Week 121: “We’re Going To Be Friends” by The White Stripes

The playground at my elementary school was enormous. Two horseshoe-shaped hills, connected by bridges, encircled massive play structures, one of which was four stories high. There was a giant pyramid made of tires. There were tire swings on chains that were perfect for vomit-inducing orbits. There was a huge orange slide that was lightning fast.

Years after I had graduated, home for the summer and exploring childhood haunts, I discovered that the playground was gone. In its place were some trees, some sad-looking safety swings, and a dog looking for somewhere to pee. There were no children anywhere. I was horrified by the scene, and my mind went through all the standard “things-aren’t-what-they-used-to-be” complaints usually reserved for old men sitting on porches with their pants hiked way up.

But just recently I went back a second time and tried to be as objective as possible when comparing the new playground to my memories. On this visit, the new playground was full of kids, playing and laughing and having as much fun as I’d ever had on the same spot. They hid behind the trees, played tag on the grass, and had even figured out a way to get the safety swings to induce vomiting.

Was my childhood playground really that good? I’m not sure it was four stories after all…it may have only been three. The tire pyramid had a permanent smell of urine to it that I might have been blocking from my memory. And sure, the orange slide was lightning fast, but only until your skin touched it, at which point you came to an instant, squeaky, and painful stop.

I’ve decided to stop complaining about how things aren’t the way they used to be. They never are. Deal with it. And I’m sure that one day the playground will be changed again, at which point the kids I saw on my return visit will be grown up and lamenting the loss of the incredible forest of wonders that they grew up with.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The tapping foot. Perfectly paced for walking.

2. The imperfect guitar playing. He mis-plucks the strings, and he speeds up. But not being a great guitarist is part of what makes Jack White a great guitarist.

3. The way the last line of each verse is repeated. It makes the statement “I can tell that we are going to be friends” sound less sure of itself, as if repeating it will make it happen.

Recommended listening activity:

Sharpening pencils.

Buy it here.