Jack White got an assist from an unlikely ally — his teenaged self — for his new record

From NPR:

I’m told on this record that you found a series of old writings of your own. Tell me about that.

“ I have to talk myself out of the harsh reality that, over the years, your romance becomes tempered by realism.
A new problem with these songs is that I recorded the music and I didn’t write vocal parts or lyrics for some of them for maybe seven or eight months, so I was in a real bind. I’d become disconnected with the music. [It was hard] to start thinking about what stories make sense and what characters can be involved in this; I was so far away from them. I had never been in this position before, because I had never worked on an album this long before. So I was getting very frustrated with the idea of, “Oh my God, I can’t imagine sitting down and trying to sing to this song, because now it’s someone else’s song. I have to pretend it’s someone else’s, and I have to cover this song, and collaborate with them.”

I had found these scribble writings or whatever, from when I was 19. I had these one-act plays and whatever they were, poems. They weren’t very good. They were just sort of by a person without any experience in life, but with a lot of fire inside of me — I couldn’t wait to break out of the house and get something done, go somewhere, see something. And I’d thought, like the photographs I told you about before, I think I’m just going to throw away all of these and keep one or two of them that were interesting. And then I thought, before I do that, why don’t I pull some of these characters out, some of these names, some of these sentences, and work with them? And I did. And it became a way to collaborate with my younger self. That’s how I’ll do these vocals on these songs: I’m going to collaborate with a 19-year-old version of me, which is half my age. I have experience now. What would I be telling myself how to do? If I could go back and say, “No, this is how you write a song. This is how you work with metaphors. Try it like this.” So that became the way I got out of that bind.

Now, I start to write, and I think about these characters and where they could go. I think, “Oh, this person would do that.” But the harsh reality is, when that person gets to the end of that tunnel, there’s nothing there. Whereas when I was writing when I was 19, I thought, “Oh, no, when you get to the end of that tunnel, something beautiful and romantic might happen there, and it goes to another level.” And now, it’s hard. I have to talk myself out of the harsh reality that, over the years, your romance becomes tempered by realism. And you have to figure out a balance of keeping outlook on life positive, but knowing in the back of your head that there could be a bad ending to this.