Friday, January 19, 2007
Oh Lord, Won't You Buy Me A Mercedes-Benz
Texas is hard on women and horses, so it's no surprise that Janis Joplin came from the pit of hell that is Port Arthur, a small east Texas refinery town, kicking and screaming, 64 years ago today, a true force of nature if there ever was one. If Janis hadn't existed, I would have never made it through a thousand and one break-ups. In my mind, you have two choices of songs to listen to if your heart is broken -- "Ball and Chain" or "Me and Bobby McGee." The worst the break-up, the more "Ball and Chain." One of my favorite dvds is a recording of her on the Dick Cavett show right before her death. She's hysterical and heartbreaking, the way truly funny people always are. Also, she's not wearing a trace of make-up and dressed in a boa. In an era of overdone, perfect-looking celebrities, she's as shocking today as she was so many years ago. Smart and self-efffacing, she holds her own with Mr. Cavett. The moment I love the most is when she explains male/female relationships to him in metaphor -- women being the donkeys who are chasing after the carrots men are always dangling right in front of you and then yanking away. He looks confused until she breaks it down for him and then says, I could tell you're hip and swinging by your shoes, man. He's wearing the squarest shoes in the world and they both laugh when he says, If they were good enough for my grandfather . . .
I left Texas when I was 26, right around the age that Janis died. I figured it was time to move on down the line before Texas did me in. The place doesn't leave you, though. All that scary empty space! I'm sure that's what in part made Janis so great -- molded in one of the most conservative parts of the country in those days, she broke out of it to become herself, no easy feat to be sure. I don't, she told Mr. Cavett, write songs. I make them up. She died early and lonely, claiming to want the white pickett fence fantasy as much as anything else. Thank God you don't always get what you want.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"If you don't believe there's a price/ for this sweet paradise/ just remind me to show you the scars." Bob Dylan
Drinking music suggestion: 18 Essential Songs Janis Joplin
Benedictions and Maledictions