Per their original schedule, the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live was supposed to have country singer Morgan Wallen as its musical guest. Reports from an Alabama publication found that Wallen ran up a fairly high coronavirus risk for the show after he was spotted at a college party, however, and as a result he was dropped from the show. Coming in as a well-prepared substitute for the late scratch, Jack White was announced as Wallen replacement on Friday.
Proving to be a smooth transition from artist to artist, Jack White took the SNL stage backed by a small band that was comprised of drummer Daru Jones and bassist Dominic John Davis.
For his SNL performances, Jack White delivered some of his best hits while putting a new spin on some of them. Playing three songs for viewers during his set, White’s highlight performance came with his closing track. Reaching back to his 2014 sophomore solo album, Jack White delivered a performance of “Lazaretto,” one that found him performing with an Eddie Van Halen model guitar, honoring the legendary guitarist.
Prior to his SNL set, White revealed in an Instagram post that he would use the model guitar during his performance. “I thought it could be a nice gesture for me to use this blue eddie van halen model guitar for one of the songs tonight on SNL,” White said in his caption. “Eddie was very kind to me and saw to it that this guitar was made for me to my specs. i wont even insult the man’s talent by trying to play one of his songs tonight. thanks again eddie for this guitar and rest in peace sir.”
Elsewhere in his SNL performance, White played a small piece of “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” his Lemonade collaboration with Beyonce, before moving on to “Ball And Biscuit.” The track, which comes from his 2003 album Elephant with The White Stripes, was reworked to include lyrics from a traditional gospel song, “Jesus Is Coming Soon,” a track that was centered around the 1918 Spanish Flu and was once performed by Blind Willie Johnson. The reworked performance of “Ball And Biscuit” with the lyrics from the traditional gospel song proved to be just as relevant today as it was at the time of its release:
“The noble said to the people/Close your public schools/Until death passes you by you better close all your churches too/ I’m done talkin/ Yes I’m walkin’/ God is coming soon,” White sang. “The great disease was mighty and people were sick everywhere/ It was an epidemic and it traveled through the air.”
Considering that a “lazaretto” is a quarantine hospital for people with infectious diseases, it’s clear White themed the performances for life during a pandemic as well as to pay tribute to a legend with his guitar. You can watch Jack White’s performances in the videos above.