When they were running the world, the White Stripes had a fruitful working collaboration with Michel Gondry, arguably the single greatest music-video director in history. Gondry directed the White Stripes’ videos for “Dead Leaves On The Dirty Ground,” “Fell In Love With A Girl,” “The Hardest Button To Button,” and “The Denial Twist.” And now he’s got another one to his name. On Friday, Jack White released the new archival collection Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016. And today, in what was reportedly a complete surprise to White, Gondry has given him a new video for the White Stripes’ previously unreleased “City Lights.” The new video is an extremely simple affair. It’s a five-minute shot of a steamed-up glass shower wall, and we watch from the other side as an unseen artist draws things in the steam. This is a long way away from being the best Gondry/White Stripes collaboration, but these two always had a very specific sense of whimsy together, and it’s very cool to see that whimsy suddenly reemerge in any form. Check out the video below.
Story time: 11 years ago, I was part of the last Gondry/White Stripes collaboration. I’m in the surreal single-take video for “The Denial Twist,” playing the elongated, stretched-out version of Conan O’Brien. I’d interviewed Gondry a couple of months before, and he told me that he got the idea for the video because he thought I looked like an elongated, stretched-out Conan O’Brien. (This should give you some idea how tall I am.) Being in the video, playing however minor a role in it, was a total thrill, and I wrote about it here and here. (Jack White was extremely pissed off about the fact that I wrote about the video immediately after it was filmed, but it’s not like anyone told me not to do it.) Here’s that video: