As I said yesterday, I got to see Joan Jett & the Blackhearts open for Styx. Now, I did find the pairing to be a bit odd, it did pull some classic rockers in for Joan’s set and some punkers in for Styx, so I understand why they paired up. And, once again, I had seen Styx originally way back in 1979, right after my high school cross country team became the second team in school history to qualify for the Regional. I will always associate those two events. Why it was significant was that our team was the only one that was not ranked in the State’s Top 20 from our Sectional to qualify for the next round.
On the other hand, I had not seen Joan Jett since she was opening for The Police on their 1982 Ghost in the Machine Tour. The crazy thing was Joan was in the midst of her biggest-selling days, as her cover version of “I Love Rock ‘N Roll,” which, according to a biography of her great and influential band, The Runaways, Joan tried to convince the band to record, was the number one song in the U.S.A. For some reason, and why I will NEVER understand, Jett never really came close to repeating those commercially successful days of 1981 and 1982. Because, like AC/DC and Ramones before her, she has been the most stylistic consistent artist of our time. When you pick up one of Joan’s albums, you know that you are getting some crunching guitars, driving rhythms, simple melodies and fun lyrics, in the manner of her punk and glam rock heroes before her, like Suzie Quatro, Slade, Gary Glitter, Ramones and AC/DC. This is plain and not so simple rock and roll music built upon the backs of Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, with some bubblegum music from Tommy James thrown in for good measure. So all the great ingredients are there, and Jett is able to add them together in different measures to create her consistent and beautiful sound. And, no one, and I mean NO ONE (!!!), rocks like Joan Jett & the Blackhearts!
Thanks to Creem and Circus magazines, I bought a copy of The Runaways’ debut album. That album blew me away, and I became a fan of the band, and not simply because I was teen male and they were beautiful teen females. The Runaways rocked! And, the band rocked hardest on Joan Jett’s original songs. Shortly afterwards, The Runaways imploded, so Joan went solo, and as her debut attests, she became a star. In the wake, we now have many women out in the world rocking as hard as Joan has. But, it is short-sighted and a little sexist to say she only influenced little girls because I know plenty of men who wish we had just a pinch of her songwriting talent and onstage charisma to become a local rock star, let alone the rock god she is today. And, I personally thank God that the days have past since the guys from Rush would laugh at The Runaways as the ladies opened for the heavy-prog rockers once did back in the mid-Seventies on their joint tour. Still, in these days of the #MeToo movement with a US President who makes fun of the movement that we have a long way to still travel. Still, without Joan Jett, that road would still be blocked as chauvinistic pigs like the President. Now, those dinosaurs are solely dying off. I sure hope things will be better when my granddaughter is an adult.
Today, let’s honor the rock brilliance of Joan Jett with my Top 25 Joan Jett Songs. Keep on rocking!
- “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (I Love Rock ‘N Roll, 1981)
- “Bad Reputation” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Bad Reputation, 1981)
- “Do You Wanna Touch Me?” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Bad Reputation, 1981)
- “Cherry Bomb” – The Runaways (The Runaways, 1976)
- “Fake Friends” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Album, 1983)
- “I Hate Myself for Loving You” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Up Your Alley, 1988)
- “Nag” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (I Love Rock ‘N Roll, 1981)
- “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)” – Joan Jett & Paul Westerberg (Tank Girl OST, 1995)
- “Crimson & Clover” (I Love Rock ‘N Roll, 1981)
- “Androgynous” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Naked, 2004)
- “Everyday People” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Album, 1983)
- “Light of Day” – The Barbusters [aka Joan Jett & the Blackhearts] (single, 1987)
- “Activity Grrrl” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Pure and Simple, 1994)
- “Good Music” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Good Music, 1986)
- “A.C.D.C.” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Sinner, 2006)
- “Little Liar” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Up Your Alley, 1988)
- “Dirty Deeds” – Joan Jett (The Hit List, 1990)
- “Any Weather” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Unvarnished, 2013)
- “Real Wild Child” – Joan Jett (We Will Fall: An Iggy Pop Tribute, 1997)
- “Baby Blue” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Fetish, 1999)
- “I Love You Love Me Love” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth, 1984)
- “Don’t Surrender” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Notorious, 1991)
- “I Love Playin’ with Fire” – The Runaways (Queens of Noise, 1977)
- “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Bad Reputation, 1981)
- “Victim of Circumstance” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (I Love Rock ‘N Roll, 1981)
This list could have been twice as long with nary a variation in the quality of the songs. I sure hope you all can appreciate the true status of this woman in the rock world. Music lovers everywhere are privileged to have lived through this Golden Era that gave us Joan Jett, with and without the Blackhearts and/or The Runaways. Joan Jett deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, so stop your complaining!