"All I know is something like a bird within her sang. All I know she sang a little while and then flew on" - The Grateful Dead, Bird Song
Today Janis Joplin was my companion. I went and bought "Pearl", which was her last album, released posthumously. It was released soon after her death and her version of "Me and Bobby McGee" on that album, sung in her band Full Tilt Boogee, was her only number 1 hit. I love that song, especially for the line "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose" but I think my favourite song is on Cheap Thrills
, Joplin sings as part of Big Brother and the Holding Company, "Piece of My Heart". I've tried to get a good version of it so have two links below, one as performed at Woodstock which is pretty good, though she was totally tanked out of her nut. The second one shows her performing it live but the sound is not as good.
Now if that ain't hard, mean, heavy rock, then I don't know what is!
Other songs that I love include Cry Baby, Me and Bobby McGee, Mercedes Benz, and especially after listening to Ella Fitzgerald yesterday, Joplin's version of Summertime is so beautiful - so raw and hard edged.
I got seriously into Joplin about a year/year and a half before the ex and I split. I would play her really loud and let the music wash over me and just really and truly relate to her raw pain.And each time I tell myself that I, well I think I’ve had enough,
But I’m gonna show you, baby, that a woman can be tough.
I want you to come on, come on, come on, come on and take it,
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby!
Oh, oh, break it!
Break another little bit of my heart now, darling, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Oh, oh, have a!
Have another little piece of my heart now, baby,
You know you got it if it makes you feel good,
Oh, yes indeed.
Course I used that as a bit of a theme song to keep throwing myself back into a relationship that really was taking a piece of my heart each and every day. But always listening to it and knowing that Joplin lived life hard, she lived it with her heart on her sleeve. She used drugs and alcohol to numb the pain and get through it. And she died of a heroin overdose at 27. So much talent, so much gone all too soon.
I spent today working my way through the three albums I have of her work, some of it live, some of it with snippets of her talking and laughing. And I listened to her from a different perspective, as a survivor of a broken heart, as someone who took all her pieces back and reconstructed her heart over again. I can hear the rawness - of her voice and her heart and her soul - and I'm using it this time to empower me. There's strength in her sound and her work as well as pain.
I'm not going to leave listening to Janis Joplin so long next time. I'm going to take her with me, I think. She kinda makes it all just a bit better. Though she has also made me dig deep and think deep thoughts today. I feel kind woozy and out of it as a result.
Here's Cry Baby just cause you can never have too much Joplin!
Janis Joplin - proof that women can rock it out as hard as any guy!
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