Although he stepped in at the last minute, it looked like Jack White had been rehearsing for months for this performance.
His electrifying performance opened with a medley that only Jack White could pull off. He began by playing “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” a collaboration with Beyoncé off her critically acclaimed record Lemonade before transitioning into The White Stripes track “Ball and Biscuit.”
The Elephant track proved to be timely as White reworked the song by incorporating lyrics from Blind Willie Johnson’s “Jesus Is Coming Soon.” Johnson’s blues song was originally written about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and features lyrics that are relevant to today.
“Great disease was mighty and the people were sick everywhere
It was an epidemic, it floated through the air,” White sang.
When White returned to the stage, he donned a blue guitar that paid tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen. “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 wrote in an Instagram post.
“The guitar was designed by eddie (with a few customizations i had added). 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.”
White went on to play “Lazaretto” and furthered his tribute to Van Halen by ripping a finger-tapping guitar solo. The technique was popularized by Eddie Van Halen and was given the national spotlight during White’s performance.