You Know you Got it if it makes you feel Good- Janis

Friday, July 27, 2012
Friday Pick Six this week is dedicated to Janis Joplin.

I’ve been listening to some Janis lately. For me, no one can sing the blues better than she, with such raw emotion. I appreciate her as an artist, but I also appreciate her as a woman who felt the world just didn’t ‘get’ who she was because of all the ways they tried to make her something else.  Coming from where she did, knowing she was nothing much more than a disappointment to her family…I am truly in awe of how she managed to pull herself up and use all that anger to create something so perfect.

One of my favorite recordings is Piece of my Heart. The lyrics are wonderful:

Didn't I make you feel like you were the only man - yeah!
An' didn't I give you nearly everything that a woman possibly can ?
Honey, you know I did!
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 loved what writer Ellen Willis wrote about her version of the song compared to the original, sung by Erma Franklin: "When Franklin sings it, it is a challenge: no matter what you do to me, I will not let you destroy my ability to be human, to love. Joplin seems rather to be saying, surely if I keep taking this, if I keep setting an example of love and forgiveness, surely he has to understand, change, give me back what I have given". In such a way, Joplin used blues conventions not to transcend pain, but "to scream it out of existence".[(The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, "Janis Joplin". Random House, 1980)

My pick six favorite Janis songs to listen to:

1.       Piece of My Heart
2.       Cry Baby
3.       Turtle Blues –written by Janis
4.       Get it While you Can
5.       Move Over-written by Janis
6.       Little Girl Blue

I’ll be honest here: in choosing videos I steered away from the early ones when she was performing with her band Big Brother and the Holding Company, because I felt in most of those some of the other members were trying to out-sing her, or sing louder at least, and no one could sing louder than Janis! It was her voice we strained to hear anyway, so I wanted to find videos that highlighted that. I did not choose her Woodstock recordings, but those are interesting to listen to if you want to hear a little more of her interacting with the audience.

More Videos after the Jump:

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