More Janis, Please

Janis Joplin

I like to think of myself as a musical schizophrenic: I listen to a little bit of every genre. There are only a few artists I flat-out don’t like and won’t listen to, but even they got at least one listen before I shunned them permanently from my life. Of all the genres, my default favorite is rock ‘n’ roll. I like new rock too, but “classic” rock is really what fires me up. In my own imaginary world of musical throwdowns, Led Zeppelin always emerges victorious. For those readers who haven’t been following my blog long, here’s how I really feel about Led.

Living in a remote corner of Montana has pros and cons … Much like living just about anywhere else, I suppose. One of the downsides of living here, at least for me, is the lack of variety offered on the local radio stations. There are a few stations that play rock, but really only one mainstream classic rock station. I like the DJs, the Saturday lunch hour dedicated to Led, and their unabashed love and support of Alice Cooper.

But guys, I need more Janis, please.

I like Boston. Really, I do. They are a great band, with some amazing hits. But when I flip the radio on, there’s about an 80%-90% chance a Boston song will be playing.

And I would much rather hear some Janis Joplin.

To say that Janis is underrated and underplayed would be an understatement, and not just on this particular local station either. No matter where my travels take me, Janis jams via radio are almost rare. Why? Is she too blues-based? Not enough billboard hits to play on rotation?

I don’t get it.

I like Led because of their raw power and emotion, and I think it’s safe to say I like Janis for the same reasons. Have you ever contemplated what you would do with a time machine? I have … And I would go back to the 1960s, to see Janis, Hendrix, and of course Led live in concert. The best I can do now is watch videos of some of the performances … Janis awes and inspires more every time I watch a new clip.

In a previous post I mentioned that music just doesn’t get any more real than Led. I’d like to amend that statement and put Janis at the top. She is the ultimate performer, above even my beloved Led, just leaving it all on stage. To watch her perform is to see emotion in its most real and tangible sense. No other performer before or since comes close to her stage presence and passion.

I think Sam Andrew, one of Janis’ bandmates in Big Brother and the Holding Company, said it best: “Janis gave people a sense that they were important, that their lives could matter. She showed them a way to transcend a life that was stifling them and her audience knew instinctively that she was on their side in their struggle to escape mediocrity.”

I hope when I’m gone that someone can say that about me. In the meantime, I think we could all use a little more Janis-like inspiration in our lives.

“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” –Janis Joplin


8 thoughts on “More Janis, Please

  1. Pingback: To Rise Above « Faith and Stage Fright

  2. Pingback: Piece of my Heart – Big Brother and the Holding Company // Janis Joplin « Lost and Found

  3. I was going to go see Janis Joplin in 1970 I think it was. Anyway I had started a new job that took me about 20 miles away from downtown and when it got near 5 o’clock and I could see we were not even close to finishing and going back I had to decide whether to quit on the spot and get myself to the show. I decided I needed the job and could catch Janis next time. She died a few months later. What bugs me more to this day was that I didn’t keep that job anyway. She was awesome.

  4. Janis Joplin reminds me of college. My roommate always had her frequently in the rotation and that was how I was introduced to her! Fantastic!

    I would also love to see her, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin in concert. The closest I got was seeing Robert Plants a few years ago. I also named my cat Jimi 🙂

  5. Excellent article! I too love Janis, and have had the pleasure of playing much of her music in some of the bands I’ve been in (my favorite is “Move Over”).

    Very nice writing, and thank you for liking mine!

    See you around WordPress…


  6. I knew I liked you! I’m a big Janis fan, too. I have some of my old albums framed and in my office — Carole King, Bruce, Jefferson Airplane, Brazil ’66, Eagles, Jackson Brown…all my old friends. Janis sits right by my phone — her Pearl album. She’s incredible. I love, Pink, too and she has done some Joplin covers, and so has Joss Stone. Watch Joss on YouTube with Melissa Etheridge as they did a great duet at an awards show a few years back. Janis keeps rockin, even after all these years.

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