Saturday, 22 September 2012

Janis Joplin

Ah but you got away, didn't you babe,
you just turned your back on the crowd,
you got away, I never once heard you say,
I need you, I don't need you,
I need you, I don't need you 
(Leonard Cohen, "The Chelsea Hotel")

The Queen of Rock and Roll

Just like Jimi Hendrix, Janis seems to have "endorsed" an 'official' website from beyond the grave.  To be fair, it is referenced 'the Janis Joplin estate'. It's also a fine source of Janis info, so we'll leave it at that...

Janis Joplin, the woman with the voice that could simultaneously charm the birds out of the trees and strip the paint from walls.

Janis Joplin, the woman who inspired song and verse, and, let's face it, not a little hard drinking and illicit drug-taking.

Janis assaults a song with her eyes, her hips; and her hair. She defies key. shrieking over one line, sputtering over the next, and clutching the knees of a final stanza, begging it not to leave. When it does leave anyway, she stands like an assertive young tree, smiling breathlessly at the audience, which has just exploded. Janis Joplin can sing the chic off any listener.
Richard Goldstein, Vogue, May 1968.

                     One of the most watched videos on YouTube with over 14 million hits.

The Queen of Psychedelic Soul
Although her career lasted only about four years, and many of her key live performances were hampered by heroin and booze, Janis Joplin opened paths for women vocalists and her influence worked through Stevie Nicks, Pink, Alanis Morisette, Bonnie Raitt and many others

And who has ever had a better Porsche than this?
One admirer of her work who was not afraid to speak her mind, clearly felt the world did not deserve Janis:

"Yesterday I went to see Janis Joplin's film here, and I started to write a song about it, but I decided you weren't worthy. Because I figured most of you were here for the festival, and you just really... Anyway, the point is, it pained me to see just how hard she fell. Because she got hooked into a thing, and it wasn't on drugs. And she played to corpses." Nina Simone at Montreux Jazz Festival 1976.

The lamentable "trend" of dying young - something previously restricted to 19th century Victorian poets and their heroines - re-emerged in the sixties, with Jimi Hendrix as its king, Janis Joplin its queen.

Perhaps Nina Simone is right. Maybe we mere mortals don't deserve her and the rest of those supernovae of the sixties. Maybe we are just hopeless, soulless "corpses". But if we keep on listening, perhaps her voice may yet blow a breath of life into us... It's worth a try, don't you think?

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