Joan Jett’s Cover Tunes: Appreciating the Originals

Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘N Roll is a classic love story: Girl meets song, girl falls in love with song, girl records song and changes history forever. It’s a legend that Jettheads know by heart. Joan saw the original performed by The Arrows on UK television while on tour there with The Runaways. The rest of the band members weren’t interested in recording the song, but Joan could not forget it. After The Runaways broke up, the girl and the song were magically reunited when Joan recorded it with The Blackhearts. It dominated the charts for two months in 1982 and is now regarded as one of the greatest songs of all time. Fuck Cinderella, this is the stuff fairy tales should be made of.

I Love Rock ‘N Roll was not the first or last time that Joan Jett would record a cover song. They actually make up a significant percentage of Joan’s music. History-making or not, all of Joan’s cover tunes have a way of making us forget the originals. But we shouldn’t. Because even though the song is never the same without the girl, the girl is also never the same without the song. We should remember where they came from, because they are where Joan comes from.

Here are just a few of my favorites. Check them out and compare them to Joan’s versions and let me know what you think.

1. I’ll start with the big guns: I Love Rock ‘N Roll, by The Arrows (J. Hooker/A. Merrill, 1975). You can read a detailed history of the song and see who else has recorded it at www.iloverocknroll.org.

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