By Stephen Thompson, NPR
This week’s Saturday Night Live musical guest was supposed to be Morgan Wallen, before the country singer got himself disinvited. On Friday morning, SNL creator Lorne Michaels announced that Jack White — whose best-known band, The White Stripes, releases a greatest-hits album in December — would show up to perform in Wallen’s place.
Though we’re only two episodes into Season 46, it’s hard to imagine that White’s turn won’t come out near the top when it’s time to rank SNL‘s 2020-21 musical guests. Unencumbered by new material to promote, White cranked out a few scorching career highlights, including 2014’s solo hit “Lazaretto” — which he performed with a guitar designed for him by the late Eddie Van Halen — and uncorked a fantastic medley.
That medley fused unexpected pieces in remarkable ways, kicking off with “Don’t Hurt Yourself” — the song he co-wrote and performed on Beyoncé‘s Lemonade — before shifting into a version of The White Stripes’ “Ball and Biscuit” that incorporated lyrics from Blind Willie Johnson’s “Jesus Is Coming Soon.” So, on two days’ notice, we got an Eddie Van Halen tribute, Beyoncé, The White Stripes, a Jack White solo song and Blind Willie Johnson. Not bad!
To watch the performances, click HERE
Jack White’s Instagram reflections on the SNL performance: “I thought it could be a nice gesture for me to use this blue Eddie Van Halen model guitar for one of the songs tonight on SNL. The guitar was designed by Eddie (with a few customizations I had added). Eddie was very kind to me and saw to it that this guitar was made for me to my specs. I wont even insult the man’s talent by trying to play one of his songs tonight. Thanks again, Eddie, for this guitar and rest in peace, sir.”