Sunday, October 4, 2009

Remembering the Pearl

Earlier this year I recalled my introduction to Janis Joplin on the anniversary of "Bobby McGee'' reaching No. 1 on the charts.

(Turns out that party took place just a few miles down the road in Madison, which is once again my capitol city and a place called "Madtown'' with great affection. Weird how things work out sometimes, isn't it?)

Today we acknowledge the anniversary of Joplin's death, coming just two weeks in 1970 after the death of Jimi Hendrix. It's impossible, even after all these years, to fully comprehend the imprint these two incredible artists made in the turbulent times during which their music gurgled up and shot into the cultural maelstrom.

It was a crazy time. "Sex, drugs and rock & roll'' wasn't just a slogan, and there's no need to go into greater detail.

Joplin, whether she was high, straight or somewhere in between, brought incredible spirit to every song she ever performed. The favorites, like "Bobby McGee'' and the gut-wrenching "Piece of my Heart,'' never get tired, no matter how many listens.

My favorite flavor today, though, is "Down on Me.'' I heard it the other day and it's still in my head. Here's a funky clip from a studio stage performance.

Down on me, down on me,
Looks like everybody in this whole round world
They’re down on me

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