arts, movies, music, pop culture · womens issues

Woman 5: Janis Joplin

I grew up in a social climate that did not tolerate such people as Janis Joplin. This society was called DUMB, an acronym for “Deliver Us from Music that’s Bad.” or something like that.

But seriously, no, Christian circles are funny that way. Instead of seeing the pain and heartbreak of a life that desperately needed truth and love and justice, they shun and censor and restrict and condemn. As a teen, I actually sat in a “class” once where the guest speaker said anything with a beat on the 2 and 4 was Satanic and that if a person was on drugs while making music, listening to that music will let Satan possess you.

First of all, Satan doesnt possess anyone, and secondly and more importantly, that’s ridiculous. But it wouldnt be til many years later that I would discover a whole of “bad” music that didn’t exactly suck.

So fast forward to a Janis Joplin viewing on like VH-1 of all things, and I realized that not only do women *not* have to sound like Gloria Gaither or Sandy Patty, but they could also totally rock out. This was a foreign concept to me as good Christian girls do NOT rock out.

I find it incredibly heartbreaking that such a beautiful, talented, obviously emotionally vibrant soul such as Janis was gone so young. And more poignantly, that no one had hope for her. I am not one to condemn and throw the book at anyone who uses drugs and alcohol and loveless sex and whatever highs they stumble across to get through the day. I understand it and I’ve lived it. I get the pain and the depression and the desperate dark need to fill the emptiness with anything and everything but it’s better than nothin. And as we know, “Nothin ain’t nothin but it’s free.”

For whatever else you may think, Janis Joplin changed the face of women in music and I would not be the same musically today without her. I probably never would have dyed my hair at the very least. Yet another reason many folks would say she was a bad influence on me… just dont dye your hair on the 2 or 4. (i don’t even know what that means)


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