Saturday, March 20, 1982

Joan Jett hits #1 for the first of 7 weeks with "I Love Rock and Roll"

Last updated 4/9/2020.

I Love Rock and Roll

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Writer(s): Jake Hooker, Alan Merrill (see lyrics here)

First Charted: December 12, 1981

Peak: 17 US, 15 CB, 15 HR, 1 AR, 4 UK, 18 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 10.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 86.64 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

When the Rolling Stones sang “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It),” the lesser known Arrows felt obligated to respond with their more celebratory message of “I Love Rock and Roll.” BR1 The American trio went unnoticed stateside, but garnered enough attention in England to warrant their own TV show. Still, they only recorded one album and this 1975 song didn’t even make it on; it was originally relegated to a mere B-side of a single. SF

The Arrows’ message eventually reached a mass audience, though. While Joan Jett was touring England as a member of the teenage girl group the Runaways, SF she saw the Arrows performing “I Love Rock and Roll” on a TV show. She wanted to cover the song, but was outvoted by her band members. SF After the Runaways’ demise, Jett cut the song herself. She shopped it to twenty-three record labels before finally getting the attention of Boardwalk Records, RS500 a new label formed by Neil Bogart, the “emperor of disco at Casablanca” MA and “king of bubble gum at Buddah and Cameo/Parkway.” MA

Even then, the song only surfaced in Holland as the flip side of a cover of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me.” BR1 Jett still believed enough in the song to buy the radio rights for $2500. RS500 She made a decent investment: today, the song that became the biggest pop hit of 1982, WHC is worth close to $20 million. RS500

In the Arrows’ hands, the song’s message about a guy picking up a girl and taking her home made for a fairly clichĂ©d topic in a rock song. SF In Jett’s hands, though, the song became an empowering anthem about the woman aggressively pursuing the guy SF and shaped Jett’s image “as a tough, confident” SF “girl-rock icon.” RS500

Resources and Related Links:

  • Joan Jett’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 553.
  • MA Dave Marsh (1989). The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York, NY; New American Library. Page 300-1.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • SF Songfacts
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 11.

Saturday, March 6, 1982

Willie Nelson charts with “Always on My Mind”

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Willie Nelson “Always on My Mind”

Writer(s): Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, Mark James (see lyrics here)

First charted: 3/6/1982

Peak: 5 US, 2 AC, 12 CW, 49 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 2.0 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): 5.0 Video Airplay (in millions): 44.7

Review: This song “is virtually the definition of a modern pop standard.” AMG B.B. King told Esquire magazine in the January 2006 issue that this was his favorite song. SF While the ballad format of the song may be conventional, its theme of a love affair’s end instead of its beginning is a break from the more traditional love song that becomes a pop standard. AMG The narrator confesses guilt and regret AMG over not always doing what he should have to show appreciation for the object of his affection. SF

With its “expressive melody and dramatic lyrics” AMG the song was “a natural for vocalists.” AMG Brenda Lee had a minor country hit with it in 1972. That same year, Elvis Presley had a gold single with his version that went top 20 on the U.S. pop charts and top 10 in the U.K.

In 1982, Willie Nelson gave the song its greatest success yet, taking it to the top of the U.S. country charts and into the top 5 on both the pop and adult contemporary charts. His version was also a platinum seller and multiple award winner. While other versions risked sounding “melodramatic or corny,” AMG Willie’s take on the song “emphasized the pain and sorrow of the lyrics.” AMG

Before the close of the ‘80s, the song became a hit again, but this time it was recast as a dance song. The Pet Shop Boys performed it for an Elvis tribute show on the BBC SF and then released a single of the song. Their version actually outdid Nelson’s in terms of chart performance – it went a notch higher on the U.S. pop charts (#4) and went to the top of the U.K. charts. Nonetheless, “the best version will always belong to Willie Nelson.” CC

Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.