Jack White loves Record Store Day.
Every year, his label Third Man Records releases an assortment of rarities: re-pressings, one-off singles, novelty curios, and other odd things to delight collectors and die-hard audiophiles. Creaky, tangible products for lovers of music and tradition.
November 24 is Record Store Day Black Friday, a spin-off from the original April day ‘cos why not?, and Jack White and Third Man Records are unleashing their weirdest release to date – a custom pair of Beats headphones.
They look shiny, sleek, and futuristic: three terms never levelled at White or his past output.
It is an aggressively digital product, standing out among the other dust-covered Third Man items with a level of anachronistic discomfort on par with this photo of Don Draper using an iPhone.
The headphones include the Third Man black and yellow colour scheme, logo, and other insignia, but — other than this — there is nothing linking these headphones to the world Jack White has so obsessively created over the years.
“We tried to refrain from just throwing the logo on something,” Third Man co-founder Ben Blackwell told Billboard, but that’s exactly what’s been done. In 2010, Third Man released a limited-edition pair of headphones through Nixon, but these were a stylistic match, looking like they belong wrapped around a Walkman, rather than as a neck accessory.
Early in his career, White wouldn’t sign with a label because they refused to allow him to adapt their label logo to fit his red, black, and white colour scheme. That’s an obsession with an image, with a design motif. These headphones are the first instance of his tight level of curation slipping.
Maybe Jack finally looked up from his dusty acetate collection and realised it was time to move from the past into the future.