gone and what was my supposed, constructed new home was also shattering."
  • This track features bagpipes, a Scottish instrumentation. Jack White explained to GQ magazine (2007): "Bagpipes are due a revival. They a very somber instrument, very beautiful in the right context." For this, White enlisted the help of a 52-year-old, London-born, Tennessee-based bagpiper, Jim Drury.

    Drury, Pipe Major of the Tennessee Scots Pipe Band, told the magazine: "You don't do well in Nashville unless you're a good guy. You have to have social graces. I'd never met Jack (White) before so I didn't know what to expect. But I'd heard stories, y'know? I was impressed by how musical he was and how agreeable he was to changing things on the fly. We spent three hours together and had a nice conversation in the engineer booth. We're kinda similar because my family is in Neasden and his wife is from England, so we had a conversation about that."
  • Jack also plays the mandolin on this, which he learned to play a few years earlier. He told Guitar World: "I started playing mandolin right before I did the film Cold Mountain. I wanted to buy the one I used in the film. I signed something saying I'd buy it, but they auctioned it off instead. So I went and bought a really nice one, a Gibson F4. I really love the mandolin. It's a different world from guitar. I love bluegrass music." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 3

Comments: 3

  • Tinachris from Morro Bay, CaThere has not been one time when this beautiful song does not make me instantly happy. Even if it is just for a moment. Sometimes I am deep in thought with this tune, others just doing my own version of a jig! :)
  • Maddie from Arlington, VaI love how this song is so different from other rock songs. Its my favorite song from the White Stripes. It also kind of reminds my of Led Zeppelin
  • Gloria from Fallbrook, CaPersonally, this is my favorite song off of the Icky Thump album. It can always cheer me up. :)
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