Song of the Day #404: ‘I Love Rock n Roll’ – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

joanjett20 Best Songs of the 80s – #4

It’s hard to imagine an Avril Lavigne without Joan Jett. Or a Gwen Stefani, Shirley Manson or Courtney Love. Jett, Chrissie Hynde, Pat Benatar and Debbie Harry are the names that come to mind when I think of women who were pioneers of rock. But Jett is the one I consider most fondly, because I have great associations with this song, her biggest hit.

The allmusic biography of Jett lists 17 contemporary acts she has influenced. Almost every one is a woman. The same article lists 21 artists who influenced Jett, and every one is a man. Funny how you can look at two lists like that and see in an instant what it means to be a trailblazer.

I wasn’t drawn to Joan Jett because of what she meant for women in music — at least not in those rather academic terms. I was drawn to her because I’d never heard a woman rock so hard, or look so dangerously sexy doing it. The straight black hair, leather jacket, permanent sneer, and the way she wielded that guitar… it was all brand-new and exciting.

Now my timeline here is a little squishy. This song came out in 1981, meaning I was 9 years old. I don’t think a 9-year-old boy thinks in terms of “dangerously sexy” — at least I hope not, as the father of a 7-year-old girl. So I’m guessing the song was still popular several years later when I was a seasoned lad of 12.

I saw him dancin’ there by the record machine
I knew he must ‘a been about seventeen
The beat was going strong
Playin’ my favorite song
An’ I could tell it wouldn’t be long
Till he was with me, yeah me
An’ I could tell it wouldn’t be long
Till he was with me, yeah me singin’

I love rock n’ roll
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby
I love rock n’ roll
So come an’ take your time an’ dance with me

He smiled so I got up an’ asked for his name
That don’t matter, he said,
‘Cause it’s all the same
Said can I take you home
where we can be alone

An’ next we were movin’ on
He was with me, yeah me
Next we were movin’ on
He was with me, yeah me, singin’

I love rock n’ roll
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby
I love rock n’ roll
So come an’ take your time an’ dance with me

Said can I take you home where we can be alone

Next we’ll be movin’ on
He was with me, yeah me
An we’ll be movin’ on
An’ singin’ that same old song
Yeah with me, singin’

I love rock n’ roll
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby
I love rock n’ roll
So come an’ take your time an’ dance with me

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #404: ‘I Love Rock n Roll’ – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

  1. Amy says:

    Thanks for starting my day with such a hearty laugh. I’m very glad you took on the ludicrous notion that you were finding Joan Jett dangerously sexy at the age of 9. Please God, don’t let that be so (says the mother of a nearly nine year old). I find that you have done a lot of looking back through your older, wiser, more culturally educated eyes and ears these past couple of weeks. I’m sure in most instances you have built on a spark of interest you had at the time and imagined what might have caused that spark with the insight of a much older lad πŸ˜‰

    Regardless, you must be excited about The Runaways, the Joan Jett film starring Kristen Stewart. I would say we should make a day of it and take our daughters to witness this trailblazing phenom, but if we do, I’m definitely getting a babysitter for the son πŸ™‚

  2. Dana says:

    It’s funny, I was just thinking yesterday about your list and debating in my mind whether Jett should be there. I think, on balance she should, but, oh…so few spots remain on this list!

    As a 14 year old boy when this song came out, I really didn’t find Jett all that sexy, but I did find her compelling and fascinating. I always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder with this song because, as I wrote about during Billy Joel theme week, this song was hailed as a great tribute to rock and roll while It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me was trashed as “the worst” song ever written about rock and roll. Look, I know I have a soft spot for Joel, but, seriously, this is among the best and Joel’s among the worst? Come on!

  3. Clay says:

    This song certainly sounds more like rock-n-roll than Joel’s song, but that doesn’t mean it’s better, either as a tribute or a song (in my opinion).

    Also, I didn’t realize this was a cover until I read up on it for this list.

  4. Kerrie says:

    Another great pick for the top 5. I, too, remember this song fondly – although not for the pervy reasons Clay does (I’m glad he re-evaluated that “dangerously sexy” idea for a 9 year old, too, Amy). πŸ˜‰

    I still enjoy hearing it from time to time on the radio. Jett and Pat Benetar were my favorite of the rocker chicks during that time and I think it’s cool they had such influence on future female musicians.

    Clay, you had me all worked up over what would make the top 5, but so far I’m not disagreeing (maybe they wouldn’t have been in my top 5, but they would definitely have been in my 20). I AM, however, still waiting for Duran Duran!! πŸ™‚

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