Icky Thump (4:17)

Cover of Icky Thump

From Icky Thump and 10 other releases

“Icky Thump” is a Grammy Award-winning song recorded by the American alternative rock band The White Stripes. Written by Jack White, it is the first single released from Icky Thump.

The name of the track comes from the Northern England exclamation “Ecky Thump,” roughly meaning “what the heck?” The title was then changed to “Icky” so that “teenagers would understand it better back in America,” in the same way Led Zeppelin took out the “a” so Americans wouldn’t call them ‘Lead Zeppelin’ (pronounced ‘leed’)” . The phrase was popularized in an episode of The Goodies.

Though grounded to a greater degree than the Get Behind Me Satan singles in straightforward garage rock, the song differed radically from previous White Stripes singles in its unusual construction: angular tempo-changes, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and chaotic improvised snake-charming solos, played on a Univox synthesizer.

The song deals with the topic of immigration [7]. The song itself seems to criticize the current immigration policy, something seen also in the video. It is thus the first political White Stripes track since “The Big Three Killed My Baby,” off The White Stripes.

The lyrics talk about someone (perhaps Jack White himself) taking a trip to Mexico in a wagon, easily crossing the border to Mexico, as opposed to the difficulties Mexican immigrants face while illegally crossing northwards. It then mentions a Mexican lady giving him a bed to sleep in, then tying him up and holding him hostage. When finally able to escape, White decides to start doing his own house chores (referring, most likely, to the hiring of illegal immigrants as very low paid house servants).

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