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Hotel Yorba by The White Stripes

The other day I was out test driving a jet black, 1957 Ford Thunderbird and wanted to get a feel for the quality of its speaker system. As I played some of my favorite songs through the custom Bluetooth connection, one song stood out among the rest: a 2001 charmer by The White Stripes called “Hotel Yorba”. As the day went on, I found myself repeatedly listening to all two minutes and ten seconds of the upbeat foot stomper. Marveling over the staying power of this two-decades-old hit, I felt the irresistible urge to write about it. So, without further ado, let's dig into a song by a band that helped define rock-n-roll in the early 2000s and continues to inspire us to this day.

Jack White gets things started with some brief noodling on a rare vintage acoustic guitar made by Gibson during World War I called the Army Navy Special. After plucking away for a few moments, Jack is joined by Meg White with a stomping drum beat composed of kick drum, floor tom, and snare. Along with Meg’s drum beat, Jack begins belting out the first verse beginning with the lines, “I was watching / With one eye on the other side / I had fifteen people tellin' me to move / I got movin' on my mind”. Limited to a single guitar, drums, and vocals, the verses of “Hotel Yorba” rely on clever lyrics, catchy melodies, and minimalist charm to pull the listener in.

For the chorus the band increases the energy with flurries of lyrics delivered on every downbeat of the first four measures. Each blast of words is followed by a pause which is then followed by the song’s central lyrical hook, “All they got inside is vacancy”. Additional lift is added to the chorus section by way of Meg White’s charming vocal harmony further supporting the song's down-home feeling. A final energetic touch is added by Meg as she smashes away at the crash cymbal throughout the chorus.

After a couple of verse and chorus sections, Jack and Meg mix things up a little with some musical variation for the third verse. Here we hear simple and hushed strums of the acoustic guitar delivered at the top of each measure. Additionally, gentle taps on the ride cymbal fill the stereo field. Halfway through the third verse the band picks up the pace with a shuffling strumming pattern and upbeat drumming. This leads to a final chorus and simple outro chords giving the song a satisfying finish. 

The White Stripes disbanded in 2011 leaving behind a legacy of outstanding garage rock songs. They are still one of the most popular rock bands in the world and are streamed by tens of millions of people every month. The band’s leader, Jack White, has gone on to release several solo albums featuring stand out tracks like "Lazaretto", "I'm Shakin'", and "Sixteen Saltines". If you would like to listen to “Hotel Yorba” or any of The White Stripes other fine music, you can find it on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and most other places music is streamed or sold. If you’d like to learn more about The White Stripes, you can find information at Wikipedia,, or read their biography Fell in Love with a Band.


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