Joan Jett of Arc
is the ninth track off of Clem Snide
's 2001 album The Ghost of Fashion
. The song is a gorgeous slice of acoustic pop with a slight country tinge: in essence, a redneck love ballad written by a man who grew up in New Jersey
Nostalgically describing 1980s Jersey, as well as singer Eef Barzelay
's first sexual encounter, Joan
conjures up images of first loves, John Mellencamp, roller rinks, and Mercury Cougars. The title comes from Barzelay's attempt to fashion a legendary figure from the memory of his high-school girlfriend.
"Like many songwriters, I guess I think it's fun to mythologize your past ... I took the first girl I ever had sex with and turned her into this kind of mythic '80s figure."
- Eef Barzelay
What's so notable about the song is Barzelay's success at mixing reverence and slight melancholy with some superbly silly lyrics. It's not often that bands can sing such lines as "My black heart was heavy / but her mom's Cougar was fast" and not come off sounding a bit trifling. On the contrary, when Barzelay sings "and it was all you can eat at the Sizzler that night", it doesn't sound trite, but descriptive and deliberate.
Joan Jett of Arc is a gentle song that really just exudes innocence, perhaps now realized lost in the remembrance of it all. That, and it closes with perhaps the best, most elegant, euphemism for ejaculation that has ever been set to music.
Joan Jett of Arc
She'd fix me a dinner of sunflower seeds
and Reddi-wip topping inhalers
and take me down south
with Hall and Oates in her mouth
my first love, my Joan Jett of Arc
My black heart was heavy
but her mom's Cougar was fast
as little Pink Houses were whistled
and it was all you can eat at the Sizzler that night
my steak burnin' Joan Jett of Arc
And the shopping malls and roller rinks
all dimmed their lights
cicadas and crickets were silent
and the train tracks like stitches
skidding bicycles tires
as I slipped in my Joan Jett of Arc
And the birds that were crushed
once had air in their bones
as oil was refined in her honor