In my opinion, the best song about artistic success is The White Stripes’ “Little Room,” the sixth track off of their breakout album, White Blood Cells.
Here is the song in its entirety:
Well, you’re in your little room
and you’re working on something good
but if it’s really good
you’re gonna need a bigger room
and when you’re in the bigger room
you might not know what to do
you might have to think of
how you got started
sitting in your little room!
A perfect 50 seconds. I’ve never heard it put more succinctly.
Here’s Meg and Jack doing the song on Letterman with “Fell in Love with a Girl”:
It’s autobiographical, obviously: The first two White Stripes records were recorded in Jack White’s living room in Detroit. For White Blood Cells, they traveled to Memphis to record in an actual studio. (A bigger room.)
In this brilliant clip from the 2010 documentary Under Great White Northern Lights, Jack White talks about the “secret” of the White Stripes: Constraints.
One part of my brain says I’m tired of trying to come up with things in this box, but I force myself to do it, because I know something good can come out of it, if I really work inside it…. Telling yourself you have all the time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in the palette, anything you want — that just kills creativity.
(You might recognize that quote from chapter 10 of Steal Like An Artist.)
Related reading: “Suckcess.”