The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #249: I Love Rock n’ Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (KEXP)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #249: I Love Rock n’ Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

It is not always an easy world in which to grow up female. Obviously, I don’t know that from my own life experiences but, I have seen enough of what the females in my life go through to know that how they navigate through the outside world differs from how I do. While it is important to me that Leah and Sophie grow up with knowledge that may protect them in the real world, I also want them to have the confidence to boldly follow their dreams, too. As such, it pleases me when I see them reading books about such powerful females as Malala or the Young Readers edition of “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. But, selfishly, one of the things that pleased me the most was when Sophie, inexplicably came to know about one of the most legendary badass musical females of them all, Joan Jett. In Sophie’s musical playlist, “I Love Rock n’ Roll” stands out as a distinct throwback to a different time in musical history for female performers. There is far less polish to someone like Joan Jett but, in many ways, there is far more raw power and energy. Whatever the case, this is, also, one of Sophie’s favourite songs and, from a multitude of perspectives, I am delighted.

Joan Jett first gained fame as one of the founding members of the all-girl punk band, “The Runaways”. Jett was not the lead singer in this band (that was a lady named Cherie Currie) but she co-sang and played rhythm guitar. Joan Jett was barely out of her teens when “The Runaways” had a big hit called, “Cherry Bomb”. On the strength of that hit, “The Runaways” went on many concert tours as opening act for bands such as “Cheap Trick”, “Van Halen”, “The Ramones” and “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers”. While in Japan, with “Cheap Trick”, Joan Jett heard a song called, “I Love Rock n’ Roll” by a boy band called “The Arrows”. The original rendition of “I Love Rock n’ Roll” was created in response to “The Rolling Stones” releasing “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll But I Like It”.

Fast forward a few years, “The Runaways” broke up and Joan Jett travelled around as a solo act. Eventually, she gathered together a new group of male musicians to back her up on stage. These fellows became known as “The Blackhearts”. One of the first songs they recorded and released was Jett’s cover of “I Love Rock n’ Roll”. The release of this song occurred just as MTV was starting up. Thirsting for content, MTV seized upon the video of a leather-clad Jett snarling her way through the song and played it in “heavy rotation”. Her version of “I Love Rock n’ Roll” became an instant hit and roared up the charts. While Joan Jett and the Blackhearts scored other hits with songs such as her cover of the Tommy James and the Shondelles song, “Crimson and Clover” and her own hits, “Do You Wanna Touch Me”, “Bad Reputation” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You”, it was “I Love Rock n’ Roll” that propelled her to lasting fame. Joan Jett was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 and the song, “I Love Rock n’ Roll” was inducted in the Song Category.

So, as Leah and Sophie look to the females who blazed trails before them, for lessons in how best to make their way in the world, there is a part of me that is happy that Sophie, in particular, has taken a shine to somebody like Joan Jett. In many ways, Joan Jett is the antithesis of who Sophie often portrays herself as being. Jett has not had an easy road in life. She has battled addictions, sexism and misogyny throughout her life and has, at times, struggled to maintain the image of toughness that her leather-laden wardrobe projects. But, not being privy to every moment of Sophie’s life outside of the house, perhaps she views a healthy dose of badassery as being a necessary weapon in her arsenal of tricks as she blazes her own trail. All that I know for sure is that when it comes to female role models, it is important to welcome in all types because one never knows whose life experiences will turn out to be helpful when it comes to writing one’s own life story. So, to Joan Jett and all of the female rockers of the world, thank you for being you.

Without further delay, here is the “Godmother of Punk” and the “Original Riot Grrrl”, Joan Jett with “I Love Rock n’ Roll”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “I Love Rock n’ Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, can be found here.

The link to the video for the song, “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, can be found here.

The link to the website for The Runaways, can be found here.

As always, thanks to KEXP for supporting the best female performers in all genres. The link to their wonderful website can be found here.

Author: Tom MacInnes

Among the many characters I play: husband, father, son, retired elementary school teacher, writer, Cape Bretoner, lover of hot tea and, above all else, a gentleman. I strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In Life, I have chosen to be kind.

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