That's right, punk pioneer and RRHOF-inducted recording artist Joan Jett turns 57 today. That's frightening to any fans of her music still trying to hold onto any remnants of their youth, but, thankfully, Jett's boundless energy and non-stop touring proves it really is possible to get better with age.
Having said that, we felt the perfect way to pay proper homage to Joan Jett was to compile theis playlist of her ten best tunes as chosen by ME!
"Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)"
Jett's treatment of Glitter's stadium rocker was so perfect that it rendered the original obsolete and, though it preceded the release of her iconic album and song I Love Rock & Roll, its success as a single in the wake of "I Love Rock & Roll" helped prove Jett was no one-hit pony.
"I Love Rock & Roll"
Her cover of The Arrows' tune renders yet another original recording by the original artist obsolete by completely making it her own. Of course, this is easy because nobody knew the Arrows' version. This song would go on to spend seven, yes, seven weeks at #1 and propel Joan from an unknown with a punk pedigree to a full-fledged cultural icon.
"Crimson & Clover"
While she stops just shy of her making this tune her own, Jett & The Boys do an admirable job updating Tommy James' hit for an '80s rock audience. Would have loved to see Jett & James collaborate at some point, as I truly believe Jett elevates James' hooks the way the Byrds did with Dylan's "Mr. Tamborine Man", "All I Really Want To Do" and "Chmes Of Freedom".
In '84, Jett literally covered herself by re-recording the tune she'd co-written with Kim Fowley and recorded with the Runways. While we prefer the Runaways version, it was admirable of Jett to tackle the song because it's one of those songs that, in any incarnation, deserved to be a hit.
Come on, what's not to love? You've got Joan singing Jonathan Richman! Again, he succeeds at injecting her usual high-energy to elevate the material.
"I Hate Myself For Loving You"
By the late '80s, Joan's career had stalled and her first album for Sony (Good Music) hadn't even dented the Top 100. The suits in the high offices were concerned, put her in the same room with song doctor Desmond Child. Together they wrote the song that put her back on top and would later ruin Sunday Night Football (via the heavily retooled Faith Hill's version NBC turned into a theme song for their football coverage). The song drove new album Up Your Alley to platinum status.
Despite the album's two covers (one of Chuck Berry and the other The Stooges), it was Joan's original material (such as second single "Little Liar", also co-written by Jett and Child) that saved the day.
Having finally kicked the addiction to covers and proving that she can write mobster hits too, what does Jett do? Record an entire album of cover songs, naturally. While her reading of AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds" wasn't bad, it didn't really set the word on fire, either. As a result, all of the momentum from Up Your Alley's success was wasted on uneventful covers of ZZ Top, CCR, Nazareth, and the Sex Pistols among others
"The Only Good Thing You Ever Said Was Goodbye"
Now we're hitting an interesting stretch of road in Jett's career as she enters the post-Nirvana '90s. Sony is obviously anxious to fit her into that landscape so what do they do? They put her back in the studio with Desmond Child (Bon Jovi).
Yeah, that'll get everything back on-track, right? Hmm, just to kake sure, though, we better bring in Diane Warren, too. The resulting song "The Only Good Thing You Ever Said Was Goodbye" should have been a hit, but, alas, it was not meant to be.
"Backlash" (with Paul Westerberg)
While much of the album centers around Jett's writing with the top song doctors of the previous decade (Child and Warren) her label hedges their bets by opening the album with a song Jett wrote and recorded with Paul Westerberg of the Replacements.
Sadly, neither approach connected with radio or MTV and the album, easily one of Jett's best, flopped.
Fast-forward to the year 2007 and Joan's Sinner album, for which Joan covers the Replacements' "Androgynous". The album failed to chart, the song wasn't a hit, but who cares, Joan Jett's a fucking legend. Let's all be thankful she hasn't made a country album...yet.