Caught in the Jett stream (or: the way we were) (October 20, 2001)

[Apropos of the moderatrix’s posting a picture of rocker Joan Jett visiting a military base, posing with a baby and a flag)

My compliments to our moderatrix for the intrepid web-trawling. And talking about synchronicity…try as I might, it’s been hard for me to avoid hearing about Joan Jett for any length of time. Our paths did cross once, and since then I’ve never been quite able, try as I might, to erase the memory.

I interviewed her during the summer of 1984 in a seaside club, the sprawling Hampton Beach Casino in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, for a small Boston-based magazine. We were both in our mid-20s at the time (I had actually turned 25 the previous day; Joan, depending on which source you believe, was born in either ’58 or ’60). She was at the peak of her career; I was not. I still think it was the worst interview I ever conducted, partly due to Joan and myself being on completely – and I mean completely – different wavelengths, partly, to be honest, to my asking silly and obvious questions. (I was also a bit overawed at being in her leather-jacketed Presence, with her longtime manager/mysterious gray eminence Kenny Laguna in close proximity.) Out of the glorious horror of that long-ago day, I can still recall a couple of our exchanges, conducted in the dressing room after soundcheck:

Q: Is Joan Jett your real name?
A: Yeah. Ask my mom. Ask my dad.

[Uh, according to Wikipedia and many, many other sources, she was born Joan Marie Larkin on September 22, 1958. I would, actually, like very much to ask Joan’s mom and dad what the deal is here.]

Q: Do you have a message for the kids in the front row? [note fatal error of thinking JJ could relate to metaphors]

A: Well, they can fool around with the sneaker tops but when they start untying the laces, start tying the laces together, that’s when I get mad.


The interview ended when one of the band members entered the room and said, “Joan, you have a phone call” (incredibly transparent ruse even then), and when, perhaps 20 minutes later, I requested Ms. Bad Reputation’s presence again very briefly, she entered the room loudly fighting with the poor PR lady assigned to her (“FIVE MINUTES!” the latter was pleading)…in any event, I was relieved to get out of there. I can admire JJ as an exemplar of straight-ahead, unsubdivided rock ‘n’ roll and a role model for certain female rockers, but I see her as more of a talented cover artist than an original creative force (in 1983 she actually titled an album of hers “Album”), though she’s good at them covers; in 1990 she recorded a killer version of “Pretty Vacant,” for example…

Judging from the photo with the flag and baby (incredible) she looks great these days, though, sorry, I feel she should probably give some thought to effecting a graceful retirement in the near future and becoming a VH-1 DJ or something; I don’t think she’s had anything new to say for quite a while. (Of course, that doesn’t stop most of us, does it?)

Oh, well. There are plenty of other things to worry about.


One response to “Caught in the Jett stream (or: the way we were) (October 20, 2001)

  1. Pingback: 31 things about me « Pogoer 2.0: Memoirs of an experienced optimist

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