St. Joan of Jett Deliver Us from Uncertainty

Did I mention that my friend Ray was here this weekend? Ray? RAY! He was. When we talked about the music we were listening to lately, and I laid some truth on him.

“Really,” I said. “I’ve been listening to a lot of Joan Jett.”
“Why?” He asked, a little puzzled.
“Well it was her birthday last week,” I started to explain and then stopped.
“Oh,” he said and shrugged.
“Also, she makes me happy.”


I’m not entirely sure where the 45 came from. I think it was from TJ, a younger-than-them friend of my parents. TJ was the coolest of the cool. She was a singer in a rockband with her husband Jamie, who gave Sister #2 drum lessons.

We can’t talk too much about the drum lessons because it makes me bitter. See, I wanted to play the drums when the time to play instruments came around, but our dad insisted that one could not simply play the drums out of sheer desire. One could only play the drums after taking years of piano lessons and since I didn’t have any piano lessons in my past I could not play the drums. Instead, I played the alto-saxophone because Jennie Baker said it was cool and she would know, right? Then two years later Sister #2 gets drum lessons sans piano history simply because she wanted them.

For some reason TJ took a liking to me and Sister #2 and we spent a lot of time with her. She taught us a dance routine to “Let’s Hear it for the Boy”, and she gave us old 45s when she tired of them.

In my memory the 45 of “Crimson and Clover” ctually belongs to Sister #2, but I had the record player and listened to it roughly 812,183 times. I loved the song and remember being oddly horrified when my mom new the song. I didn’t understand the concept of a cover song at that point. I did, however, understand that my mom was not supposed to know my music.

To be honest, I’m pretty sure my love of Joan Jett stemmed from the fact that she was Leather Tuscadero from “Happy Days.” At least I thought she was. And before I discovered The Outsiders and Michael Jackson, everything Happy Days related was my very favorite thing.

I have no idea when I realized that Suzi Quattro and Joan Jett were different people. It doesn’t matter, I guess. Joan stuck with me from then on, a pop cultural love that became so much a part of me I forgot it was there until people would point it out, usually my sisters.

“Oh yeah,” one of them would say whenever the topic would come up. “You loved Joan Jett.” Kind of the way they have to mention that I loved Dickie Barrett whenever the Mighty Mighty Bosstones come up (not very often) or the movie “Clueless” (with surprising frequency).


Our eyes shine with tears a lot lately. It’s October now and we can no longer count the months until they leave for Portland, only the days (26). They closed on a house in Portland yesterday. Lasts are starting to happen with alarming frequency, especially for Jaycie and Max.

The uncertainty is hard to take, for all of us, even The Tibbles. We laugh a little louder when we’re together now, because we don’t know what life will be like when the nucleus moves to the West Coast. We bicker a little (very little) less.

And its this uncertainty that has me turning to Joan Jett so often the past few weeks. Her music feels comfortable, which amuses me because it’s not comforting music. It’s not warm or schmoopy or cozy, and yet here I am listening to “I Hate Myself for Loving You” for the thirteenth time in a week and feeling instantly better because of it.

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