This exceptional piece of badassery from 1981 was a skating party favorite. It was also one of the first videos that made an impression on me. I so badly wanted to be as cool as Joan Jett! Black hair, tons of eyeliner, tight leather, and all that attitude? Where do I sign up for that?
We loved to clap and sing along with “I Love Rock N’ Roll” as we rolled around the skating rink. Our hair was feathered, our jeans were Jordache (well, not mine, because my parents would never pay for designer jeans), and our elementary school hearts were dedicated to rock and roll. This is a great rock song about rock music and what that music celebrates.
Joan Jett didn’t write this song, which I just found out as I did a little research. The British band Arrows wrote and recorded it in 1975 as a response to The Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It).” Apparently Joan saw them perform it while the Runaways were on tour in England, and she recorded her first version of it with Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook in 1979. The version we all know and love was released two years later, and it changed a lot of lives.
Women weren’t doing this kind of shit in 1981. Pat Benatar was the same kind of badass with a ton of attitude and eyeliner, and I envied her confidence as well. Both of these chicks were perfect for the early years of MTV, and they paved the way not only for other strong female artists but for young ladies like myself who just didn’t give a fuck about society’s expectations—I wanted to do only what I wanted to do!
The video. Holy shit. Black and white made it as perfect as perfect could be. Joan looks sexy and dangerous. When she first walks into the bar and leans against the doorway and removes her glove—what the fuck?!! That was about the coolest shit I ever saw a woman do when I was 8 years old. She starts singing about this hot 17-year-old guy dancing by the record machine while the beat is going strong playing her favorite song. She knows he will be hers.
And I could tell it wouldn’t be long
‘til he was with me—
Singin’ I love rock ‘n’ roll
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby
I love rock ‘n’ roll
So come and take your time
And dance with me
That cockiness is hot as fuck. She can have any man she wants. And she can listen to rock ‘n’ roll and have a good time. And she’ll scream about it, she’ll fuck you up and make you love that shit. Because she can.
When I was 8 and 9 years old, I wanted to go to that bar. I wanted to be Joan Jett’s BFF. I wanted to pick up hot guys with her and sing rock and roll. And I still want those things. Because she still kicks ass.
Bad. Ass. Bitch.