As stated by Josh Eells from the NY Times “Jack White is the coolest, weirdest, savviest rock star of our time.” And as stated by amateur blogger Brianna Hope, “Conan O’Brien is the coolest, weirdest, savviest comedy star of our time.” That said, it only makes sense that the two would be BFF’s.
I stumbled across this video yesterday of Jack White performing with Conan on the premiere of his TBS show, and in addition to being a good performance, it brought back a lot of memories of the time when I was lucky enough to work for Conan at NBC.
From the humble point of view of my small role on the show, music was a HUGE part of Late Night. Conan is a lover of music. He has a great group of bookers that bring on some really sweet acts and has given countless, now crazy famous bands their first TV spot. If you saw his theatre tour a couple years ago or decided to watch the video above, you know that Conan is an accomplished guitar player and can carry a tune as well. And after watching many episodes of his show, I feel like you can really see him at his nerdiest when watching a band rock it out. And then he’s even nerdier than that when he gets around Jack White.
For whatever reason, I didn’t know until reading Eells’s article (linked above) that when the White Stripes performed on the last episode of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, they were no longer a band. Jack and Meg reunited as a favor to Conan and my luck continued as I got to watch it in the studio. I know this is trite, but it really was magical to see just how touched Conan was during this performance and it perfectly encapsulated the importance of that moment. The mutual love and respect was palpable and was the perfect sign off for the show. It seems NBC has taken down all the videos but you can find audio of the White Stripes on Conan over at Stereogum.
Based on interviews I’ve read, it seems like Jack White does everything on his own terms. He owns all the masters of his music, carefully crafts the aesthetics of his red and white world, and says his whole motivation with the White Stripes was to trick people into liking the music he loves. I can only imagine that this contributes to his affection for Conan as he’s the same type of guy. He carried on the tradition of Letterman and with an incredible team of people crafted a TV show that didn’t really follow the rules and continually takes risks comedically and otherwise. And when it all comes down to it, I am really glad Jack and Conan are friends as we’ve gotten to see a lot of killer performances that are a result of their regard for one another. Hopefully this will continue as Jack releases his newest album, Blunderbuss, next week. I’ve already set my DVR.