Joan Jett knows how to write a hit. At only 18 she wrote Cherry Bomb for The Runaways. Nowadays it would be hard to find someone who doesn’t know the chorus to “I Love Rock ‘N Roll”, “Bad Reputation”, or “I Hate Myself for Loving You”.
And that’s not limited to classic rock fans. I got the opportunity to see Joan Jett perform at SXSW a few years ago. Growing up on this music I was so excited. My friends – the more typical 20 somethings who prefer hip hop and EDM – were reluctant. This wasn’t much of a surprise. I completely expected us to be one of the few groups under 25. At the show we weave our way to the front. Now I’m surprised! The crowd was so diverse. We were surrounded by people the same age, Joan’s age, and every age in between. I remember getting chills seeing everyone scream sing Bad Reputation together. My friends had a blast.
It wasn’t until later that I fully grasped why that show was so powerful. Joan recently gave an interview with Songwriters Magazine. Check out this part:
For Jett, it’s about the power of sharing work and connecting with others. It makes everything negative, tolerable. “It’s very powerful,” Jett says, “especially when you’re singing words that are true to you. And even better when you find it connects with other people and you see them enjoying it. It’s cathartic.”
When fans know the words it creates connection between audience and artist. That’s what I’ve learned working at Pitch, and that’s what we push for within our product. We want artists to be able to teach fans their lyrics and create a connection in the process; and in the end this sets people up to connect with other fans at the show. Next time you’re at a show and everyone is singing together, look around. You’ll feel it.
For artists like Joan Jett, seeing it happen from on stage is holier than the fame. “Those moments are yours and yours alone, she says. To hold forever beyond the glitz and glamour, beyond newspaper headlines and awards.”
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment your thoughts below!
Passage and quote - Jacob Uitti, American Songwriter, February 2022 Issue
Image - AP Photo/The Express-Times, Stephen Flood