Article: Joan Jett IS Rock ‘n’ Roll

LOVE THIS. Excerpt from a Huffington Post article:

What I’ve come to understand as one of many truly extraordinary Joan Jett qualities is that she made the “extraordinary” an expectation for women musicians. When I was leaping around the house in 1984, I wasn’t challenging any societal norms; I just did what the woman on the record sleeve was doing, and I was far too young to realize that this was anything other than ordinary. It was as simple as that: with one turn of the record player, I grew up thinking that women were, and could always be, rock stars.

There’s been so much written about Joan Jett over the years and her influence on women guitarists and musicians — her paving the way for those who came after her — that I sometimes wonder if this commentary is doing her a disservice. It certainly should never be understated what she’s done for women musicians, though I’d argue that she would not have been able to shatter that glass ceiling, or at least begin to pound the hell out of it, had her music not already resonated as powerfully and universally as it did — and still does — with audiences.

Growing up in New York City, I had always aligned Ms. Jett with a Lower East Side punk scene, but I recently had the opportunity to see Joan Jett in concert in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Somewhere in the middle of the Isleta Pueblo Reservation, convened the most diverse concert audience I’ve ever seen: there were soldiers in and out of uniform, middle-aged moms with their pre-teen daughters, pre-teen girls and boys without their moms, leather-clad male biker groups, cowboys with crisp Stetsons and polished boots, big guys in football jerseys, a 20-something-year old roller-derby crew and senior citizens taking it easy in the back rows. And, these were just the folks I saw before the lights went down. By the time the houselights dimmed and Joan ripped into the opening chords of “Bad Reputation,” the 300-pounds-of-muscle security guards had abandoned their posts, while most of the audience abandoned their seats and pushed their way onto the floor and towards the stage.

That night, Joan Jett played the kind of straightforward rock ‘n’ roll that makes you remember everything that you love about rock ‘n’ roll. As pure as the music was, so was Ms. Jett’s character. She didn’t play for the audience; she played with the audience, and in doing so, she offered us a momentary release to throw our arms in the air, scream out lyrics to “Do You Wanna Touch Me” and “Crimson and Clover” until our voices disappeared, and created that beautifully rare opportunity to sweat out the day’s problems in exchange for rock ‘n’ roll.

The concert ended with a most fitting version of Sly Stone’s “Everyday People,” originally covered by Ms. Jett on her 1983 album, Album. I looked around at the hundreds of people singing and dancing, and thought about the lasting sense of authenticity and true belief in rock ‘n’ roll that Ms. Jett shares with audiences. That’s what I can only imagine most musicians would strive to have as their greatest legacy. With over 30 years in this business, Joan Jett is still the queen of rock ‘n’ roll — the humble queen of cool — and America’s rhythmic pulse beats stronger every day because of it.

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