The Importance of Joan Jett
“That was the cliche, you know, like, “She’s pretty good for a chick.” But anyone who says that [about Joan Jett] is an idiot. Joan Jett just straight up rocks and always has.”
–Scott Ian of Anthrax in VH1’s 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs
“I am the bitch with the hot guitar/I am the air, the sun and the stars”
Two summers ago, I was fortunate enough to see Joan Jett play live—for free, no less! She graced the stage with an air of confidence and good cheer, proceeding to rock our collective socks off. As I lost my footwear during her awesome performance, she gave me, and every other young person in the audience, a precious gift.
Teenagers constantly get messages, both from the media and from adults in our lives, about quality of life as we get older. “These are the best years of your life!” “You think life sucks now? Try having bills to pay, ungrateful kids like you to support, and a growing waistline!” “Ah, to be young again. These days I can’t jog without breaking a hip.” Joan Jett makes getting older not look so scary. If she can still look that good and rock that hard in her early fifties, aging can’t be too horrible, at least not for everybody. That realization was a wonderful thing for me to have.
Never mind that she’s an amazing musician, or that she fought hard in a sexist industry to be recognized and heard. Forget that she’s inspired bajillions of girls to pick up instruments. Dash the notion that she may be one of the most important figures in rock ‘n’ roll, and disregard the fact that many have called her the “Queen of Rock,” “Godmother of Punk,” and the “Original Riot Grrl”. Joan Jett showed me that it gets better, and I’m grateful for that. The other stuff is just icing on the cake.