Till It’s Gone

‘You Don’t Know What You’ve Got’ was recorded by Joan Jett in 1980 on her debut solo studio albumBad Reputation that climbed to #51 on the American charts.  This song was written by Joan Jett, Kenneth Laguna who played keyboards and sang backing vocals, and Ritchie Cordell.  Laguna and Cordell also worked as the producers of this album.  Joan Jett was in the all-female punk-pop glam rock teenage girl band from Southern California the Runaways who released four albums that never had much commercial success in America, probably because their hard-rock sound didn’t fit into the era when disco music ruled.   Their sound was sometimes called jailbait rock and they broke up in 1980 because Joan and Lita Ford along with Sandy West were disagreeing with the band’s future sound and that is when Jett moved to New York to begin a solo career. 

Kenneth Laguna had a long history in Sixties pop and bubblegum as a writer, producer and keyboard player and he was still a teenager when he produced hits in the 1960s for Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers song ‘Makin’ My Way’, Tommy James and the Shondells song ‘Mony Mony’, Darlene Love song ‘The Champion Part One’, Jay and the Americans song ‘Walkin’ in the Rain’ and The Ohio Express song ‘Yummy Yummy Yummy’.  Kenny and Joan met in 1979 at the Riot House on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California when he was asked to meet and produce what turned out to be the Runaways last album And Now… The Runaways.  Kenny was asked to help write and produce six songs in 8 days for The Runaways, even though they had broken up, because they were still contracted to do a project that was yet unfinished. 

Joan acted in a movie based on The Runaways (with actresses playing the rest of the band) called We’re All Crazy Now!, which featured an unprecedented look at the raw underside of the L.A. punk scene, but the movie was not released and then Joan’s old manager Kim Fowley called Laguna asking him to write with Joan.  Kenny’s wife Meryl, told him to go and meet Joan because she really liked what she had been reading about her in the press.  When Joan and Kenneth met, they wrote some songs that weekend, one of which was ‘You Don’t Know What You Got’.  Joan Jett and Kenneth Laguna founded Blackheart Records in 1980, making Jett the first female artist to own and have direct control over an independent record company.  Joan formed The Blackhearts in between Bad Reputation and her second album in 1981 I Love Rock-n-Roll, which became a huge hit. 

Over the years, Ritchie Cordell worked with numerous artists including Tommy James, Joan Jett, Bow Wow Wow, Ohio Express, 1910 Fruitgum Company, Crazy Elephant and the Ramones and several others.  Ritchie holds the rare distinction (shared only with the Beatles) of having two of his songs ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ sung by Tiffany and ‘MONY MONY’ sung by Billy Idol follow one another in the #1 & #2 positions in Billboard, and the next week they reversed positions.  This happened on November 21, 1987 and both songs were originally done by Tommy James.  I did some research to find out what these two Beatles songs were, and this happened on March 21, 1964 when ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ dropped to #2 after spending 7 weeks at #1 and ‘She Loves You’ went to #1 from being #2.  Both songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

I was caught so unaware
When you made other plans
Promises you swore to keep
Where more than you could stand

You don’t know what you’ve got
You don’t know what you’ve got
You don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone

I can’t stand to hear your name
‘Cause you were so unkind
And though you think you made out well
Someday you will find

You don’t know what you’ve got
You don’t know what you’ve got
You don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone

Shame on you, I gave you love
I gave you love so true
But you ran away
So you just don’t know what cha’ blew
Yeah, yeah

You don’t know what you’ve got
Oh baby
You don’t know what you’ve got
I thought I knew you
You don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone

You don’t know what you’ve got
You don’t know what you’ve got
You don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone

I was weak when you were there
And I felt so protected
But I’ll make sure that you regret
The one that you rejected

You don’t know what you’ve got
You don’t know what you’ve got
You don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone

Oh baby
You really blew it
Oh baby
I thought you knew me
Oh baby
Oh baby. . .

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie MM Music challenge about the Tiffany, and Tommy James and the Shondells song ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’.

6 thoughts on “Till It’s Gone

  1. I collected a lot of Joan Jett solo singles and albums after she left The Runaways (yes, I collected them as well!) and it’s great to know she’s still recording new material to this day.
    P.S. My favourite Runaway was actually Lita Ford…who also went solo!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read an interview with Joan where she said that audiences would spit on the band and she would end up backstage after a show weeping, soaked in people’s spit. She speculated that audiences didn’t like the fact that a group of young women could play their own instruments and were taking an active role rather than being content to be sex objects for the men. I have great admiration for her.

    Liked by 1 person

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