Janis Joplin

Listen: Little Girl Blue / Janis Joplin

When Janis passed away, I played only this song, this very single, for a solid week straight. ‘Little Girl Blue’ always felt autobiographical. Both song and situation were as sad as I was, and thousands of other kids across the world, during that period. Intentionally self disciplined, I didn’t want to be happy. I guess I was kind of in love with her. But big deal, I was far from alone.

There have been more than a few oddly coincidental ways she impacted my life and still does. Nowadays, I realize that I actually saw a living legend perform in both her and my lifetime. Very few have come along since, who’ve been regarded in such a way during their active careers. Famous artists and regular people alike, just about everybody needs to die before being totally appreciated. But when Janis was alive, journalists, other musicians, personalities from all walks proclaimed her blinding uniqueness.

Brought up Catholic meant when a family member passed on, we were all dragged through three long days of wakes, body viewings, spontaneous melt downs and every kind of prayer ceremony you can freaking imagine. After a first such ordeal at my grandfather’s showing, on the morning of that third day, when we all schlepped back to the funeral parlor to sit through one last batch of tearjerking prayers prior to finally wrapping it up at the cemetery, my aunt taps me on the shoulder from behind, “Have you heard the news on the radio this morning?”

“No, what?”

“Janis Joplin is dead”

Sometimes I feel like I’m still frozen in that very spot, with absolutely no way to get more information. I couldn’t leave, there were no cell phones, nor could I switch on the radio in the car ride to the burial site. I remained paralyzed with shock for hours. Now, if I visit my hometown, it’s exactly what comes thundering back every flipping time I drive past the place. Nice way to get that news, right, while staring at your deceased grandfather about ten feet away. A proper crash course in death.

Like my Mom, Janis would have been celebrating her birthday today, had she lived. January 19. Yet another Janis Joplin coincidence. And there were more, being saved for possible future posts.

Below, one of the few bits of television footage that captures her at 100% capacity:

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