Musician Spotlight: Joan Jett
Most people know Joan Jett for her cover of The Arrows “I Love Rock n’ Roll” with her band The Blackhearts. When I heard this song a few years ago, I thought it was awesome. Yet, I didn’t want to hear more of her music for a few reasons. At the time, I wasn’t too open to old music. I also pegged Joan Jett as a butch rocker who only wrote music that said “I’m a woman, I’m rebellious, hear me roar!” after checking out the album I Love Rock n Roll. As it turns out, this 80’s rocker is so much more than what she appears to be.
One of the best things about her is her vocals. She has a soothing yet aggressive voice. The soothing vocals are best seen in slower songs like “Love Hurts”, and “Crimson and Clover”. Of course, her aggressive vocals are seen in more up-tempo songs like “Bad Reputation” and “Victims of Circumstance”.
Another thing I enjoy about her is how passionately she performs live. She’s not kidding around when she says she loves rock n roll. Whether she is playing her own songs or a cover, she puts her heart and soul into doing it. One of my favorite live performances is her performing Sly and The Family Stone’s ‘Everyday People”. I love the jam session her and another guitarist has almost three minutes in.
Last but not least, her songwriting. It is rare that I have a favorite album by anybody. Whenever I do choose one, it is something that I appreciate as a fan and as a critic. In this case, it is Joan Jett’s 1994 album Pure and Simple. Joan Jett might not have the most complex lyrics, but some of them are very meaningful and touching.
On this particular album, Joan Jett has less of the tough girl stuff and more vulnerable and empowering material. My personal favorite songs are “Activity Grrrl” , “Go Home”, and “Brighter Day”. In “Activity Grrl” Joan Jett tells of an everyday girl trying to make a difference by empowering herself and others. With the lyrics and rare music video for “Go Home”, she tackles rape and violence against women. With “Brighter Day”, Jett discusses social issues and the fight for hope.
Links and a video:
“Everyday People” Live- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEizmNjyuMo
“Activity Grrrl”Audio- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqAiHUvFoiI
“Brighter Day”Audio- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYYOsP6OoIo
“Go Home” Music Video