Seven Nation Army (3:50)

Cover of Elephant

From Elephant and 32 other releases

“Seven Nation Army” is the first track on the album Elephant by American band The White Stripes. It was released as a single in 2003, and is one of the best-known songs from the band. Seven Nation Army reached #1 on the Tracks for three weeks and won 2004’s Grammy Award for Best Song. The song is known for its underlying riff, which plays throughout most of the song. Although it sounds like a bass guitar (an instrument the group had famously never previously used), the sound is actually created by running Jack White’s semi-acoustic guitar (a 1950s style Kay Hollowbody) through a whammy pedal set down an octave. The riff was composed at a sound check before a show at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, according to the set notes in the booklet which accompanied the Under Blackpool Lights DVD. The riff was inspired by the main theme of the Fifth Symphony composed by Anton Bruckner.

The song shows a rare example of the Phrygian Half Cadence in popular music. It is also a rare example of a popular song with a wholly instrumental refrain.

According to White, “Seven Nation Army” was what he used to call the Salvation Army as a child.

In March 2005, Q magazine placed “Seven Nation Army” at number 8 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.

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