4 Oct 2020

Remembering Janis

From New Horizons, 5:00 pm on 4 October 2020

Janis Joplin passed away fifty years ago, on 4 October, 1970. William Dart submits a little piece of his heart by way of a tribute.

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin Photo: Pixabay

If you happen to be an aficionado of the golden age of silent cinema, then you may well be marking 4 October as the birthday of Buster Keaton in 1895.

More recently, but still half a century ago, it marks the final day of a singer who’s come to be a symbol of the raw heart of sixties rock and roll.  

Listening to Janis Joplin now, it’s difficult to believe that this voice could be silenced. She seems so fresh, so spontaneous and very much in the here and now.

In these days of ours when rock ‘n’ roll has become an academic subject, a thing of applications, grants, reports and strategies, Joplin comes across a remarkably free spirit, defiant to the end. When worrywarts predicted that her voice wouldn’t survive her gravelsome mode of singing, she responded by saying that she was happy for it to last just a few years if she was able to sing as she wanted to.

But, as Holly George-Warren pointed out in her recent biography, Joplin took her music very seriously; she knew what she wanted and where it came from – in particular, from black artists such as Leadbelly, Odetta, Bessie Smith and, of course, Willie Mae Thornton, the Big Mama who handed her the song 'Ball and Chain' on a plate.

William Dart plays this and other tracks from the albums she released with Big Brother and the Holding Company, her two solo albums, as well as curiosities from the various commemorative sets that have appeared over the years.

Music Details

'Song title' (Composer) – Performers
Album title
(Label)

'Mercedes Benz' (Joplin, McClure) – Janis Joplin
Pearl
(CBS)

'Summertime' (Gershwin) – Big Brother & The Holding Company
Cheap Thrills
(Columbia)

'Ball And Chain' (Thornton) – Janis Joplin
Woodstock: Back To The Garden
(Rhino)

'Hesitation Blues' (Trad) – Janis Joplin
Janis
(Columbia)

'Women Is Losers' (Janis) – Big Brother & The Holding Company
Big Brother & The Holding Company
(Mainstream)

'Dear Landlord' (Dylan) – Janis Joplin
Box of Pearls: The Janis Joplin Collection
(Columbia)

'Magic Of Love' (Spoelstra) – Big Brother & The Holding Company
Box of Pearls: The Janis Joplin Collection
(Columbia)

'Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)' (Ragavoy, Taylor) – Janis Joplin
I Got dem ole Kozmic Blues Again Mama
(Columbia)

'Little Girl Blue (live)' (Rodgers, Hart) – Janis Joplin
Box of Pearls: The Janis Joplin Collection
(Columbia)

'Little Girl Blue (studio)' (Rodgers, Hart) – Janis Joplin
I Got dem ole Kozmic Blues Again Mama
(Columbia)

'Move Over (Live on the Dick Cavet Show)' (Joplin) – Janis Joplin
The Television Broadcast Sessions 1968-70
(Creative Zone Copyrights)

'Move over' (Joplin) – Janis Joplin
Pearl
(CBS)

'Get it while you can' (Ragavoy, Shuman) – Janis Joplin
Pearl
(CBS)