Thursday, April 1, 2010

Joan Jett

Posted By on Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge joan_jett_book.jpg

The story of Joan Jett, as presented in the book Joan Jett by Todd Oldham, is the perfect example of how an "official" biography should go.

Yes, technically, this is probably an autobiography. Oldham took interviews with Jett from 1981 to the present, and mixed them up with an interview he did with the rock star, and that is the text of the book. Aside from the introduction from Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna and the bit where her manager Kenny Laguna talks about his relationship with Jett for the entirety of her solo career, the whole book is in the artist's words.

It's unsurprising that this book has been released by Ammo Books to coincide with the release of the movie the Runaways, detailing the genesis of Jett's first band. The book makes the point that Jett first came up with the idea, and approached Kim Fowley with the idea, and it was he who put her in contact with the rest of the band, rather than it being a Svengali type situation.

If nothing else, the book is worth purchasing for the myriad photographs covering Jett's career. Especially worthwhile are the original handwritten lyrics to the Runaways' "Cherry Bomb," and assorted other Jett compositions. Her career from age 15 onward is captured visually, and it's astounding to see how little her image has changed -- a refreshing difference from artists who switch their appearance every five minutes.

Joan Jett is an example of how an "authorized" story of an artists should go. rather than being ghostwritten, it's in the artist's own words, with all the grammatical errors and random tangents inherent therein. Jett's story is intriguing, and a powerful one for which young women to follow. She makes many allusions to making her way without any support from anyone other than her fans, and the discussion of gender issues makes one wonder if we've really come all that far, after all. Her "too heavy for radio" version of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" is sadly missing in these days of post-feminism.

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