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Archive for April, 2010

The Runaways

I have been a huge fan of Joan Jett for as long as I can remember.  When I was three I would sing along to I Love Rock N Roll and as I grew older Crimson and Clover and Bad Reputation became favorites.  For a little girl who wanted to be a rock star, who better to idolize than Joan Jett?  In the late 80s, I was introduced to Lita Ford.  While Lita’s insane skill on the guitar was noted, she still couldn’t replace Joan as an idol for me.  It wasn’t until years later did I learn that they were in a band together.  That day I was introduced to The Runaways.

I started looking past Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.  I listened to any Runaways song I could find until I had the lyrics memorized.  Their songs have a timeless quality to them, allowing teenagers from any generation to connect with them.  When I learned that Cherie Currie penned her memoir Neon Angel, it instantly made its way on my to-read list.  Then it started moving down that list as other books made their way into my short attention span.  Thursday night, after managing a sneak preview of The Runaways, it was back at the top of the list.

I dove into Neon Angel ready for anything.  I knew some of the horrors that Cherie Currie faced in her life, but nothing prepared me for what I was going to find in those pages.  Neon Angel reads like YA fiction, which came as no surprise since part of it was originally a YA book.  The story is amazingly well written focusing on the emotions accompanying events allowing the reader to relate to Cherie in a whole new way.  The reader is sucked into pages and occasionally will have to pull away to remember that these events really happened.

This really is Cherie’s life story, only focusing a third of the book on her time with The Runaways.  The section on The Runaways doesn’t go into too much details when it comes to the other members of the band either, which was a huge disappointment for me.  The reader gets glimpses of the dynamics, but the relationships between the girls are lacking in description.  Cherie and Joan were good friends during their time in the band, but the reader only gets a few short paragraphs scattered throughout the section to get that across.

For the majority of the book I had a really hard time putting it down, even though I would read a section and think I couldn’t take anymore.  It is very graphic and downright terrifying in sections.  When she gets to the point of describing hitting rock bottom of her cocaine use, I began losing my connection with Cherie.  After everything that she went through, I was more in awe that she went as long as she did before hitting rock bottom.

Overall it is a really good book.  If you are a fan of The Runaways or 70s Glam Rock I put it in a must read section.  I will say that it is not for the weak stomach, though, as some part may set you over the edge.

If you are more interested in the story between Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, go see The Runaways the movie.  I had some reservations going into the movie as I am not the biggest fan of Dakota Fanning or Kristen Stewart and these were roles that (I thought) needed to be played perfectly.  I was pleasantly surprised when it took me five minutes to recognize Dakota Fanning.  Both Fanning and Stewart did an amazing job losing themselves in the characters.

While the movie is loosely based on Neon Angels, it focuses more on the relationship between Joan and Cherie.  It is definitely Hollywood-ized, skipping over the more controversial subjects that are brought up in Neon Angel that mainstream America shies away from.  There are also inconsistencies in timelines in the movie and what happened in real life.

I knew going into the movie that Lita Ford and Jackie Fox would not be heavily featured, but I wasn’t prepared for how little they were featured.  Jackie Fox’s character has maybe two lines while Lita Ford’s character has enough lines to show off that she was bitch.  The friend I went to the see the movie with was a big Lita Ford fan and was a little disappointed by this.  We were both amazed by how well the actresses pulled off the songs.  We tried to figure out which songs were done by the actresses instead of the artists, and found out when we got home how off we were on a lot of them.

I admit I went into the movie without any expectations past a great soundtrack.  I was overwhelmed by how good the movie was.  As I left the theater, I was trying to figure out how to go see the movie again (which is rare for me.)  I have to give credit to the cinematographer for a lot of this.  The acting was good, the music was great, but the cinematography really made the movie.

Joan Jett has always been a hero of mine.  If it wasn’t for the path she carved with The Runaways, it would have been a lot harder for girls like me.  Nowadays it isn’t a big deal to see girls in a rock band, and it is all because of them.  The book and the movie show some of the unpublicized struggles they faced trying to pave the way for us.  I hope that they will gain even more respect as the movie hits, they deserve it.

My First Band (that's me with the mic)

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