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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 016
Fri, Feb 1st, 2013

“I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”
White Stripes

2003

“♫ I
just don’t
know what
to do with
myself
♫”

I can’t get seem to get “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” out of my head. It’s a theme song for me, when I’m feeling restless, I usually thrown on some music, White Stripes was the first song that came on and “I Just Don’t Know “ sparked some lines; music and writing always calms my worried mind.

Did you know it was Meg White’s idea to cover Bert Bacharach and Hal David’s “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” as she explained when she said, “I decided to do to do that one? Like, maybe two years ago, I listened to the Dusty Springfield version of it, and I could just kind of hear us doing that song in my head. It was a really emotional song that I just felt very close to, so we started doing it at that point, and we were doing it live for a couple of years.”

Jack took Meg’s suggestion and together The White Stripes inhabited the essence of Burt Bacharach’s song as Jack discussed when he said, “That was Meg’s baby. Definitely Dusty’s version. I think one of the best recordings we’ve made. I like me singing on this. It’s mellowed. We started to play it live and started to make it our own. I like the idea of keeping someone’s songs alive for the next generation if we can.”

The amazing thing about “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With My Self,” is that Jack and Meg made Burt’s original their own. It’s no surprise, Jack was no novice of Bacharach’s songbook when he said, and “I really love [Burt Bacharach] I love his songwriting. With this particular song, Meg was fond of it and wanted us to do it, and we started to do it live. I love it because I started recognizing that it was really a blues song in its purest form, when you strip down the Bacharach production. The essence of the song was blues, so I really adapted to that.”

When Elephant was first released I always imagined a “Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground” like video for “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With My Self,” but what White Stripes fans received was a clip that was a little more titillating. You would be seriously mistaken if you thought Jack White’s dirty mind came up with the video idea for “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With My Self,” as Lost in Translation and Virgin Suicides film director Sofia Coppola explained when he said, “I said, ‘I don’t know — how about Kate Moss doing a pole dance? I said that because I would like to see it. That’s the way I work: I try to imagine what I would like to see.”

From Coppola’s imagination came Sofia’s idea to have Kate Moss pole dancing to “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself.” But Sofia was cautious of not trying to make her idea of a White Stripes video too explicit when she said, “I’m self-conscious about that shot.’I know we’re making a sexy video, but it’s sort of brave not to show too much. We want it to be a little Fosse, but I also want it to have that weird Factory feel.”

Jack and Meg White’s cover of Bert Bacharach and Hal David’s vintage cut is a modern day classic. The White Stripes version is so addicting I dare you to play “I Just Don’t Know,” only once. While I ponder the infinite complexities of Sofia Coppola’s visual interpretation of White Stripes rendition, I’ll treat myself to a few spins of “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself.” Let lady inspiration spark me again…I am ready.

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