What is Your Religion?
Joan Jett said to Oprah recently, “Rock n Roll is my religion”. Intrigued, Keitu ‘BlackScribe’ Reid decided to find out more about the woman herself and explore the concept of faith and the many unexpected manifestations of God.
Do you have something you believe in with supreme faith? That is what religion asks of you. For Joan Jett (an American rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer and actress) her religion is Rock and Roll.
More and more I trust that religion is a journey. And what you eventually believe ascends on you when you are ripe and ready. For Joan it happened when she was anointed with her first guitar. She was thirteen. She fell in love with Rock and Roll and merged herself with it so that you cannot tear them apart.
My religion is writing. Something I have always done but only discovered its meaning to me when I was 28 and seasoned. Though the tears I cry, the anger that burns my fingers, or the giggle I have when confronted with a witty character – any emotion evoked allows me to feel God. When I feel nothing, I stop. I have met and conversed with Him in my dreams. I have seen Him in different hues and tones when I enjoy easy sunsets from my bedroom balcony. But I have also doubted Him. I have begged Him to simplify this thing called faith as it would ease the tensions of this world. I have asked Him to explain religion to me and others. Religion has always been a murky area where I am not assured of what is fiction or fact. What presents itself as fact usually resides deep within my heart – so deep that even though it is in me I have found it hard to unveil. Anyway, I have been told this is not totally acceptable. As a result I have not been strongly affiliated with any belief, except to say I know God exists. However, I didn’t know until Joan Jett appeared on Oprah, how profoundly God can exist….
Joan confirmed to the talk show host that ‘Rock and Roll is (her) religion.’ She spoke steadily. Calmly. Matter of factly. No big who-haa. No drama. A simplistic actuality of who she is…. Rock and Roll is her religion.
To understand her meaning I took it upon myself to go online and retrace her life. Joan launched a group called The Runaways, the very first girl rock band. She must have had solemn faith in her craft to be able to plunge into an all male genre. As she confirmed, the male dominated industry did not welcome her with open arms. Nonetheless, The Runaways were very successful. Unfortunately after some time there were internal disagreements – causing the group to split. Joan’s faith in her talent didn’t waver. After being rejected by 23 record labels, Joan formed Blackheart Records, in 1980. In doing so, Jett became one of the first female recording artists to found her own record label…. today her career has spanned over 22 years.
To achieve all of this Joan must have had absolute trust in her ability. She did not need proof. She did not need for heads of industry to take her seriously; when they shunned her she started her own label. Why? She took herself seriously. She knew she would make it. She believed 100% that she is not meant to do or be anything else. Isn’t that the pinnacle of faith? And what is religion without faith?
When Joan held a guitar in her hands – she did miraculous things. With Joan Jett & the Blackhearts she sky rocketed to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 from March 20 to May 1 1982 for their hit cover I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll. The group, under her guidance, had many other popular recordings including I Hate Myself for Loving You, Do You Want to Touch Me, Light of Day and Love Is All Around ….my personal favorite of all time being Bad Reputation – the song gave praise to a changing society as many girls (and boys) danced to the pounding beat, singing ‘I don’t give a damn ’bout my bad reputation / You’re living in the past it’s a new generation / A girl can do what she wants to do and that’s / What I’m gonna do’ ….
Not only was she fulfilling her hearts most sincere desire when she jotted down her lyrics and strummed her instrument…. But she changed the world. Literally. She gave girls permission to be a little radical. She altered conventional rules, giving other female artists permission to move into more daring musical areas, most significantly she gave us brilliant, timeless music.
With conviction in her music serving as her guardian angel and her compass – Joan was named in ‘the Rolling Stone greatest 100 guitarists’. She was one of only two women in this list, the other being Joni Mitchell.
I suspect in times of hardship Joan’s music has given her solace. In times of joy and love she used her voice to rejoice – and by doing this she took us with her on her journey of hopefulness and devotion. To this day many still abide by her scripture and belt out ‘I love Rock and Roll’ with crazed inspiration.
Joan said, ‘Rock and Roll is my religion.’ If being earnest about pursuing your passion and dream does not bring you closer to divineness – what does?