Runaways – American Nights

I’ve always liked the Runaways. They were punk, rock, and some pop thrown in together. Their best known song is Cherry Bomb and it has gained popularity in the last decade because of the 2010 movie about them and the song  included on the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. 

This song was written by Mark Anthony and Kim Fowley. It was on their self-titled debut album released in 1976.

The Runaways were formed in 1975 by producer Kim Fowley after guitarist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West introduced themselves to him in hopes of starting a group. They eventually went on to recruit Lita Ford, Jackie Fox, and Cherie Currie. Lead singer, Currie, went into her audition with a rendition of Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” 

Robert Plant played a joke on them and told them it was fun to collect (steal) hotel keys in England. The keys were big and ornate, and somewhat valuable, so when the band tried to enter France, they were detained by Customs. They had to cancel their show.

Joan Jett on her one arrest: “It was in England, on the first Runaways tour, about to catch the ferry to France. I blame Robert Plant, because we once asked him what souvenirs we should get on the road; he said he took hotel room keys. In England, the keys were big, ornate, metal things. I had four. At customs, the guy said, ‘Hmm, sticky fingers, you’re under arrest’, and put me in a jail cell.”

Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin backstage with The Runaways at their show in  Los Angeles, CA, 1975 photo by Barry Schultz: ledzeppelin

American NIghts

Clean rock n roll
Makes the midnight flow tonight now
It’s hot tonight
Come on let’s have a good time
In the dark of the night
We hunt for fun
Chasing after the moonlight
Hiding from the sun

American nights
You kids are so strange
American nights
You’re never gonna change

Our magic is young
Cause we just begun
We light up the sky
Always on the run
We live in the streets
In the alleys of screams
Cause we’re the queens of noise
The answer to your dreams

American nights
You kids are so strange
American nights
You’re never gonna change

Hey boy you’re my good time
Dance close ya feel so fine
Hold tight we’re on fire
All night you’re my desire

Everybody
Wanna party
Everybody
Wanna party

American nights
You kids are so strange
American nights
You’re never gonna change

Joan Jett – Light of Day

Bruce Springsteen wrote this and gave it to filmmaker Paul Schrader for his 1987 movie starring Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett as a brother and sister who lead a garage band.

Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett performed this in the movie. The song was released as a single credited to “The Barbusters” the name of the group in the film.  The song is a duet with Fox and Jett, but the single was just Jett accompanied by her band, The Blackhearts.   

 Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played Hammond organ on this song.  Light Of Day peaked at #33 in the Billboard 100 in 1987.                                                                                                                                                                                  From Songfacts

This is one of Springsteen’s live favorites. He often performs an inspirational extended version, preaching lines like “I can not offer you eternal life, but I can offer you life right now.”

Bruce performed this at a 1992 concert for MTV. Part of their “Unplugged” series, Springsteen insisted on playing electric and calling it “Plugged.” The set was released as an album in England.

The title was used as the name of a benefit concert Springsteen played at The Stone Pony, a small club in New Jersey, in 2000. Proceeds went to The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Michael J. Fox, who starred in the movie Light Of Day, has Parkinson’s.

Springsteen performed this with Joan Jett at two benefit concerts in New Jersey in 2001. Proceeds from the shows went to victims of the September 11 attacks.

In 2000, the Light of Day foundation was formed, taking its name from this song. Music impresario Bob Benjamin started the foundation after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, with proceeds going toward the search for a cure. Benjamin organized a series of concerts to raise money, which proved very successful. Springsteen has performed at many of these events to lend his support.

Light Of Day

Well I’ve been out of the woods for six days and nights now
Well I’m a little hot wired, but I’m feeling alright
I got some money in my pocket and a long lean ride
I got to make it down to Galveston by Saturday night, now

Well I’m a little down under, but I’m feeling O.K.
Got a little lost along the way

I’m just around the corner to the light of day
Well, I’m just around the corner to the light of day

Been driving five hundred miles, got five hundred to go, yeah
I got rock and roll music on the radio
I got a brother on a rig just off the gulf coast
He says the girls down there, well they’re really the most, man

Well I’m a little down under, but I’m feeling O.K.
I got a little lost along the way

Just around the corner to the light of day
Just around the corner to the light of day
I’m just around the corner to the light of day
I’m just around the corner to the light of day

Well I got thrown out of work on the Kokomo
Don’t ask me what I’m doing, I don’t know
I hope he wasn’t joking when he wrote me that letter
Things can’t get any worse, they got to get better

Well I’m a little down under, but I’m feeling O.K.
I got a little lost along the way

I’m just around the corner to the light of day
Just around the corner to the light of day
Just around the corner to the light of day
Just around the corner to the light of day

Runaways – Cherry Bomb

The Runaways were formed in 1975 by producer Kim Fowley after guitarist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West introduced themselves to him in hopes of starting a group. They eventually went on to recruit Lita Ford, Jackie Fox, and Cherie Currie. Lead singer, Currie, went into her audition with a rendition of Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” When the band refused to play the song, Jett and Fowley wrote the chorus of “Cherry Bomb”.

The album peaked at only #194 on the Billboard 100 in 1976. The Runaways materialized out of the Sunset Strip rock-club scene in the mid-1970s, enjoying a few years of fame. Their first gig was in 1975 and they broke up in 1979. The Runaways remain best remembered as the first band of both Joan Jett and Lita Ford.

From Songfacts

A “Cherry Bomb” is a small explosive device popular with kids, but in the context of this song, it means an underage girl who is lots of trouble – in this case taunting her parents and other adults with suggestions of promiscuity and bad behavior.

This was all by design, as Fowley was out to shock with The Runaways and generate a great deal of hype. The band earned a lot of press and a fair amount of rock credibility, since they played their own instruments and for the most part were genuinely talented. In many ways, however, Currie was the weak link – it was hard to take a band seriously when their lead singer wore lingerie on stage and presented herself as jailbait. Currie left the group in 1977 after their third album, and when asked why The Runaways were having a hard time being taken seriously, Joan Jett said, “It was that whole ‘Cherry Bomb With The Corset’ thing with Cherie.”

Joan Jett became the biggest star to come out of The Runaways, and her story was the focus of their 2010 movie, where she was portrayed by the fetching Kristen Stewart. When the group dissolved in 1979, she didn’t have a lot of offers, but the producer Kenny Laguna partnered with her, forming Blackheart Records and creating many classic songs, including the famous cover of the Arrows song “I Love Rock And Roll.” When we spoke with Laguna, he told us: “The record companies could care less about Joan Jett, they were busy signing every other Runaway. They thought Joan was the loser and they signed the other girls, who we’re all friends with, but I looked at the band and thought she was the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the band.”

To give you a hint as to how central this song is to The Runaways’ legacy, the poster of the 2010 Runaways movie features a juicy dripping cherry whose stem is lit and sparking like a bomb. Bevis and Butthead took one look at it and spontaneously combusted.

That’s Cherie Currie growling the vocals here, which were performed by Jett when she left the band. You know what else is on her resumé? Chainsaw artist. That is, she carves wood sculptures using a chainsaw. No, really, she’s good. Check her personal site here. How’s that for machisma? If you don’t see how carving art with a chainsaw is a metaphor for punk rock, we obviously haven’t been explaining this stuff clearly enough to you.

By the way, modern audiences might easily get Joan Jett and Lita Ford confused – their styles are very similar. They were both in The Runaways at the same time and basically wrote the book on all-girl punk bands in the ’70s – but really, they’re a continuation of the lineage first started by Suzi Quatro, whom Jett cites as an influence. You can hear the go-to-hell delinquent rebel in the style of all three, right?

Speaking at Kim Fowley’s memorial service, Joan Jett said that they wrote the song for Cherie Currie’s audition – the collaboration marked the first time Jett had written a song with someone else.

Joan Jett’s version was featured on the 1992 “Free Fall” episode of the TV series Highlander, which starred Jett as an immortal. The song can also be heard on a 2012 episode of True Blood and in the 1993 movie Dazed and Confused.

The song was featured in Marvel Studios’ 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy. Director James Gunn explained how some of the music was used during the filming: “Where possible, the songs were played live on set,” he said. “When you see the gang walking down the hall to ‘Cherry Bomb,’ they were actually walking down the hall to ‘Cherry Bomb.'”

Accompanied by Dave Grohl, Joan Jett performed this song at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when she was inducted in 2015.

Cherry Bomb

Can’t stay at home, can’t stay at school.
Old folks say ‘You poor little fool’.
Down the streets I’m the girl next door.
I’m the fox you’ve been waiting for.

Hello, daddy. Hello, mom.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!
Hello world! I’m your wild girl.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!

Stone age love and strange sounds too.
Come on, baby, let me get to you.
Bad nights causing teenage blues.
Get down ladies, you’ve got nothin’ to lose.

Hello, daddy. Hello, mom.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!
Hello world! I’m your wild girl.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!

Hello, daddy. Hello, mom.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!
Hello world! I’m your wild girl.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!

Hey, street boy, want some style?
Your dead end dreams don’t make you smile.
I’ll give you something to live for.
Have you and grab you until you’re sore.

Hello, daddy. Hello, mom.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!
Hello world! I’m your wild girl.
I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!
Cherry bomb!
Cherry bomb!
Cherry bomb!
Cherry bomb!