How ‘I Hate Myself for Loving You’ Became Joan Jett’s Hugest Song
When Joan Jett and the Blackhearts secured a moderate hit with their 1988 song “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” they couldn’t have predicted it would wind up being a football anthem and the best-paying composition of Jett's career.
The original version appeared on the band’s sixth studio album, Up Your Alley. It started out with the title “I Hate Myself Because I Can’t Get Laid,” but that changed when Jett’s producer, Kenny Laguna, caught up with acclaimed songwriter Desmond Child, author of the Kiss hit “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” and Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name,” among many others.
"There was a friend of ours at Epic Records who was friends with Desmond,” Laguna told Songfacts. “Before the Bon Jovi record came out, he played me the [Child-penned] song ‘Livin on a Prayer.’ I said, ‘Whoa, I want to meet this guy,' so I started chasing Desmond around. He didn't want any part of it because he was busy looking for really important acts like Michael Bolton. I just chased him around until he couldn't take it anymore.”
That meeting, sometime around 1986, led to Jett and Child revisiting “I Hate Myself Because I Can’t Get Laid.” Child's biggest suggestion was to change the lyrical approach. The song then received the title it became known for.
Jett had also acquired the services of former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, who appeared on the recording. “It’s a very minimalist type of solo, almost, but I’ve spoken with a few people who really like what I did,” he told Jazzed. “I had been friendly with her guitarist, Ricky Byrd, who was a big fan of mine. … I’d jammed with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at a gig in New York prior to doing that session.”
Released as the first single from Up Your Alley, "I Hate Myself for Loving You" reached No. 8 and spent 26 weeks on the chart – six weeks longer than Jett’s 1982 classic and highest-charting single “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll.” It helped Up Your Alley reach No. 19 and eventually go platinum.
But that success didn’t come easy – Laguna recalled recalled having to fight for radio airplay. “We’ve had all those hits only because the public and the press supported Joan,” he told Verbicide. “Radio played Joan because they had to play it. We would worm our way on the radio and the records were very active. … Radio loved Journey and those kinds of bands. REO Speedwagon. That ilk. They did well for all the call-out research and Joan never really researched well.”
Watch Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' ‘I Hate Myself for Loving You’ Video
Laguna noted that, despite several hits, they were “cooling off” by the end of the ‘80s. “Then we couldn’t get ‘I Hate Myself for Loving You’ on the radio, but it was No. 1 requested, so we were able to overcome a lot of that. But it took a long time to break that record. It’s been like that. Partly because she’s a rock 'n' roller, partly because she’s a punk rocker and partly because she’s a woman.”
“I had no idea the song would be such a big hit record," Taylor added. "But there you go. I like working with different types of musicians.”
That might have been it – another story of struggle, success and starting the cycle again, with the knowledge that “I Hate Myself for Loving You” could be a mainstay of Jett’s live set for the rest of her career. But the song found a new lease on life when TV producers decided it was the perfect opening theme for NBC Sunday Night Football show.
The song then acquired its third name – “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night” – and a reworked version, complete with lyrics relating to the game, was sung by pop star Pink in 2006. Her version was replaced by Faith Hill’s from 2007 until 2012, then Carrie Underwood from 2013 until 2015. A total of 10 seasons of regular play via one of the most-watched shows on TV.
Even though it took a while for his prediction to come true, one of Child's famous songwriting clients was quickly and somewhat jealously able to predict the massive success "I Hate Myself for Loving You" would achieve. “I remember when I first played it for Jon Bon Jovi," Child recalled at a 2019 Lincoln Center concert. "He looked at me and he said, ‘Fuck you,’ and walked away.”
Watch Pink's 'Waiting All Day for Sunday Night'
Watch Faith Hill's 'Waiting All Day for Sunday Night'
Watch Carrie Underwood's 'Waiting All Day for Sunday Night'
Jett told the New York Post in 2016 that she initially refused NBC’s offer. While she didn't provide an explanation, Veronica Gretton, founder of the music publishing company 401K Music Inc., suggested that the network may have “low-balled” a deal, since “2006 was a bit of a lean period for Joan.”
That said, Gretton went on to estimate that Jett received “a couple of grand a week” in writing fees during each 17-show season, though she split that with Child. With sales related to the song’s highly-visible status, though, Jett could have made a further $500,000.
“I’m not Kanye West and I’m not on the radio all the time, so it helps keep my band paid,” Jett observed. “I’m just glad I don’t have to sing the new versions. I’d probably end up singing the football version onstage by accident.”
In an earlier interview she said that she "noticed over those years that ‘Hate Myself’ started to get a bigger reaction within the show. To me, now, it sounds so different when I hear it on Football. I don’t really hear that it’s the same song anymore. But it has made some sort of impact – people do know that it’s our song. So I think that’s pretty cool.”
Jett even joined Underwood at the 2019 Country Music Awards for a set that included a performance of the song that had linked the two versions together.
She also has ties to Major League Baseball. Jett -- a fan of the Baltimore Orioles, which started the 1988 season with 21 consecutive losses -- performed the national anthem at the Orioles' Memorial Stadium in 1989, a year after "I Hate Myself for Loving You" reached the Top 10. She did it again in 1995 at the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards.