BOOK REVIEW: We’re Going to Be Friends by Jack White

If there was ever going to be a The White Stripes songs adapted into an animated book, one would have expected it to have been “Seven Nation Army”. The case is resolute. “Seven Nation Army” has been described as “the World’s Most Recognizable Song” having the “Most Ubiquitous Riff Since “(The Rolling Stones) “Satisfaction”. In 2016 “Seven Nation Army” was voted number six in a poll of Detroit’s one hundred great songs, something that must have made the Detroit duo look back on their career with melancholy. As well as being “one of the things I (Jack White) am most proud of being a part of”; Seven Nation Army has become an internationally celebrated football anthem.

“Legend has it that it all started in a Milan bar in 2003 when visiting Club Brugge fans, in town for a matchup against A.C. Milan, started chanting along to the song; then at home, the Belgian team began playing the song every time they scored. When Brugge later hosted a UEFA Cup match against A.S. Roma in 2006, the Italian team won, and their fans began singing the song to taunt their Belgian rivals — in the process bringing the song back to Italy.” The song (known in Italy as “the Po po po po po po song”) became the unofficial anthem of Italy’s World Cup win in 2006 and was used in Euro 2008 when teams walked onto the field. “Fans of Scotland’s Falkirk club added the words, “We’re the navy blue army” to the melody.” Oldham, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday are also known to have made their own play on the words too.

Where is this going? Is Xs Noize hinting that the wrong The White Stripes song was adapted into a children’s book suitable for all ages? Absolutely not! “We’re Going to Be Friends”, a song about the innocent playful friendships made in the early days of school is something any reader can relate to and look back on with halcyon elation. This song is just as popular and as poignant as “Seven Nation Army”, albeit for different reasons. “We’re going to Be Friends” featured in the 2004 movie Napoleon Dynamite, in the opening sequence which helped make “We’re Going to Be Friends” “one of the most-downloaded songs in the White Stripes canon.” More recently “We’re Going to Be Friends” was featured in the 2017 film Wonder. Many artists have covered it including Jack Johnson for the soundtrack of the 2006 film Curious George.

“We’re Going to Be Friends”, beautifully illustrated by Elinor Blake takes you through an ideal bygone childhood era and a utopic America via a donkey library; Betty Boop clocks; the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland; Walt Whitman’s School House and Baseball using black and white sketching’s with a hint of signature The White Stripes red. The Disney trained Elinor Blake uses a unique style of illustration comparable to the innovative masterpieces in the 1941 animated film Mr. Bug (Hoppity) Goes to Town and to those which featured in Adrian Tomine’s sleeve illustrations of the Eels, Daisies of the Galaxy LP, released in 2000.

It is mesmerising how a 32-page hardcover children’s novel with less than 250 words can contain so much, demand so much of your time, emotions and prompt trips down memory lane as one would expect a full-length adult graphic novel to do. If that wasn’t enough “We’re Going to Be Friends” also contains a four-track download with new versions of the song including a version with The Woodstation Elementary School Singers. Third Man Books have published a truly heartfelt gem of innocence, peace and happiness we’re all naturally going to be lifelong friends with.

“We’re Going to Be Friends” is available to buy via https://thirdmanstore.com/catalog/product/view/id/3333/s/we-re-going-to-be-friends/