Jack White Recalls How He Reacted to ‘Seven Nation Army’ Becoming Sports Anthem

It’s one thing when you write a successful hit song for your target audience. But things might feel strange when a completely unexpected group of people takes over the piece. It’s not unheard of. And that’s exactly what happened to The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”

The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army (Official Music Video)

The legendary 2003 rock hit was written by Jack White who originally wanted to save the riff for a James Bond movie. What’s weird is that those close to Jack didn’t think much of the song. In fact, in an interview for Q on CBC, he recalled how the label wasn’t very fond of the idea of having it out as a single. Jack said (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“It was just another one of the songs. We were way more interested in two or three other songs on that album, at the time. And how the labels didn’t want to put it out as a single… I actually sort of was insisting, ‘It should be the first single because it sounds so different than what we normally do. That’ll be a good thing, to just clear everyone’s palate, and then we’ll move on to the good songs.’ That was my theory. So, it’s funny, man.”

But what Jack found to be so “bizarre” is that a few years after its release, the song became popular as a sports chant. Firstly among soccer fans and eventually spilling over into other sports.

FIFA 2018 fans singing LIVE - TOMER G - Seven Nation Army 2K18 (POPOPOPOPO!)

Discussing how he first found out about it, Jack offered:

“Somewhere around 2005-ish, I don’t know the year of World Cups, but I remember Italy won the World Cup around that time, 2004 or 2005. And that’s when someone said the president of Italy chanted ‘Seven Nation Army’ from a balcony to the celebrating crowd, and I thought, ‘Holy moly, how could that possibly have ever happened?’ And then I was getting educated on how this started in the football world in Europe, and which we thought at that time, ‘Well, that was great, that it went to that moment.’ Now, I assumed it was gonna go away the next year, and it’s kept on, and then it moved to America.

Final Euro 2016 - Seven Nation Army

“Was it the Baltimore Ravens? And then the Miami Heat were absorbing it in basketball, and then Baltimore Orioles were absorbing it in baseball, and on and on it was going. And as that was going, people were starting to say, ‘Hey, shouldn’t this be a Detroit thing? How come the Detroit teams aren’t doing this?’ Then the University of Michigan started chanting it, and their rivals, Ohio started chanting. So yeah, I kept hearing these stories, and I’m remembering these, because every one of them was such a bizarre, head-scratching thing. Like, I cannot understand why this is happening.”

Photo: Raph_PH (Jack White at Rock Werchter 2018 1 (cropped)), Fabio Venni (Jack & Meg, The White Stripes)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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