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Boomer Divas: Janis Joplin

Sitting down by my window
Honey, looking out at the rain
Sitting down by my window, looking out at the rain
All around that I felt it
All I can see was the rain 
Something grabbed a hold of me
Feel to me, oh, like a ball and chain

When I knew her she had a place outside of town, over the Golden Gate, with rooms that seemed to be covered in shingles on the inside. Tiburon maybe. Or maybe not. There was a lot from those days that got lost in the smoke of the world. She had bad skin that she was sensitive about and slathered on a lot of pancake. And she was…. well… small. Almost tiny. Almost elfin. Until she turned her voice on and blew off the back wall of whatever joint she was lighting up. Danny WhatsHisName from the teen magazine told me she was dead. We were backstage at the Winterland. I don’t remember who was playing. I just went home.

I don’t understand how come you’re gone, man. I don’t understand why half the world is still crying, man, when the other half of the world is still crying too, man, I can’t get it together. If you got a cat for one day, man I mean, if you, say, say, if you want a cat for 365 days, right you ain’t got him for 365 days, you got him for one day, man. well I tell you that one day man, better be your life, man. because, you know, you can say, oh man, you can cry about the other 364, man, but you’re gonna lose that one day, man, and that’s all you’ve got. You gotta call that, man. that’s what it is, man. if you got it today you don’t want it tomorrow, man, cause you don’t need it, cause as a matter of fact, as we discovered in the train, tomorrow never happens, it’s all the same fucking day, man.

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  • Casey Klahn September 15, 2017, 10:16 AM

    Sausalito claims she lived there. Video evidence of her greatness is thin, but in my memory she’s huge. idt you can find one of her singing Me and Bobby McGee, live, at all. I remember her trying to eat the microphone when she’d sing. She must’ve been one big disorder to be around, but what a talent.

  • OldFert September 15, 2017, 10:59 AM

    Sorry, Casey. I think she was quite a bit overrated. Her dysfunctional life made her a star. “Wow! Look–she’s drinking Southern Comfort right out of the bottle on stage while she sings. Far out!”

    That said, I *did* like “Mercedes Benz.”

  • Lavenia September 15, 2017, 11:42 AM

    I enjoyed listening to her songs. Nitty gritty and raw.

  • pbird September 15, 2017, 12:51 PM


  • Eskyman September 15, 2017, 2:26 PM

    For a long, long time I didn’t care about Janice. I was into mellow, like Donovan and Judy Collins. Edgy music just wasn’t my thing.

    Had an opportunity to see her live in Frankfurt in 1969, but let it go by. A friend went, came back transfixed. Said I’d missed something incredible, and that I would regret not going. He was also amazed at how much liquor she could put away with no apparent effect.

    Now I consider her one of the most powerful and honest singers I’ve ever heard. Her voice reaches deep inside of me and pulls on strings I didn’t know I had. Every time I hear her I can’t help thinking that I too could have seen her in person, but couldn’t be bothered. My friend was right: I do regret that ill-considered laziness, every day.

    Rest in peace, Janice. You have moved me to tears so many times, and still do. Such a huge talent in such a small package, and too soon gone!

  • Casey Klahn September 15, 2017, 2:44 PM

    Thanks, Old Fart, but I was giving my opinion, not an overrated one.

    I will agree that becoming dead early does propel one’s star in Rock & Roll, but we were looking at her in real time and saying: “Wow!” I couldn’t give a shit about her behavior, and perhaps I was a bit young to understand that at the time.

    She needs to be raised from the dead digitally, if anyone ever did. I’d go see her hologram show in an instant.

  • Smokey September 15, 2017, 2:58 PM

    When the big studio bosses replaced her original band with their Pop 40 selection, that’s when she peaked.

    But she was super-awesome! Wish I’d kept my original album, with the cover drawn by R. Crumb…


  • Jewel Atkins September 15, 2017, 3:10 PM

    Eva Cassidy had the voice Janice would have had sober.

  • Doubletrouble September 15, 2017, 3:54 PM

    I saw Janis at Franklin Pierce college in NH (’69?) when she had just joined Big Brother- love at first sight. I almost caught the SC bottle she threw into the audience; true story.

  • Steve September 15, 2017, 4:03 PM

    I always thought she was a star. But I was listening to her in the car once with a young person who had no idea who she is and commented,”That sounds like Marge Simpson.” I listened and had to agree that there is a similarity. I still enjoy Janice, but every time I hear her I remember that remark.

  • R Daneel September 15, 2017, 6:49 PM

    I saw her in Albuquerque about 1970. She was a little elf and not physically attractive. That being said, when she started to sing the whole place became mesmerized. By the time she was done and about 1/2 a bottle of SC later not a man in that place was not in heat. She was truly magical.

  • Missy September 16, 2017, 9:22 AM

    April 10, 1968, Anaheim. Drove from Tucson for the show. The overused term, “mind bending,” accurately described her performance. Squalling, screeching magic. I think Iron Butterfly performed, too, and instead of a curtain closing, a wall of fire shot up from the footlights at the conclusion of their performance.

  • ghostsniper September 16, 2017, 12:49 PM

    Ho never made a red centavo off’n my ass.
    The amount of alcohol required to mount that shit would have also rendered the burning of wood impossible. Catterwaulin’ pockmarked powdered bear claw.

    Read part of a book in the 70’s written by a woman that started something like this, “First time I saw Janis Joplin I had woken from a drunken stupor, sprawled out on the filthy floor and looked down and there she was between my legs chowin’ down like a big dawg.” serious Paraphrasing of course cause I was in a stupor too.

  • eclectickelvin September 16, 2017, 2:16 PM

    Big Brother and the Holding Company was her best. The rest of it wasn’t. Still have that album and play it when i can get my turntable to work

  • SteveS September 17, 2017, 12:50 AM

    Say what you will about looks ‘n lifestyle, but Janis had It. When she brought it out and lit it up, you knew you were in the presence. Reminds me of Van Morrison, in a way. May she rest in peace.

  • pbird September 17, 2017, 10:11 AM

    Still nah….Please!

  • Fuel Filter September 18, 2017, 8:16 AM

    Saw her with BB twice in one week at the Filmore West in the mid 60’s during one of my jaunts to SF to visit my boyhood best friend (I was 15).

    We smoked so much weed in GG park before each show I hardly remember much of them but I was blown away by Janis and the bass player Cassidy (I played bass as well).

    Butterfly was the opener (remember, they were an L.A. band) and they floored me as well.

    Good times…

  • Teri Pittman September 19, 2017, 12:52 PM

    Meant to leave a comment, but got side tracked. I was looking up Sam Andrews blog, as he had some great informal pictures of Janis from time to time. Discovered that he died in 2015. He mentioned in the blog that the band let her down. They were using drugs heavily and became unreliable. They bear a part in the breakup. I’d never noticed, until I read this, but Janis practiced her delivery. Once you know that, you can see how she planned out every scream and moan and could deliver them consistently.

    At the time, they held her up as an empowered woman, but she really thought of herself as a victim. They say she had a beautiful voice when she started out. I’m sure she thought the fame was worth all of it.